Scouting & Drafting in Franchise Mode

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The following guide is intended to help you get the most out of Scouting & Drafting players in Franchise Mode.


This guide applies to the following games:

The Guide

Since NBA Live 2000, we have been able to select a team or teams and play multiple seasons, complete with offseason features such as free agency, retirement and rookie drafts, collectively known Franchise Mode. Free Agency is fairly straightforward, and is a topic for another guide. This guide relates to the annual rookie draft.

With free agency, it's basically a matter of signing players to smart deals, and signing players who will help the team win (or players that can then be traded for players who will help you win). It's fairly easy to judge how good a player is, as a member of your team or as trade bait. You can see how many points it will require to sign him, his overall rating, and his previous season statistics. When drafting a rookie, there are three things you have to look at - his development potential, his strengths, and his weaknesses.

First, consider these points:

  • Just because a player is projected as being the first overall draft pick does not make him the perfect player, and certainly does not mean he's the ideal player for your roster. Remember, the game generates the rookies before it holds the lottery. If the the projected first overall pick is a PG and the team that holds the first overall pick has a great PG, the wise option would be to look at the other four players who are also projected as being among the top 5 picks in the draft.
  • In some drafts yu may get a couple of players with little or no major strengths or weaknesses. A majority of players in the draft have at least one strength or weakness. Look to draft a player who fits in your system and has strengths that outweigh his weaknesses, but don't expect perfection.
  • Consider the development potential of a player. Just because he's not much of a player now, a player with a lot of potential could be an All-Star in a few seasons. Also note that the overall rating doesn't always accurately show how good a player will be when take control of him (simulating is a different story, as all players without Dstats will produce numbers calculated on their ratings).
  • Generally speaking, good players in the draft (the lottery picks) also have good (or excellent) development potential. But if a talented player has limited or average development potential, is he a risk? Short term, he's a good option, but chances are in a few years, the lesser player with greater potential will be ahead of him. It's not necessarily wise to pass over a good player with less potential, as he can always be traded if it appears he will not show much more improvement. He may even decline earlier than other players in his draft class.
  • This will be discussed in more detail shortly - don't take every Strength and Weakness as being completely accurate. Although player ratings factor into gameplay, remember it is you that must make things happen for the players you are controlling. Strengths and weaknesses give you an insight into the rookie's ratings, but don't take into account your playing style or ability. If you aren't skilled at shooting free throws, then a rookie who is "Reliable from the charity stripe" may not necessarily reflect his scouting report once you take control of him.
  • Having said that, the Strengths and Weaknesses ARE giving you an idea of how a rookie is rated, and must be considered when drafting a player. Just remember that some points in the scouting report depend on your ability to play the game, and that one of the most important aspects of the Scouting Report is the development potential. Sure, your player may need to improve his shot blocking now, but in a few years, he may be leading the league in blocked shots.
  • Be aware of a player's bio. Younger players will usually still be around after older players in the draft have retired. Take note of a player's height and weight. If your team needs to get bigger, don't draft a small position (PG, SG, SF) or a player who is undersized for his position. Like free agency, your goal is to draft a player that will fulfil your team's needs, or provide you with suitable trade bait to acquire the player you need. Since there's no guarantee that the CPU will be willing to make a deal, better to try and get the player you want, rather than getting a player you can shop.
  • If you need to fill a hole at a certain position, you hold a pick that will allow you to select a decent player, but there isn't an available player who plays the position in question, look at the alternatives. Frequently, there will be few decent centres in the draft, but some excellent PFs who are around 6'11" or 7'0". Often if you edit these players with the in-game editor, you will notice their secondary position is usually centre. So, simply make their primary position centre and secondary position power forward, and play them at centre. The same can be done with strong small forwards, versatile swingmen and PGs who have more of a SG's game. This isn't cheating - in the real NBA, players are drafted out of college and made to play a different position (eg Tim Duncan played centre at Wake Forest, but players PF for the Spurs while David Robinson plays centre).
  • Forfeiting draft picks is wise if a draft is weak, or if you want to save cap space (or roster space) to make a run at a free agent (Free Agent Signing takes place after the Rookie Draft). You never know when you'll find a diamond in the rough, so have a good look before you decide to forfeit a pick. In most circumstances, the pick you will forfeit will be a low second round pick, as most first round picks are either good players or filler that can be used in trades or as third string reserves.

With those points in mind, it's time to explore the different Strengths and Weaknesses.

Strengths such as "Accurate shooter", "Solid at the charity stripe", "Deadly from mid-range" and "A threat from downtown" all point to good offensive ratings (FG, 3PT, FT, Shooting Range). However, you will still need to be skilled at playing the game to take advantage of those ratings. Just because a rookie is scouted as being able to knock down most of his free throws doesn't guarantee he will shoot a high percentage...unless you simulate. However, higher ratings do mean a better player.

On the other side of the coin, Weaknesses that refer to free throws, three pointers, jumpshots etc will point to lower ratings in offensive categories, and low ratings generally mean a benchwarmer. However, low ratings do not always prevent players from having good games (simulation of course is different) and if you are a skilled player, you can usually overcome the low an extent.

Strengths and Weaknesses that refer to shot blocking and stealing aren't always accurate. Even on superstar, it is possible to make steals and blocks with low ratings, although it is more difficult. Because you can overcome low ratings or not possess the skills or reflexes to take advantage of high ratings, they aren't always accurate projections of how the player will perform during gameplay - but will impact simulated results.

If a player has "good lateral quickness", then he will have a good Quickness rating. Conversely, a player with "poor lateral quickness" will have a low Quickness rating. If mobility is what you're after, don't select this player. The same goes for speed. These are pretty straightforward Strengths and Weaknesses. However, they do not impact simulated results, so if you're simulating rather than playing, they are of little consequence. References to transition game or fast breaks (on the Strengths side, plays well in transistion, likes to score on the break etc; on the Weaknesses side, gets beat for easy buckets in transition, can't play an up-tempo game, etc) also point to a player's Quickness and Speed ratings.

If a player is listed as being an "explosive dunker", described as being able to "finish a play above the ring", and known for being a player who "gets his share of jams", then he has a high dunk rating and dunk package. The higher his dunk package, the greater the range of dunks he can perform. The higher his dunk rating, the greater his ability to make his dunks. Strictly gameplay-related, and with no counterpart in rookie Weaknesses, it's not necessarily an important rating, but may suggest that while he may provide you with exciting dunks, he doesn't bring much else to the table.

Strengths such as a good basketball IQ, well-schooled in fundamentals/defensive concepts, excellent leadership, approaching the game like a seasoned pro and good shot selection indicate good Offensive/Defensive Awareness ratings, meaning the player is already well developed and will make fewer mistakes. Their counterparts in Weaknesses indicate players who have lower ratings in these categories, players who lack court vision, "can't guard a soul", "perennially confused at the defensive end", have an "amazingly bad shot selection" or are "prone to offensive mistakes". These weaknesses are often balanced out if the player has good potential.

Player size and strength is listed as both a Strength and a Weakness. A big man with guard-like talents may be a valued commodity, while an undersized power forward or centre may be a liability (but not always). This is where changing a player's position comes in handy. An undersized centre may make a great power forward. A tall point guard with erratic ballhandling might be better suited to shooting guard. The problem occurs when a player is reported as needing to bulk up. He may have the height and skills of a power forward and the body of a small forward. However, he cannot play small forward as he does not possess the necessary skills. This is primarily a gameplay concern, but it will impact slightly on simulated performance. In a lot of cases, expected liabilities concerning height and size can be avoided by changing a player's natural position. Similarly, advantages concerning height and size can be exploited by inserting a player at a new position.

Durability and history of injuries are two weaknesses that cause real basketball players to slip in the NBA Draft. In NBA Live, injuries are not very common outside simulating games. This weakness refers to the Hardiness rating, which is an attribute for simulated performance. It usually isn't a great liability, even if you are simulating. If a player's durability is the only thing that makes you hesitant to draft him, forget it. This is NBA Live, you won't place the future of your team in jeopardy if you give this guy a starting role.

Anything to do with inside scoring or posting up, playing with back to the basket, is an indicator of a player's Inside Scoring rating. This affects both gameplay and simulated performance. Even if you're drafting a big man who isn't going to be your go to guy, you'll probably want him to get garbage points on put backs and the odd dunk or post-up move here and there. However, some big men balance out a lack of low post talent with a perimeter game.

In a similar vein, make sure a "lack of a perimeter game" and similar reports are relevant. Occasionally centres and power forwards, not all of whom are known for their ability to shoot the long ball or 18 footer, will be listed as having a weak perimeter game. You may not want that kind of big man, so don't make a hasty decision. Needless to say, if he has no inside game and no outside game, and lacks understanding of defensive concepts...leave him be. This also applies to other positions. If you don't want a point guard who will score a lot of points, or a small forward who has three point range, don't worry about such things being listed as a weakness.

Not every big man in the league grabs 10 rebounds a game, but if you're looking for a post player who will provide your team with rebounding, don't go for a player who is an "amazingly bad rebounder for his size". Unlike shot blocking and stealing, rebounding is not as easy, and low rated players do tend to miss out, and yield poorer simulated rebounding stats. It's important to remember that just because a player is 7'0", he may not be great on the boards. Read the scouting report.

That brings us to some final comments. Read the scouting report for a player before you draft him. Take note of his strengths and weaknesses and be aware which strengths and weaknesses will affect his contribution to your team. Perhaps his weaknesses will be complimented by another player on your roster. Draft smart, draft what you need, and take note of the development potential, so you have a rough idea of whether a player is likely improve in the areas he shows weakness, or whether he is destined to fade into obscurity. Remember that players with great potential can still turn out to be busts.

Have fun building your dynasty!