Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
One of the most appealing aspects of the franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K is the ability to make the trades that you’d love to see happen in real life. Frustrated that your favourite team can never seem to pull off a blockbuster deal that lands them a superstar? In franchise modes, you can make it happen, and live out a few fantasy scenarios. Of course, just as in real life, you’ll need to deal with the restrictions of the salary cap, as well as convince other teams to agree to the trades that you offer. I’d suggest that a few of us have found out that building a great roster isn’t always easy.
When we don our virtual GM suits and start wheeling and dealing, there are some common types of trades that we end up making. Sometimes, we try to be realistic, while other times we’ll make unthinkable deals. Some trades are very good, some trades are very bad, and some trades work out very differently than how they looked on paper. Sometimes, they can make or break the franchise mode experience. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m looking at five types of trades we’ll make when we play through a franchise game in NBA Live or NBA 2K.
1. “I Love This Player” Trades
In some cases, “love” may be too strong of a word, but this essentially covers the trades that you make because you really want a certain player on your team. Perhaps they’ve always been one of your favourite players, someone you’d like to see join (or in some cases, return to) your favourite team. Maybe they’re just really on a roll and grabbing a lot of attention in real life, and you decide that you’d like to play with their virtual counterpart. Whatever the case may be, you want to get this player onto your roster, and you might even be willing to overpay to make it happen.
Trades like this usually work out for the best; when they don’t, it’s usually because the player turns out to be a disappointment. That often happens when a player’s video game performance doesn’t quite measure up to their play in real life, even if their ratings and attributes suggest that it should. Alternatively, if you’ve given up too much for a player you wanted, you might find that you’ve created some new problems for your roster. However, assuming you don’t run into those issues, you’ll generally find that these trades enhance the franchise mode experience, allowing you to win games (and championships) while teaming up some of your favourite NBA players.
2. “I Hate This Player” Trades
On the other hand, there are also trades that you’ll make because you want to get rid of players that you don’t like (or indeed, outright hate). There are times when our favourite teams will sign or trade for a player that for one reason or another, we just can’t stand. Franchise modes give us the opportunity to send them packing, which can be kind of cathartic, on top of potentially improving the roster. Similarly, if you choose a team that you wouldn’t normally control in a franchise mode – perhaps because of a couple of their players – you might be inclined to change the look of their roster via a few trades.
Ideally, you’ll be able to combine two approaches here, acquiring a player that you really like while trading away a player that you don’t. Unfortunately, that’s not always feasible, especially if the reason you don’t like a player is because they have dismal abilities while being grossly overpaid. Such players are hard to move – just ask any real NBA GM – and if you want to be rid of them, sometimes you’ll just have to settle for less. As for players who don’t have bad contracts, but just aren’t good enough to attract any interest, chances are you’ll give up and release them into the free agent pool sooner rather than later.
3. “I Just Ripped Off the CPU” Trades
While there’s still room for improvement, the logic behind CPU-controlled teams making and accepting trade offers has greatly improved over the years. It’s still possible to get the best of the AI when offering trades, but it was even easier back in the day. While the trade logic in today’s games tends to consider a variety of factors, in older games, there was a fairly straightforward method of getting trades to be accepted. As long as the CPU was receiving equal or better value in terms of the total of the overall ratings of the players involved, and they weren’t left too weak at any given position, you could usually get a deal done, salaries permitting.
These days – particularly in MyLEAGUE and MyGM – you also need to consider factors such as the players’ ages, as well as a team’s goals and current success, because the AI certainly will. Nevertheless, savvy franchise gamers will still be able to put one over the CPU from time to time, resulting in some lopsided trades. This isn’t necessarily unrealistic, of course; in real life, teams rarely receive equal value when they trade away superstars, and we do see some dumb trades at times. In any event, these are the trades that allow us to acquire players we really want, and put together stacked teams, which can be a lot of fun to play with…well, sometimes.
4. “I Just Ruined My Lineup” Trades
Roster-destroying trades in the franchise modes of basketball video games come in a few different flavours. First of all, you’ve got your standard bad trade. This is where you give up too much and end up weakening your roster, take on some bad contracts that will come back to haunt you later, or a deal that looked good on paper just doesn’t work out, perhaps because a player performs below expectations when you play with them. Thankfully, unlike real NBA GMs who botch trades, you can re-load a save and pretend that it never happened. You did keep a backup, didn’t you?
Second, if you happen to make a few of the aforementioned trades where you rip off the CPU, you can end up with a lineup that’s so stacked it’s no longer fun to play with. You’ve also weakened the competition, so not only have you ruined your lineup, but potentially the lineups of several other teams as well. Finally, even if all your wheeling and dealing hasn’t resulted in a super team, too many trades may leave your roster lacking in identity. Sometimes, if you stray too far from reality or simply make trades too often, it sucks all the fun out of your roster. Whatever the case, lineup ruining trades also tend to quickly spoil entire franchise games.
5. “Everything’s Falling Into Place” Trades
Like the third bowl of porridge, these trades are just right, albeit without the looming presence of any bears…unless you’re controlling or trading with the Memphis Grizzlies, I suppose. Whether you’re acquiring a player you really like, trading away a player you dislike, seeking a suitable replacement for a player who is underperforming, or shaking things up with an intriguing offer from a CPU team, everything falls into place, and the deal works out for you in the long run. Your revamped roster is fun to play with, the competition isn’t weakened; in short, all is well, and everything just clicks.
Obviously, these are the kind of trades that you always want to make, but sometimes, you just don’t know how a deal is going to work out. When I traded Jalen Rose, Marcus Fizer, and Roger Mason Jr. for Kevin Garnett in my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty, I had a lot of fun. Conversely, some shrewd deals I made in the second year of my Chicago Bulls Dynasty in NBA Live 06 seemed like good ideas, but almost derailed the experience, until subsequent trades balanced out my roster again. Even if you’re smart when making trades, carefully considering the pros and cons, the results can often come down to sheer luck. I’m guessing a lot of real GMs would attest to that.
Do you like to wheel and deal when you play the franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K? What are some of the best, worst, and most interesting trades you’ve made? Sound off in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.