Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dimer Badge and the Shooting Meter in NBA 2K15

Last night while playing NBA 2K15 I realized that the reason my open three-pointers don't drop with the consistency that I've long been used to is that the developers have unwittingly taken steps to nullify it.

The reason "Zig Zag" and Iso-3PT strategies work so well compared to the conventional means of generating three-point looks (something referred to in NBA circles as "Ball Movement") is that exceptionally poor badge balance allows players (scrubs) to get away with what would otherwise be ineffective basketball strategies.

Badges have a powerful impact on various facets of the game, and if a roster editor doesn't have a firm understanding of their effect on game mechanics, the effects can be devastating.

More specifically, via NBA2K4Life
This skill is reserved for top-notch passers who are known for hitting open guys in the correct position to score.  Dimer fires off when passing the ball (not from the post) to an open teammate.  The pass will hit the receiver on point and will give him up to a 10% bonus on two-point shots and a 4% bonus on three-point shots, so long as the potential made shot by the shooter would result in an assist for the Dimer.

At press time, there are only 22 NBA players with any level of Dimer.  One of those is Steve Nash, who is out for the year.  To say this is ludicrously imbalanced compared to the other skill badges might be the 2K understatement of the year.

As I covered last week, 87 players have Posterizer, which is pretty much ever player in the NBA remotely capable of dunking.  68 have Lob City Finisher, which is probably every single player whose even caught a Lob this year.  63 have Tenacious Rebounder, which is basically every PF/C in an NBA rotation.  These badges were given out like consolation prizes at your local church league.  Everyone's a winner!  Unless you're a passer (and consequently, a shooter; more on this later).

Ironically, Dimer is perhaps the easiest skill badge to evaluate.  Merely posting Assist rates makes it look like 2K has no idea what they're doing here.

48.5 Ricky Rubio (Gold)
46.1 John Wall (Gold)
45.9 Russell Westbrook (Bronze)
44.4 Chris Paul (Gold)
44.2 Ty Lawson (Gold)

42.0 Michael Carter-Williams (Bronze)
41.4 Rajon Rondo (Gold)
40.4 Brandon Jennings (Silver)
*40.3 Steve Nash (Gold) - 2014 Stats
39.6 Jeff Teague (Bronze)
38.2 Stephen Curry (Gold)
37.3 Mo Williams
35.9 Tony Wroten
34.6 Jrue Holiday (Silver)
34.0 Kyle Lowry (Silver)
34.0 Andre Miller
33.6 D.J. Augustin
32.3 Deron Williams (Bronze)
32.2 Dennis Schroder
31.0 Elfrid Payton
30.7 Kendall Marshall (Gold)
30.4 Shelvin Mack
30.3 Derrick Rose
30.1 Nick Calathes
29.7 Jose Barea
29.0 Damian Lillard
28.8 Jeremy Lin
28.7 Donald Sloan
28.4 Mike Conley (Bronze)
28.3 Tony Parker
28.2 Brandon Knight
28.1 Jarrett Jack
27.9 Darren Collison
27.5 Jameer Nelson (Silver)
27.5 Beno Udrih
27.1 George Hill
26.9 Kemba Walker
26.9 Eric Bledsoe
26.7 Nate Robinson
25.7 Steve Blake
25.7 Phil Pressey
25.2 Reggie Jackson
24.7 Kyrie Irving (Bronze)
22.8 Isaiah Thomas (Bronze)

That last one just made me vomit in my mouth a little.
Andre Miller: 9th All-Time in Assists (NO BADGE)
Isaiah Thomas: 29 more assists than Miller in 561 additional minutes.  I'm guessing 2K Sports went to the Charles Barkley Skool of Analytics.  Or maybe they confused Isaiah with Isiah (7th All-Time in Assists)?

2K has some idea of what they're doing up top but clearly have no idea who is in the middle tier of passers - exemplified by the fact that there are only four "Silver" Dimer players in the entire league.  That's less than 1% of all NBA players.

WINGS (20+ AST%)
38.0 LeBron James (Bronze)
36.5 Dwyane Wade
35.0 James Harden (Bronze)
31.9 Manu Ginobili
30.0 Kobe Bryant
29.4 Tyreke Evans
27.3 Lance Stephenson
26.2 Evan Turner
23.7 Kevin Durant
22.7 Monta Ellis
21.4 Gordon Hayward
20.3 Rudy Gay
19.9 Nicholas Batum


31.96 Dwyane Wade (35th)
28.77 Allen Iverson (57th)
26.25 Tracy McGrady (87th)
25.19 Clyde Drexler (97th)
25.15 Manu Ginobili (98th)
24.93 Michael Jordan (101st)
24.43 Kobe Bryant (105th)

Dwyane Wade: The best passing SG of all-time.  No Dimer badge.
Marco Belinelli: 36 Career Dunks (1.0% of FGA).  Bronze Posterizer.
I rest my case.

BIGS (15+ AST%)
25.7 Blake Griffin
22.1 Josh Smith
20.5 David West
19.6 Boris Diaw
19.1 Al Horford
19.0 DeMarcus Cousins
18.9 Marc Gasol
18.1 Joakim Noah (Bronze)
18.0 Josh McRoberts
16.9 Tim Duncan
16.8 David Lee
15.6 Andrew Bogut
15.3 Draymond Green
15.1 Zaza Pachulia
14.9 Pau Gasol
14.9 Paul Millsap

It bears noting that the Post Playmaker badge (the big man version of Dimer) was removed after NBA 2K14 and no longer exists.  These badges had identical functions (Post Playmaker triggering only out of Post situations, Dimer everywhere else), but instead of consolidating the badge and distributing Dimer to deserving big men, 2K just gave the badge to Noah and called it a day.  Sloppy, short sighted, and devastating to the game's mechanics.

2K also removed the "Catch and Shoot" badge (aka Spot Up Shooter in 2K13).
"This shooter is known for his ability to spot-up and knock down perimeter shots while shooting from a stand-still position.  The penalty that users receive for bad shot timing (i.e. releasing the shot too early or too late) is decreased by 30%.  This skill becomes available when the player is standing still, shooting 12 to 28 feet from the hoop and not posted up or dribbling."

Finding a lack of consistency this year?  Pissed off at the shooting meter?  Look no further than the removal of this badge, which had previously been the most wide-spread badge in the game based on research I conducted on the last gen version of NBA 2K14.

The biggest complaint about the shooting meter is that release timing has too great an impact on shot quality, especially with regard to the league's top shooters who should be money when left open.  In five months worth of critiques I've read on this subject (including this poll, launched by 2K's Gameplay Director), NONE have factored in the absence of this badge.

Volume Shooter
Tenacious Rebounder
Post Playmaker
Catch and Shoot

By removing Catch and Shoot, the Dimer skill bonus becomes more important than ever to prospective shooters in NBA 2K.  Yet the assist bonus has never rarer for a game promoting it's badge diversity.  Moving forward, 2K obviously needs to address this.  
Spot-Ups make up a little more than 1/3rd of all NBA possessions.  The game will not resemble NBA basketball or maintain a high level of balance if generating rudimentary looks isn't properly rewarded.  Conversely, there is no doubt the game rewards dunking and chucking.

2K Sports has their game on the cusp of greatness, and it would be a shame if technical oversights like this lead to it never achieving it's goals.  The game does an excellent job of immersing a player in NBA culture, but the on-court product still leaves a lot to be desired.


jc said...

Good read. Thanks for sharing.

Rey said...

How come the dimer badge never pops up when the dimer capitalizes on its usage tho?