When it comes to NBA 2K20, I’m exclusively an offline MyLeague player. While I believe this is the best console franchise mode in any current sports game, there are so many little improvements that could put the mode over the top. So while it feels like the bar continues to get lower and lower for franchise modes, 2K could help reverse that trend.
Back in October, I wrote about a list of little things that would make the uniform editor within MyLeague better, and this article is an extension of that. It’ll touch on things that could influence other modes as well, but as someone who is not as familiar with those modes, I’ll focus on how it impacts offline MyLeague.
Headbands! Okay, there’s more than that, but let’s start there. This doesn’t have a huge effect on MyLeague, but it’s such a strange feature to remove unannounced that I’m including it here anyway. There have been some workarounds to equip headbands on players, but that shouldn’t have needed to be the case.
I get that there are some hairstyles where a headband seems silly, but that’s not the issue with the majority of players. It can’t be a likeness thing either, as we were able to do this in previous versions. I even remember during the PS2 era you could change a real player’s hairstyle in Madden. For reasons unknown to me, I always made Tom Brady bald. This is something the public has been asking for this entire generation of consoles, and we’d like it back, please — the headbands, not a bald Tom Brady. As far as I know no one is asking for that.
The ability to edit players without having to enter the player edit screen is something that all games should have implemented yesterday. 2K does a good job with it, but outside of visual/accessory changes to a player, there’s one thing that’s not editable outside the player edit screen: contracts. I don’t know if there’s ever been a reason brought forth by 2K for not allowing this, but I’d love to hear it. If you’re setting up an NCAA MyLeague with contract years, a truly accurate historic MyLeague, or you just want everyone to be a free agent after year three, what should stop you from doing that?
We have a slider to adjust the draft class quality right now, which is fine. But I’m still having issues with classes that generate giant players with incredible all-around skills.
On top of that, I get strange hairstyles and facial hair, and even stranger accessory combinations (the ever-popular wristband over the arm sleeve show up a lot). It’s good that they randomize accessories/hair and not everyone comes in as a blank canvas. It would work best to have weights and rules applied to these randomization options so that the entire second round no longer has James Harden beards. Better yet, expand the number of hairstyles and beards in the game so that this becomes less of an issue.
The community here on OS makes incredible CAPs, but imagine the time savings of using the face uploading software for created players. About two or three years into custom draft classes, regardless of who made them, you can start to tell there are about 36 base faces in the game. Part of that is that the created faces are almost made of a different material than scanned ones (this is also quite noticeable in a game like MLB The Show, but less so in Madden). I have no idea what the solution is, but it’s something that can be worked on across all games.
A few other things that could be re-implemented into the game for created players are tattoos and body types. Let’s take the tattoos from MyCareer and put them in the rest of the game. I’d also love the idea of sculpting bodies as I set fit again. The difference in body types between Shawn Bradley and Glen “Big Baby” Davis should be noticeable.
I also admit that a lot of the things mentioned in this section are things that exist elsewhere in the game. They’re in modes I never play, and in the modes that make 2K the most money. If you’re going to exclude features in MyCareer/MyPlayer from the rest of the game, then please, just exclude that whole mode from the rest of the game and sell it separately. Take out all the ads for it, and all of the “update required” messages. I’d honestly be just as happy with that happening as I would be if all these features made their way over to the people who have played this game for the past 15-plus years.
I remember the current draft format in the game being advertised as something everyone was going to enjoy better than the last iteration. Maybe they were excited to work the social media portion into it. Maybe they were excited to get that techno music in there. Whatever the rationale was, I don’t quite get it.
I love the NBA Draft. After March Madness, it’s probably my favorite sporting event of the year. The previous draft format from NBA 2K15 was great. It had Adam Silver coming to the podium to announce the selection, just like in real life. The suspense! They promoted the current format as being updated to make it quicker. You can have both. If I want to skip to my pick, let me. If I want to watch it all play out, let me enjoy that, too.
The NBA Draft is an event. Bring that event to the player. Put some graphics up on the screen: the order scrolling across the bottom, the best players available, the crowd reaction, even some commentary. Make it something worth playing. The Draft Lottery is close in that regard but could go even further. Turn the text of the sideline reporter into a TV-style graphic on the screen. Add some commentary. Show an executive celebrating. Motion capture those envelopes opening!
You’re lucky to make it two years into MyLeague before every team’s starting lineup consists of players rated 80 or above. This should not be a surprise to people but it has some not-so-pleasant effects on the entire mode. Contract demands get too high, and there are too many good free agents available as a result of dwindling cap space. We need to either re-calculate the way players are rated, or lower everyone’s ratings.
The NBA is the best collection of basketball talent on the planet. We’re all aware of this. No disrespect to any current player, but I’ll go out on a limb and say almost none of them will be better than Pistons-great Isiah Thomas, so I shouldn’t see it happening with every team’s 23-year-old point guard. I remember two console generations ago, on NBA Live, there were players rated in the 50s (sorry Jerome James). Now, it seems they fear being dragged on Twitter by players if the 14th man on the Minnesota Timberwolves isn’t a 79 overall rather than rating appropriately and honestly.
As a continuation of the player editing section, there’s a lot to edit for a player, and that’s wonderful. But it’d be great to take what’s there already and offer a simpler option of those same variables. Instead of being able to edit the exact age of a player’s prime, how about also offering a more modest option of fitting players into archetypes? Is this player a bust? Maybe his prime ends in his second season. Give me the option of editing one thing instead of six things. I think one example gets the point across.
A Playable G-League
We had this at one point last-gen, and it was decent. It was nice to play with some of the younger guys who might not see minutes in the NBA, but the teams were filled with fictional players that weren’t editable. If 2K can figure out a way to get real players in there, or better yet, players with face scans, I think a lot of franchise mode people would be happy.
Moving forward we’re going to see more and more draft prospects skipping college and going straight into the G-League. How great would it be to have some of those guys scanned and in the G-League? It’s similar to how MLB The Show added 100-plus scanned prospects into the game this year. We’d have a head start on custom draft classes.
Rule changes aren’t in any other game that I know of, or at least not to this magnitude. It’s nice that you can vote on the changes in the offseason or override them if you want. But it would be great to able to make any of the rule changes upfront before starting. Imagine being able to change the 8-second clock back to 10 seconds for a historical season with a custom roster. Or setting the shot clock to 30 seconds for an NCAA MyLeague. This mode is truly your ultimate sandbox, and this is a small thing could take it one step further.
The Pregame Show
I liked being able to see the Ernie, Shaq and Kenny pregame show while the game loads. Now I’m forced to watch 2KTV, and then see the pregame show after the game has loaded. It’s as if they want to remove it altogether but want real data supporting that people are skipping it. If I’m playing MyLeague, I’d like to hear about what game I’m about to play (even if it is just generic lines), and not about what new dances they added to The Park.
There are six spots on the coaching staff in the game, and I think that’s pretty good. I’d like real general managers in the game and for an extra assistant spot to be added. I’d prefer the more positions added, the more real people were added to them. Maybe even make some of the classic players available as coaches.
At some point during this generation of consoles, 2K added the ability to edit a coach’s appearance, skills and contract. This is great! And there are almost 200 scanned faces in the editor to choose from. Some of them are 2K employees. Some of them are former NBA players: old Conference USA rivals Francisco Garcia and Jason Maxiell are in there for some reason, as is Jeremy Evans. And some of them are old NBA players with weird hair/facial distortion applied: Steve Blake and Ryan Kelly immediately come to mind here. If they’re not adding the classic players to the coaching pool as suggested above, maybe add their faces to the editor?
Another thing that 2K does well (that Madden has taken out) is players retiring and becoming coaches. The only thing that bothers me is there’s no real rhyme or reason as to who retires and joins the coaching pool. It’s always legendary players like Dirk Nowitzki or Tim Duncan — who is a bad example for the case I’m making.
Here’s a Deadspin-style “Let’s Remember Some Guys” list of recent NBA head coaches: Tyronn Lue, Fred Hoiberg (apologies to Bulls fans), Scott Brooks, Earl Watson, Vinny Del Negro (apologies again to Bulls fans). What do they all have in common, besides being all guards? None of them were ever a top 50 player in the league. My solution would be to add a badge for someone who wants to coach after playing. Or at least expand players-to-coaches to include players who aren’t 10-time all-stars.
Another minor thing I see is when someone becomes a head coach they’re never open to becoming an assistant again. That’s cool if you’re, say, Phil Jackson, but it doesn’t make sense for Jim Boylen (really, I promise, I’m sorry Bulls fans).
Some of the things I mentioned are things that many people have been asking for, like headbands and tattoos. There’s also a list of things I didn’t mention because I don’t know the exact solution outside of “tweaking the AI to sign free agents that make sense.” Some of these things might make it into the game next year, or in some cases return to the game. If 2K is going to leave MyLeague largely unchanged for NBA 2K21, at least give us back the features that were removed.
Regardless, if nothing else I wrote an article mentioning Jerome James, Francisco Garcia and Vinny Del Negro. That has to be the first of its kind, and I will be proud of that for the rest of my days.
Do you agree or disagree with any of the things mentioned I mentioned above? What are some things you’d liked to see improved upon for offline MyLeague in NBA 2K21?