Every player in the NBA has his tendencies. Some prefer to take a shot at the top of the key, some prefer to post up. Some like to handle the ball on a pick and roll, others like to do the rolling. Of course, tendencies change throughout the season--new coaches, new teammates, player injuries, or just a few of the myriad things that can change throughout the season, causing individual players and teams alike to adjust over the course of the season. While sports video games have long claimed to mimic real-life player tendencies, EA Sports' upcoming NBA Live 09 is looking to take that to the next level with daily, yes you read that correctly, daily updates for player tendencies during the NBA season.
Unveiled today during the EA Sports segment of today's EA press conference, the Dynamic DNA feature (as it's known) looks to accurately gauge the way players and teams change throughout the season. Based off of technology from Synergy Sports, a premiere sports analytics company, the Dynamic DNA feature will download new player data daily across a number of different player tendencies: isolation, pick-and-roll ball handler, pick-and-roll roll man, post up, spot man, off-ball screen, and cuts, as well as such tendencies as how often the player moves left or right when facing off with a defender.
This kind of information will show up onscreen in player profiles, with numbers associated with each aspect of a player's game. If a player has a high tendency to post up, you'll see a big number in that category; if he never plays the off-ball screen, you'll see a zero (or at least a very low number) in that section. In addition, just as teams are groups of individuals, teams in NBA Live 09 will develop their own team tendencies based on the DNA of their players. If you add in a new player to the mix (think of Pau Gasol going from Memphis to Los Angeles), the chemistry of that team will change accordingly. The system seems to be built off the hot spot system that was in last year's game--indicating the areas on the floor where a particular player is hot. It's currently unclear whether the system will take into consideration player tendencies--or rather "reset" the data with daily player updates.
Where player tendencies should have the biggest impact will be in play calling. Depending on what player you're controlling at any given moment, you'll have a number of different plays to call. To bring up the play-calling screen, you press the left bumper; a small menu will then pop up showing four plays available to you, along with an associated DNA tendency number indicating the chances for success when calling that play with that particular player. For instance, when controlling Kevin Garnett during the demo, the player had four options: Pierce, isolation (Y button); Garnett, post up (X button); Allen, off-ball screen (B button); and Allen, get open (A button). The best option, based on the DNA percentage number associated with the play call was the Garnett post up; the demo player called the play and managed to put the ball home with KG.
While the dynamic DNA system was the focus of today's presentation, it's far from the only feature to be found in NBA Live 09. The game will include a new pick-and-roll control system that will help you control the ball screener and the ball handler on pick and rolls; an NBA rewind feature, where you can replay recent games with updated statistical data; a basketball version of the Be a Pro mode found in last year's FIFA 08 and this year's NHL 09; better defensive controls; and online custom leagues, with drafting trades and a single-elimination playoff system. We look forward to taking all of these features for a spin--and getting a better look at the Dynamic DNA system--in the near future, as our coverage of NBA Live 09 continues throughout the summer.