We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how Shammy Wells is shaping up to be the real protagonist in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER, at least in my game.
Early on in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER, I remember feeling like Justice Young was the real star of the story. He was getting more shots, he was levelling up a lot quicker than I was, and in terms of the narrative, he was the one driving the action. As the year progressed, I surpassed him in Overall Rating and on-court performance, and by the time we hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy, it was clear that The President of Basketball was indeed the protagonist of the story, and the star of the team. Despite my usual aversion to the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, I did enjoy last year’s tale. In terms of gameplay, I also liked having Justice as my teammate.
My reactions to the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K18 are…well, not so positive. I’ll go into that in greater detail at a later time, but suffice to say, I’m not a fan of the writing, characters, or the plot in general. As for the gameplay, I knew that I’d have to grind my way up again – it’s always the way – but I wasn’t counting on being outshone by a fictional player once again, and even more so than before. Through the early stages of MyCAREER in NBA 2K18, I have to admit that it doesn’t really feel like the story is actually about my career, at least on the court. Instead, it feels like D.J. is merely providing the soundtrack to The Shammy Wells Show.
Shammy Wells has essentially replaced Justice Young’s character this year. He becomes your best friend on the team, and he’s even a guard from Seton Hall, just like Justice. Unlike Justice, however, he isn’t a fellow rookie. While he doesn’t have any career statistics, he’s listed as a five year pro, and is portrayed as an established player who takes you under his wing. Conceptually, it’s an understandable decision. The tale involves a veteran volunteering himself as your mentor, and by making that player fictional, he easily slots onto any team. As such, there’s no need to record lines for a bunch of real players. The last time 2K did that, it was unintentionally hilarious.
Mind you, I might take Eric Gordon’s bizarre delivery over Shammy Wells’ character. Like pretty much every character in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER, Wells is obnoxious and annoying. In all fairness, I believe he’s actually supposed to come across as obnoxious and annoying, so at least the characterisation is on point. Talented but extremely cocky, Shammy wastes no opportunity to brag about his skills, despite the fact he gets about as many minutes as you do at the beginning of MyCAREER. Of course, the story does suggest that his attitude gets in the way of his talent, and ultimately, his success. He does indeed have some decent ratings out of the gate.
If nothing else, Shammy Wells likes to shoot. The shot is going up whenever he receives the pass, and unless you call for a pass when he has the ball, you’re highly unlikely to touch it again on that possession. In fact, even if you do call for the pass, he’s going to wave you off a lot of the time. It’s not uncommon for Shammy to get the ball in the backcourt, run it up, and immediately a shoot a three-pointer. In my experience, he does admittedly tend to knock down quite a few shots, but his hoggish style of play is even more cringe-worthy than some of his dialogue in the cutscenes.
With that being said, on the occasions that you do get an opportunity to pass him the ball, he’s generally good for padding your assist totals. If he’s open at the three-point line, you can usually hit him with the pass and start running back on defense; he’s getting the trey, and you’re picking up the dime. Needless to say, his no-hesitation approach on offense has not only helped fill my stat sheet, but also allowed him to put up some big numbers of his own early on in the season. I had some huge assist numbers playing alongside Justice Young in NBA 2K17, but it looks like Shammy Wells might just help me set a few records in NBA 2K18, too.
In one game, he put up sixteen threes in only fifteen minutes, hitting ten of them to tally 30 points. He’s averaging 17.7 points per game in just 16.1 minutes, on 10.8 field goal attempts. His average of four threes per game (on seven attempts) is third best in the league, at a league leading 57.1% clip. He’s shooting 55.3% overall, and 84.6% from the free throw line. Per 36, he’s averaging a jaw-dropping 39.6 points per game, with a PER of 36.9. He’s not doing too much else, with 1.2 rebounds and (somehow) 1.3 assists per game, but he certainly is shooting the lights out. And then, in my most recent game, this happened.
Yes, that’s right. Shammy Wells, in 21 minutes off the bench, dropped 52 points. He attempted 21 three-pointers (and 26 shots overall), knocking down sixteen threes to break Stephen Curry’s record of thirteen, set last season. Amazingly, he also managed to register two assists, though mostly contributed to a bulk of the thirteen that I tallied. In all the MyCAREER games I’ve played since getting into the mode back in NBA 2K13, I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a teammate score over fifty points; certainly not in less than half a game, at any rate. With his prominence in the cutscenes, and his huge role on the virtual hardwood, he’s shaping up to be the star of MyCAREER.
It truly is bizarre. In the past, quite a few gamers – and I’m one of them – have complained about the dissonance between your player’s abilities and on-court performance, and the story being told in MyCAREER. Despite low starting ratings, your player has often been treated like a superstar or can’t-miss prospect. The narrative makes it seem like all the attention is on you, no matter how well you’re actually playing. Granted, you’re the protagonist, so it makes sense for the action and story to revolve around you, and allow you to earn sponsorship deals and the like a little quicker than you would in real life. Nevertheless, it’s still been a little odd.
With NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER and Shammy Wells, however, it seems like the mode has gone in the opposite direction. Sure, you’re still getting a lot of opportunities very early on in your pro career, and unless you paid for some VC to upgrade quickly, you’re probably still grinding your way up from the low starting ratings, all the while being treated like a superstar and the biggest story in the NBA. Despite that, for me at least, it feels like I’m playing second fiddle to Shammy. I guess I could hog the ball or freeze him out, but he is a good source of assists. I did enjoy racking them up with Justice a lot more, though.
Perhaps it is a matter of the playcalling setting, as was suggested to me in the Forum. Maybe it’s something that will change as I continue on the Road to 99, and take on a bigger role with the team. Maybe Shammy Wells is actually intended to be a parody of MyCAREER gamers, hogging the ball and putting up ridiculous stats even before earning a lot of minutes; if so, despite my criticisms of the story and characters in general, that would be kind of brilliant. For now, though…Shammy Wells, you the real MVP. Well, you certainly will be, at this rate.