Feature Article
NBA 2K14: Attribute Changes Needed

Editors Note: This is a guest post from Josh Schultze. a longtime fan of NBA 2K and member of Operation Sports. You can find Josh on Twitter @TheFakeJoshS or you can connect with Josh via his blog.

NBA 2K13, in some ways, is the most superior sports simulation on the market. But when I start up a game with the hopes of enjoying a realistic basketball simulation, I’m inevitably grounded by a few shortcomings within the game which I believe need to be addressed in the future.

And while I can paint with a much wider brush to critique this game, I’ll narrow this down to some attributes for NBA 2K which will revolutionize the series.

Let’s break down Offense Awareness; it’s a purposely vague skill within NBA 2K which makes users feel like its effects are more widespread than they actually are. There seems to be very little understanding of the concept of spacing in NBA 2K13.

Despite the improvements upon the last iteration of the game, AI players still interfere with the offense and more importantly, AI players don’t gravitate toward strategically advantageous areas of the court .

Deep sharpshooters step inside the three point line for no reason, and other players similarly move outside of their range for reasons I can’t comprehend.

All of this screams that the AI players don’t comprehend spacing and location on the floor.

The solution to this is to make spacing an actual rating within the game which solves this issue. Spacing will serve as basically offensive off-the-ball court awareness, and the players with higher ratings will be more inclined to cut at the right moments and basically move into areas of the court that challenge defenders and maximize their success.  

Medium and Long Range Shots
Medium and long range shots are already related to attributes in the game, and I’m not suggesting they change dramatically from where they are at currently. But the boundary between these distances does not directly follow the three point line – it needs to be a specific distance from the basket.

The corner three is not just there to look cool – it’s tactically valuable because it’s essentially a long two that’s worth an extra point, and it doesn’t necessarily take a special skill set to knock them down. It helps if the shooter is great at knocking down threes, but I’ve also seen Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard make threes from the corner – shooting from the top of the arc is a completely different animal than from the corner, as one example of how shooting locations are simply different.

Interior Defense

This is not Post Defense. Interior defense isn't about guarding a big man slowly ramming the defender under the basket for an easy two - it's that extra step the defender takes to deter a driving guard from finishing the play and forcing him to pass out and reset.

It doesn't take a professor of spatial reasoning to know that it is easy to make shots close to the rim, which makes interior defenders pretty valuable. And interior defense often comes down to a couple of steps taken by the defender at just the right moment to abandon an assignment and put a body between an attacking offensive player and the basket.

Wing/Perimeter Defense

This is basically just the outside version of Interior Defense. Both of these two abilities are currently encompassed by Defense Awareness, but they require specific skills sets. And yes, NBA 2K13 gives a letter grade for Perimeter Defense, but the calculation is skewed toward athleticism, so guys like Jason Terry and Ray Allen can score in the B range, which means it’s a flawed metric to begin with.

Defensive Effort
Grading Kobe Bryant's perimeter defense is challenging. He's been voted one of the best defensive players in the NBA, and indeed, at times, he can be a nightmare for offensive players. But the Lakers typically match up the slower Metta World Peace against the offense's best wing player (to give Bryant some rest) and Bryant just doesn't always appear that invested in defense.

This is not just a Kobe thing, though; the phenomenon is witnessed in players who are saddled with more offensive responsibility. So as troublesome as this concept may be to some fans, defensive effort should be a measurable ability. Players with low defensive effort will play lax at times on defense when they get tired or are just carrying the load on offense. If Emotion is a player rating, this can totally be one, too.

Off-ball defense

Again, this is largely a critique of Awareness ratings. Defense Awareness may include the ability to sense off-ball cutters, but I'd prefer it chopped up into a few unambiguous categories. Off-ball defense would cover tendencies such as ball-watching tendencies, handling off-ball screens, rotations, and the awareness to realize that the offensive player has just snuck into the corner to set up a three.

NBA 2K doesn’t currently value defensive players very highly since the majority of their skill sets are made up of two attributes (On-Ball Defense and Defense Awareness) plus athleticism, so defensive specialists often wind up with poor overall ratings, and thus they ride the bench.


Ok, so this one is not an attribute, but I might as well throw it in here. This would require altering the player models, which could get tricky, sure. But wingspan gives players an added advantage in rebounding, blocking, and on-ball defense, since offensive attackers have to get around defenders’ arms before they can drive to the hoop.

It's not just a college degree anymore. This ostensibly resembles the Defensive Anchor ability, but teams need to suffer or benefit more from typical player talk on the court.

Certain players, like Andrew Bogut, talk to their teammates on defense to prevent breakdowns. These players are usually given the Defensive Anchor ability, but teams shouldn’t just benefit from great communication – they should suffer when the players don’t talk to each other. Poor communicators would lower each player's defensive ratings, whereas great communicators could improve team defensive ratings.


Manu Ginobili has been on the court about 23 minutes a game this season and has not cracked the Spurs’ starting lineup once (until the playoffs). In March, Ginobili was the first NBA to ever appear on a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) and said he is “comfortable and happy with [his] role on the Spurs.” So why does he moan and complain when I try to bring him off the bench for my Association Spurs?

Even LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade sat multiple games (Wade may have an injury issue, but likely he’s being rested as a precautionary measure) and no one’s heard them whining.

Players in NBA 2K can be bigger divas than actual NBA players, and many of them start to grumble even when they sit for one meaningless game due to their long-term fatigue.

Ego doesn’t have to be an attribute – it can be designed similarly to player personalities so that an individual player might not care if he’s benched for a stretch of games, but will freak out if he’s benched for the rest of the season when his team decides to tank for a lottery pick.


Josh Schultze is a writer from Texas who somehow grew up a Green Bay Packers fan. He writes about sports, video games, movies and television on his blog, Most Valuable Waste of Your Time. He also enjoys posting entertaining thoughts in 140 characters or less; follow him on Twitter @TheFakeJoshS

Member Comments
# 1 NINJAK2 @ 06/25/13 04:54 PM
Great read with solid ideas.
# 2 knight13951 @ 06/25/13 05:01 PM
I agree with almost all of your points. These attributes can greatly improve NBA 2K14
# 3 ccoaxum @ 06/25/13 06:09 PM
great write up, glad i'm not the only person who felt that way about the game
# 4 kjjnesb @ 06/25/13 06:19 PM
The last one on Ego is long overdue. The moral feature has pretty much been broken since the day 2K introduced it. I'm shocked that they've let it go unchecked for this long..
# 5 jersez @ 06/25/13 06:23 PM
Nevermind, I say chris as the original poster and thought that was ld2k, oops. But I love the ideas of the ratings.
# 6 Sheen_O_Mack @ 06/25/13 06:25 PM
Excellent write up, I agree with everything you said
# 7 FM_Prospect @ 06/25/13 07:30 PM
Great stuff!
# 8 BreaksoftheGame @ 06/25/13 07:31 PM
Effort. This is a must. Players who compete every play of every game have a skill that is hard to teach. Manimal, Eduardo Nareja, Jeff Foster examples.....

Left and Right Hand skills. Or more off hand attributes to differentiate those who can handle and finish with either hand from those who cannot.
# 9 J_Posse @ 06/25/13 08:15 PM
I really like all of your ideas as well as BoG, above me. Hopefully, the guys over at Visual Concepts had similar ideas to help separate the various players in the league and their skillsets.
# 10 cream6 @ 06/25/13 08:19 PM
Players models look funny to me. That is why I stayed away from 2k. 13 was intruiging because the Nets were in Brooklyn. I watched a few games on YouTube and players never seem to space the court on offense. Player would gravitate to the PG for some reason. For the the first time in my life I will tryout 2K gaming with 14. I just hope the change the players models because they all look like buff bagwell. Lol
# 11 LamarrEscobar @ 06/25/13 08:49 PM
I agree! I would also like them to make association a bit more realistic when it comes to CPU minutes on other teams, And real life line ups. For example Jr Smith always starts including Manu, Crawford. Association seem to go by ratings and not real life player roles.
# 12 lone_wolf74 @ 06/25/13 09:13 PM
A couple things I'd like to see.

There is a difference to guys being hurt and out. I sim a lot of games to get to the playoffs and just to get through seasons. So a lot of time I just let the cpu adjust my rotations. The cpu is constantly subbing out my hurt guys when they can still play. It happens with the AI squads as well.

A real coaching carousel. I'd like to see a real fight for coaching changes or better strategy at least.
# 13 Slava Medvadenko @ 06/25/13 09:16 PM
These are great. I agree with all of them.

Some others I'd like to see: passing speed, passing in traffic, boxing out awareness, dunk in traffic(very few should have a high rating), and on-ball defensive strength(the ability to not get shoved away on drives and layups/dunks).
# 14 Phreezy P @ 06/26/13 02:05 AM
I agree with all the points

Composure should be a rating as well.

The NBA is a league where runs are pretty much the driving force of every game. Composure should be a rating so that some players don't get fazed by the momentum swings and are just plain cold-blooded, and some players do get fazed by it and start rushing.

For example, Players like Kevin Durant rarely go through stretches where he struggles from the momentum swings, and he doesn't really force the issue and makes shots consistently. But players like Manu Ginobili and Russell Westbrook sometimes force the issue when down and cause unforced turnovers and lower their teams efficiency. So obviously Durant would have a pretty high rating in the 90's, and Russell, Ginobili would have ratings in the 60's maybe.
# 15 tril @ 06/26/13 02:06 AM
good read
I thought that the Medium and Long Range Shots were already in the player attributes and off set by a defenders attribute. isnt this a players hot spot. this was an emphasis in I believe 2k11. and never checked to see if it was still in the game.

The interior defense slider..- yes its a bout time they branch this out some more.

One slider Id like to see added is body control when going up for a lay up in traffic. or at least more differentiation between players being able to take a hit and finish a layup in control etc.
# 16 sactown_13 @ 06/26/13 02:16 AM
CPU logic in terms of lineups/minutes/trades has to be overhauled. Im tired of seeing teams with two pissed off PG's trade for yet another PG. I have to turn off player roles so decent basketball players arent rated 12 points lower because they are upset.
# 17 gjneff @ 06/26/13 03:52 AM
There is a rating for perimeter defense already, not just the letter grade.
# 18 chapnis @ 06/26/13 06:28 AM
I agree with the Manu Ginobili point so much. Unforunately I don't see 2K doing too much to improve unless EA provide some real competition.
# 19 Robrarian @ 06/26/13 11:00 AM
Originally Posted by chapnis
I agree with the Manu Ginobili point so much. Unforunately I don't see 2K doing too much to improve unless EA provide some real competition.
Yeah, so do I. Never fails....every season he begins it as the 6th man. And every season about halfway through, he and his agent are demanding a trade, LOL.

Very good read with some interesting suggestions. I'm really intrigued by the communicator/defensive anchor dynamic.
# 20 jmaj315 @ 06/26/13 11:01 AM
I agree with most of what you have here. One thing i think would be cool for the Ego thing, is a player sit-down. If they're tired, tell them you're going to rest them. if they're playing poorly, let them know they need to step it up, etc.
This could also go with a mood system rather than than just the 0-100 morale scale. I think it would help *shrugs*

« Previous123Next »

Post A Comment
Only OS members can post comments
Please login or register to post a comment.