Most of us are familiar with slideritis — the constant need to test and refine game sliders to get that perfect blend of simulation gameplay and fun. Now the NBA 2K developers have also provided users with the ability to not only configure global game settings, but we can also adjust nearly every aspect of individual and team tendencies within a roster. This means that perfect game against the AI is a tangible reality. It also means weeks buried in roster screens, sorting through data and playtesting. I’ll give you some suggestions about how to manage this exhaustive, yet rewarding, task.
For those unfamiliar with the game, here’s an example of how customizable it is. I have just started a MyLeague game against the Utah Jazz. The first pass goes to Joe Ingles on the wing. He is standing there because they are running a play I chose to add to their playbook after watching a couple of their games. He won’t shoot because my defender is right there and his contested 3-point tendency is low. Rudy Gobert comes to set a screen. I know he will roll because I set his tendency to crash to the rim rather than flare out to the arc. Ingles starts his drive to the left because of his 95 dribble left tendency. He doesn’t pull up from three or mid range because those tendencies are low. I anticipate him laying it in. He begins his layup with the designated animation branch I gave him. I contest the shot with my help defender, but his 95 “dish to open man” tendency has kicked in and he finds the corner shooter I left wide open for a three. I have sown the seeds of my own destruction, and it’s these moments when the months of work have rewarded me with a moment that feels like a real NBA game.
NBA 2K is a universally acclaimed series. Many will ask “why bother setting aside weeks and months for marginal upgrades?” It’s a very reasonable question. This is a task for those who have an intimate knowledge of the NBA and want that replicated in their video game. I wish I could play NBA 2K and not be bothered by Rudy Gobert fadeaways, Dwight Howard pull-ups or seeing Andre Roberson launching 10 3-pointers. 80 percent of the game feels authentic; it’s the 20 percent that can leave a sim gamer frustrated. Thankfully, the game’s designers have given us the tools to smooth out that 20 percent. Here’s some tips on how to do it.
1. Choose what you want fixed, and what you don’t want fixed
A roster edit that commits to editing everything accurately will take months. There is a prominent group on Operation Sports whose project can take up to six months — and they know the shortcuts. Imagine trying to accomplish that as an individual. You might have it ready by the time NBA 2K22 drops. Prioritize what you want, and get these areas right. I don’t care about player accessories, so I ignore them. But I want players’ signature jump shots accurate, so I put hours (okay, days) into that. I only focus on the top 10 players of every roster. This came back to bite me when someone named Briante Weber shot 27 times against me, but I took the L on this one.
2. Quick edit, you’re the real MVP
When a disgruntled gamerbro claims NBA 2K doesn’t do the little things to help its community, I only have to offer the inclusion of the quick edit feature as evidence to disprove this. Prior to this, editors would have to open up every player’s edit screen individually and scroll through pages of attributes and tendencies. Now, hitting ‘start’ will allow you to edit an entire team’s tendencies or attributes from the one screen. You can edit horizontally (all of one player’s attributes or tendencies at the same time) or vertically (all of a team’s rating in a single attribute or tendency at the same time). This feature will save your time, and possibly your relationship.
3. NBA 2K has a great community, so use them
A shooting form is broken up into an upper release form and a base. Each upper release form can contain a mix of two different forms that can shade towards either end on a 1-99 scale. There are approximately 450 players in the NBA. Do the math. That is a lot of editing. Why not rely on users who have already done it and, let’s be honest, done it better than what we could. Ismaila Traore and DellyTrey are YouTubers who have provided an invaluable library of signature shots that users can plug in to their rosters. I’ll admit to reworking NBA 2K23 cover athlete Luka Doncic’s form over and over and over until I was happy. But for most other players, I was comfortable using a resource provided by community members who are experts in their field.
4. Stop chasing the rainbow
I finished my roster just before the NBA season started. I was content and feeling pretty chuffed that I nailed a simulation NBA roster. Then I started watching a heap of real teams. Alex Len was shooting 3-pointers. Niko Mirotic was putting up 30 ppg. And who is Alonzo Trier? Getting one-to-one realism is impossible. There is too much night to night variance in the NBA among players and teams. Be prepared to settle for a reasonably accurate roster, as opposed to a completely accurate one. Some editors will design mathematical formulas based on real NBA data that they plug into their rosters. This will help to weed out oversights, but it is a massive investment of time. And considering the natural variance is it worth the time to design a formula that determines Damian Lillard is an 84 rating on moving 3s, rather than using your knowledge to estimate him at an 81?
5. Big little things
Don’t forget to keep cycling through a team’s roster screen past the attributes and tendencies. Some of these options can impact your sim roster. You can set the CPU to have the lineups you want for each minute of the game. Rather than seeing benchwarmers get minutes because they play the position of a sitting starter, you can create the Golden State death lineup, or stick Giannis and LeBron at center. Or point guard. This is a worthwhile investment of time.
Play-type priorities for players may be more important than playbooks. Much of the NBA runs simple variations of spread pick and rolls so there isn’t much difference in team offenses, with some exceptions. You can improve your sim roster by adjusting the play types that each player has access to. James Harden averages 10 3-point attempts a game. So 2K has given him “3 point” plays as a play priority. These are quick screen actions designed to get shooters open. The problem is Houston don’t run these types of plays for him. He bombs out of isolations, pick and roll or in transition. Give him those play priorities and boost his pull up threes off the drive, contested threes and step-back threes. The default rosters have some quirks
6. Don’t forget why you play
Let’s not get too serious. You play to have fun. Roster editing is designed to let you have more fun. If it’s becoming a chore, stop it and enjoy the game. To discuss any of these issues, stop on by the Operation Sports NBA 2K roster forum.
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