SB Nation Labs’ new series “Fumble Dimension” started with a new version of Jon Bois’ 2014 “Death of Basketball” article. During the six weeks it took to make the video, Jon and Kofie kept a diary of what they saw. Feel free to read along with the video, or enjoy it separately. Either way, here are the findings.
July 25th, 2019
After months of discussion with my research partner Kofie Yeboah, we have elected to begin the NBA 2K experiment. In brief, we will attempt to create a portal to a cursed world.
Five years ago, I conducted an experiment. I created a 2K player who was as small, talentless, inept, and stupid as possible. Worse than any random person one would pull in from off the street.
And then I cloned this player until there was an entire NBA draft class full of him. And then I fed this draft class into the game’s franchise mode, year after year, decade after decade, until no real-life NBA players remained. The sport of basketball was destroyed.
I have long regretted my failure to keep proper statistics of this misadventure. Equipped with more time, endless spreadsheets, and the simulation expertise of Mr. Yeboah, the two of us intend to fully chronicle this horror.
I would like to believe I am a good person. But is this what good people do?
- Jon, 5:59 p.m.
July 26th, 2019
I am exploring the Create-a-Player mode. A wealth of options is at our disposal. Notably, the mode allows us to select a type of injury a player is most vulnerable to, and how many days it is likely to keep him out of action. For instance, if this is as it seems, a player might miss up to 480 days after sustaining a bloody nose or getting the wind knocked out of him.
Player attributes are all pulled down to 25, the lowest possible value. Tendencies -- as in, the player’s tendency toward a certain shot or behavior -- are another matter. In the experiment five years ago, I set every tendency at 0. I consulted with Kofie, who suggested we set them all at the maximum of 100, just to see what happens. Our reasoning is as follows: fuck it.
- Jon, 2:04 p.m.
The Xbox keeps overheating while Kofie is attempting to create the draft class. It doesn’t want us to do this. Will take a shift of my own later.
- Jon, 5:31 p.m.
July 29th, 2019
Two consoles and one weekend later, I have finally finished out the roster from hell that Jon started. I had to save early and often like this was a term paper that counted for 25% of my final grade. Whenever I tried to change too much data the Xbox One would shut down 2K and I’d have to start over from my last save point. This might be because this is an older version of the console, or this might be a game problem.
Luckily, now that the big building part is out of the way I don’t expect us to have anymore problems like this because our MyLeague will likely run on autosaving.
The draft class is here.
I wanted to test out the abilities of these players without compromising the NBA rosters so I decided to go to the classic teams.
For the sake of the article I’m not going to spoil how these characters play like so far, but boy oh boy you’re in for a treat.
- Kofie 4:45 p.m.
July 30th, 2019
Before we start simulating I want to give some background on what exactly we’re doing here. We will be using the MyLeague mode and tracking as many seasons as it takes to completely jack up the league. Now NBA 2K tells us that we have to control one team, but they *didn’t say* that we had to be good at it. Sorry, Warriors.
We also will be automating everything we can except for the draft class, which we will import ourselves. Now apparently storylines can be added to the players in this draft class. I have no idea how that affects it so I’m going to say no.
Every season the sim will stop to ask us if we want to see the All-Star team captains. This will be obnoxious at first, but has the potential to be absolutely hilarious. A crazy thing that is in NBA 2K19 is “advanced stats,” which is something that seems mad unnecessary for this but I will welcome it with open arms.
We can also scout the shitty draft class that we put in the game. Now a weird thing I’m seeing is that the scouting report ALTERED the heights and weights of some of the players, so some players actually 5’2, which is BELOW the possible heights we made when we were making create a players. Is this because I put prospect scouting on Auto? There are so many settings in this one that I honestly can’t tell which one changes prospect height. One thing that didn’t change, however is that they all still suck.
At this point in time we are rejecting any rule changes that could potentially be made in the league.
So. During the Draft Combine we found out that damn near everybody had an eye injury and that is considered a serious draft concern. We are not making this up. This is real. In the combine the highest vertical leap was 26 inches. That’s it not ideal, but oddly enough it seems that everyone doesn’t completely suck at jump shots.
NBA 2K has also added Summer League, so we will get to see these players way earlier than expected.
After Season one we have one 40 Overall on the Warriors, He is currently reserve status, but don’t worry D.J. Gatling, Your time will come.
August 2nd, 2019
We are on season 2 of NBAY2K2 and our 40 overall for the Warriors, D.J. Gatling, has already played five games for a grand total of five minutes.
I just want to take the time to shout out Kurt Ryan, who made All-Rookie 1st Team without actually playing a game. We had some productive rookies this year, but they were from our draft class. They consisted of players that were already on two-way contracts. I think we’re going to see a decline of rookie production really soon. Congrats to Jacob Evans III for being named rookie of the year. Yes, that’s a real player, so shout out to him.
In addition to Vince Carter and Jamal Crawford, a lot of our 40 overall players are already retiring, which … fair. 29 teams voted to eliminate the shot clock, but we’re going to override this rule change … for now. Now usually after a season or two the players start to regress or progress. Our 40 overalls aren’t doing either. This is progression purgatory. No one improves, no one declines.
Despite the rookie class and summer league rosters running rampant with awful players, it seems like regular season players have been affected yet. When predicting when the first 40 overall would start/make a major impact, Jon said four years while Kofie went high with eight years. We’ll see who is right in the near future.
August 5th, 2019
Season 4: I’m not sure how long the takeover will take because we have a considerable number of 40 overalls retiring. I’m not sure how efficient the draft class infiltrations are. However, like Thanos, destruction is inevitable. After one month of simulating, the highest total number of minutes for a 40 overall is 2.
However, thanks to another Steph Curry injury, we finally have a 40 overall in the 12-man rotation. The little people are moving up in the league!
Season 5: Holy shit, LeBron James is a 95 overall at age 37.
The Rising Stars challenge seems to have disappeared. I didn’t sim through it and it was definitely in season 4. Maybe we have reached a point where there aren’t enough players to fill out a roster for it. Which means that we are getting closer and closer to the takeover.
Also LeBron retired. Damn. End of an era. He was so good that he got his jersey retired on three different teams! Take that, Kobe.
We are also extremely close to a summer league roster of all 40 overalls. Dammit Cody!
Season 6: After disappearing for one season, the Rising Stars challenge is BACK… wait never mind it disappeared again LOL. So what I’m guessing is happening is that there aren’t enough young international players to make a Rising Stars roster. Which is wild because we totally didn’t take the places hometowns into account at all when starting this. Maybe we can vote to bring the Rookie-Sophomore game back?
Season 7: After six seasons, it doesn’t look like we’re making any real progress right now. The main reason why is because all of these two-way players and G leaguers are coming up and getting in the way of everything.
Season 8: Now we’re getting into a nice simulation routine. Steph Curry is 37 years old and looking like the next star to retire. The 40 overalls are making a slow, but steady climb in the rosters. The team with the most 40 overalls on the roster is currently the Orlando Magic with four people.
It took eight seasons, but we finally have a summer league team with all 40 overall people. Let’s see how this goes.
Season 9: Devin Booker JUST turned 30. Damn.
DeAndre Ayton just won MVP for the Detroit Pistons. Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially in the simulation,
We’re also, one year away from a new CBA and a new TV deal and I don’t know what that means but it’s about to go DOWN.
So remember earlier when we had a player make the All-Rookie team without playing a game? Now we have a player on the All-Rookie 1st team that isn’t even technically on the team. Yes this guy has a contract with an overseas team and is ineligible to sign a contract for a year and STILL made 1st team all rookie. Wow.
Ladies and gentlemen, WE HAVE MINUTES!
August 6th, 2019
Season 11 continued:
So over the course of the season the 40s’ minutes would fluctuate due to injuries and stuff. Here’s an example of the Warriors roster when it’s full of injuries. This is crazy.
Side note: The Xbox One crashes are BACK, baby, making this simulation twice as complicated as it needs to be. Great. Help me.
DeAndre Ayton has won his third straight MVP award and I don’t know how to feel about this.
Season 12: It’s all going to shit. The Warriors team we’ve been keeping a close eye on has to start a 58 overall shooting guard because all of the 40 overall players are Centers. Curry, Harden and Cousins are gone and now the NBA is damn near unrecognizable. There are only three free agents in the 70s range. The rest are all 40 overalls, baby.
I’m sure this specific team wouldn’t be ass if we actually let them make awesome free agency moves. We however, have sat back and watched the fireworks.
Also. I’m sorry.
The 40s are starting to show promise as rotation players. No one knows how this happened or why it happened, but the end is near. We’re getting phases of play with multiple 40 overalls on the court at the same time. Their impact and footprint is growing ever so slowly.
The Warriors now have a 40 overall as the 6th. Guys, this shit is about to go nuclear. We are at the point where 2K is making up undrafted players that are better than the 40 overall rookies. Because this:
Is not a real person.
I had to make sure that the draft class wasn’t contaminated or that there wasn’t an error, but no. 2K is making up undrafted players to compensate for the fact that we made them all centers. Which is another thing that we weren’t expecting this time around. Well played, 2K. Well played. Also our Warriors team is 7-75 on the season. You love to see it.
I think all of the contracts except for two players ran out because in the offseason it looks like this now.
Season 15: As confirmed. NBA 2K is making up undrafted players, but no worries because we now have our first 40 overall in the STARTING LINEUP. HELL YEAH.
There is a new season fill roster option which will automatically sign players to fill roster to the NBA minimum. Jon thinks that the players are SO bad that the NBA teams refuse to sign them, so NBA 2K makes up players. Let’s put this to the test.
At the end of the season, there was a prompt for me to fill out the rest of the roster with players. I have 12 spaces to fill. I choose not to do it and the game crashes multiple times because I can’t sign anyone. They wouldn’t take my offers. Help us.
August 8th, 2019
With Kofie out of town, I’m reviewing his video files. In particular, I am recording the PER of every player over the years who has played enough to qualify for the stat. This requires hours of manual data entry. It is almost unbearably tedious. But it is worth it.
Thus far, I have recorded five seasons’ worth of PER data. I have plotted all five seasons, arranged from best to worst player.
There is no meaningful difference to be observed so far. This is my prediction: once it changes, it will change very quickly and dramatically. This will not be gradual.
We’ll continue to see key retirements in the coming years. But if a player can hang on for long enough to stand as one of the only giants left in the league, his PER will skyrocket. Perhaps to the 40s or above.
- Jon, 7:42 p.m.
I’m back from being out of town and I want to try to solve the undrafted player effect. My hypothesis is that this is because we made the draft class all centers. I’m making a second draft class and spreading out the positions to see if that fixes our 2K problem, but for season 16 we’re going to keep it as is and not change the overalls of anyone 2K added for us.
Our Golden State Warriors went 0-82, which has to be because we don’t have a single real NBA player on our roster. This is incredible. The All-Star rosters are giving us players we’ve never seen before.
It’s also of note that after nothing but centers for 15+ years, not a single center was drafted in this year’s class.
It seems like changing the positions helped stop the 2k created player influx because now the Warriors only have 1 non 40 overall on the roster. The 60 overall was a 2K-made-up player, but we seem to be getting closer to the apocalypse.
The All-Star teams look wonky, as a character named Ivan Radja is the All Star Captain now. I’ve also decided to watch the three-point contest and dunk contest this year. A 37-year-old DeAndre Ayton won MVP again. I predict that him retiring will be the true last domino to fall. He’s only a 75 overall now, but he’s dominating the league.
Season 19: At last, we have a team with all 40 overalls so we tried a game against a team that didn’t start any of them, and holy shit we got waxed.
It looks like we’re going to have to wait out the players 2K made up in our stead for this to be a fair fight. This also marks the first season where the MVP isn’t an actual real player. The MVP of the league was a 66 overall. For context, that’s the same overall rating as Kyle Collinsworth in today’s game.
Season 20: This is where it gets interesting, because there are teams with a lot of 70 overall players and teams with only 40 overall players. Jokic and Giannis are on our coaching staff and they’re easily better than anyone on the roster.
I just noticed that DeAndre Bembry is rated 92 overall in Season 8, making him one of the best players in the NBA. The prior seven seasons he barely played at all, or at least not enough to register in the PER column.
Reader, I will be honest with you: I could not remember who DeAndre Bembry was, and until I saw that he had an actual photo, I’d assumed the game had made him up.
- Jon, 11:50 a.m.
We are just waiting for the eventual cascade of phasing out the not good players. As one of the teams with all 40 overall players, we are on a steady diet of not only losing games, but getting destroyed in each game.
Now, I also discovered something. It seems after the free agent period is simmed every year no free agent deals were made. All of the team rosters only had 2-3 players on it. It seems like 2K then takes the first 12 players available *by rating* and gives it all to one team and then the next best overall goes to the next team and this happens in alphabetical order, so by the time the Warriors have a chance there are only 40 overalls.
This also happens every year as the people 2K made up have 1 year contracts while the draft classes that we made get rookie deals. This means that our Warriors team will be terrible until the playing field is level… so like a decade?
Season 23-26: We’re making progress on the simulation. As more and more players are retiring the playing field is evening out and the Warriors look like they are winning more games.
Season 26: the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs, winning only 28 games. This caught me so much by surprise that I didn’t realize it until the playoffs were over. Meanwhile the dominant Philadelphia 76ers went 79-3. In fact, FOUR teams won 70 games in the EASTERN CONFERENCE ALONE
The Golden State Warriors are third in the Western Conference with a grand total of 38 wins. Jesus, the Western Conference is atrocious.
Season 29: Holy shit, the Warriors finished .500. We’re getting closer.
Season 30: The Warriors won 45 games this year and LeBron James has retired from the league again, this time as an assistant coach!
Season 31: The Most Valuable Player is a guy named Daniel Mills, who averaged 5 points and 35 rebounds a game. A 6’9 34-year-old who went undrafted. This is a 2K-made-up player who is still dominating the league because he’s just tall. In fact, there’s a huge spike of rebounds per game across the board.
Is this what the 1960s were like?
The Philadelphia 76ers went 82-0. YUP, 82-0. They also went 82-0 the season before. Jesus.
Want to see their roster?
Yeah. That’s all it takes now. They also went 16-0 in the playoffs.
With that being said, the total dominance of one team means that the 2K fill-ins are getting phased out. We’re so close. Hang in there, NBA. 5 of those 76ers players retired after this season. This might be the final straw for the good players of the league. Stay tuned.
Only three non-40-overalls remain in the entire league. Of course, they’re all on the 76ers. Sam Hinkie was a genius. Let’s see how a game between our Warriors and the 76ers plays out.
Meet Johnathan Bucker.
He’s the only 6’10 player left in the league, and he’s getting all the rebounds. He’s only 50 overall. After all of this, he didn’t even make the All-Star team because he suffered a right ankle sprain. Of course.
Well, there’s only one thing left we can do: try out the three point contest. Oh dear God.
The dunk contest isn’t better. It’s just a bunch of players glitching out and only getting 30s. Because they don’t even look like they’re dunking. Adam Silver needs to change that shit.
As expected, Johnathan Buckner wins the MVP as a 48 overall, averaging 43.8 rebounds a game because he’s tall as shit. He’s also 37.
Season 34: We have finished the job. The infiltration is complete.
Season 36: This is the year I’m going to start installing 0-tendency guys into the game to see just how shitty this can get.
Season... I don’t even know anymore. The year is 2055: It seems that the 0-tendency guys infiltrated our roster in no time at all.
All is... won? No that can’t be the saying.
Season I have no idea: This is the All-Star game. The funniest part about this is the NBA 2K broadcasting crew pretending that nothing is different.
All is lost.
The Warriors win the NBA Finals again, but at what cost?
All is lost.
All is lost.