Team Staff in NBA Live
Beginning with NBA Live 06, Dynasty Mode has included the ability to hire a team staff to aid in the development of players, scouting of rookies and treatment of injured players. They are a replacement for Dynasty Extras intended to add more realism to Dynasty Mode; whereas Dynasty Extras are purchased with points earned through achieving in-game tasks such as registering a triple double, having each player on the team score or scoring over 40 points with a player, the concept of Team Staff is meant to closer reflect the real basketball operations of an NBA team.
Staff are hired prior to each season in a process similar to free agent negotiations. Like players, staff are rated on their abilities with higher rated staff being better at their jobs and thus yielding better results.
Original Team Staff
The following staff are available to hire in the "last gen" versions of NBA Live 06 through NBA Live 09; these include the PC, Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube releases during that span. The Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 07 and 360/Playstation 3 versions of NBA Live 08 also included these roles, with the Assistant Head Coach being added on all platforms in NBA Live 07.
The Assistant Coach (sometimes simply referred to as the Assistant) is responsible for training players in NBA Live. Although the entire team is trained (and thus may develop) when training time in offense, defense and athletics is assigned, the user selects one player for the Assistant Coach to work with closely in an effort to maximise their development potential. The amount of progress the selected player makes in a single training session, as well as the overall development shown by the team, is governed by the Assistant Coach's rating as well as the development attributes for each individual player. In other words, a highly rated assistant coach working with a player with excellent development potential will mostly yield very positive results while a low rated assistant will not be as effective in training players and players with poor development potential will still show more limited progress even when being trained by a highly rated assistant.
Assistants may specialise in certain areas, which in real terms means that they will be able to boost certain ratings quicker and higher than normal. Areas that an Assistant may specialise in include Big Man, Shooting, Rebounding, Defensive and Guard. Depending on whether the user wishes to assemble a roster that relies on its big men or its guards, or needs help getting stronger offensively, defensively or on the boards, an Assistant with a speciality may be preferred to maximise training results for the desired effect. Assistant Coaches without a speciality have more balanced abilities and can produce good all-around results depending on their ratings, but will not favour one area of development in particular.
Assistant Head Coach
Added in NBA Live 07, the Assistant Head Coach manages team events including training sessions and off-days. They can also be used to automatically manage the team's rotation and investigate league rumours. As with all team staff, Assistant Head Coaches are assigned a rating that determines how well they can do their job with the highest rated Assistant Head Coaches being able to effectively schedule events, manage the rotation and investigate rumours while those with lower ratings do their job with much less precision. Specialities for Assistant Head Coaches include Planning, Administrator, Training and League Insider. These specialities allowed more effective scheduling of daily events and training sessions and more accuracy in investigating rumours. An Assistant Head Coach without a speciality simply has balanced abilities in all areas and will not be noticeably better at one of their duties than the rest.
Tasks for the Assistant Head Coach can be manually changed after a schedule has been put in place, or automated so that the Assistant Head Coach will continue to plan team events throughout the season without the user being prompted to review the schedule and make any desired changes.
Two forms of scouting are represented in NBA Live; providing scouting reports on the next rookie class so that an informed decision can be made come Draft time and scouting information on the team's next opponent. A Scout can only perform one duty at a time, so if they have been assigned to scout rookies they cannot provide a report on the team's next opponent. Since the latter can be easily researched through the statistics screens and gameplay experience, Scouts are most frequently used to research and profile players in the upcoming Draft. Scouts can research up to five different players at once (focusing on either offense, defense or athletics as specified by the user), which takes six days. After their scouting trip has concluded, they may be assigned a new task. Scouts do not report back with specific player ratings but instead report a letter grade for each rating. The accuracy of their report and the amount of information they can provide with a single scouting trip depends on the Scout's rating, with the higher rated Scouts being much better at their jobs.
Scout specialities reflect the different regions of the world that generated rookies may come from. A Scout may specialise in scouting players in North America, Europe, Africa or Asia and will yield more accurate and informative results when scouting players from the region that they specialise in. If a Scout has no speciality, their effectiveness in scouting all regions will be equal.
A team's Trainer is responsible for looking after injured players. Better trainers help players recover from injuries faster, whereas a player's return might be delayed if a team has a low rated trainer. Trainers are automatically assigned to an injured player and for the most part, the user does not need to take any action with them. Trainers specialise in specific areas of the body, with their Specialities including Arms, Legs, Arms & Legs, Torso, Torso & Arms, Torso & Legs or the Entire Body. These specialities allow a Trainer to help players recover faster if their injury involves an area of the body that falls under their particular speciality (eg a Trainer specialising in legs will help a player with a sprained ankle recover sooner). A Trainer without a speciality is not especially effective with injuries of a particular type but remains well-rounded in treating injuries, with their effectiveness depending on their rating.
Approach to Hiring
Users are provided with a budget they can spend on team staff at the beginning of a Dynasty game as well as before each subsequent season they play. They are then able to negotiate with available staff of each type, in a process similar to signing free agent players with the better staff demanding higher salaries. It is up to the user whether they want to sacrifice results in one area for greater results in another.
For example, players who are uninterested in playing multiple seasons may not find much use for a top Scout. The frequency of injuries may be decreaed or injuries may be disabled completely and the savvy GM may find other methods of compensating for a missing player in the event of a prolonged recovery which means a highly rated Trainer is unnecessary. If the user wishes to schedule events themselves and/or has little interest in investigating league rumours, they may choose to forego hiring the best possible Assistant Head Coach. Few users however choose to sacrifice the ability to train players to their full potential and thus hire the best Assistant Coach that is available. It could therefore be argued that a good rule of thumb is to first hire an Assistant Coach and then budget for the remaining staff with the leftover funds.
Users can hire more than one staff member for each role but must hire at least one of each. It is therefore possible to budget for an extra Assistant Coach that is lower rated and cheaper, but is available to focus on a second player when assigning training time. While an additional Assistant Coach or Scout may prove useful, there is generally no need to hire more than one trainer as most users often do not experience enough injuries all at once to justify an additional trainer. Users looking to spend their budget elsewhere should generally consider hiring a cheaper trainer, owing to the alternative methods of compensating for injured players and the limited usefulness of Trainers in NBA Live when a team does not have any injured players.
New Team Staff
Beginning with the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 version of NBA Live 09 a new approach to Team Staff in Dynasty Mode has been introduced, combining the model of hiring staff with the ability to earn points similar to Dynasty Extras. By reaching goals set forth by the team's direction - rebuilding, competing or contending, as nominated by the user - Dynasty Points are earned which can then be used to develop the team's staff. This model is expected to return in NBA Live '10.
The Offensive Coach takes the place of the Assistant Coach in developing players' offensive skills through drills in the NBA Academy. Their ratings determine how effective they are in training players and hence how much progress will be shown when successfully completing Academy drills or simulating training sessions.
The Defensive Coach also takes the place of the Assistant Coach from former NBA Live games, helping to develop players' defensive skills through the NBA Academy drills. As usual, higher rated staff are more effective in developing players to their full potential and can themselves be developed through earned Dynasty points.
Scouts fulfil the same role as in previous games, scouting generated rookies who can then take part in scrimmages in the NBA Academy during the offseason. As with the other new staff members, they can be improved using Dynasty Points earned for reaching season goals with higher rated Scouts yielding better results when reporting on players.
The Team Doctor has replaced the Trainer in Dynasty Mode, aiding in a player's recovery from injury. They too can be developed using Dynasty Points to increase their ability to help players return from injury much faster.
As with generated rookies, the names of team staff are taken from pools of first names and surnames comprised of both common names and the names of NBA Live producers which has sometimes led to odd and amusing combinations of names. In the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 versions of NBA Live 08 and NBA Live 09, photos of members of the NBA Live Development Team have been used to put a "face" to staff members however the photos are used randomly with several generated staff members using the same portrait.