The DEL help pages merely tell you how to accomplish certain tasks needed to run your team. This advice page attempts to go beyond those basic necessities, and explores what players and coaching decisions you need to run a good team. You will also find helpful information in the pro or college advice pages. Be aware that this does not take the place of the standard help files; you will be just as hard-pressed if you know how to scout but don't know the mechanics required to free agent bids as if the reverse were true.
My hope is that the information here will help you learn DEL basketball more quickly, and hopefully enjoy your first seasons more. However, you should not expect to make the playoffs instantly, as it takes time to get a feel for scouting and coaching, acquire the players you want, and have the team "gel".
A caveat for this tutorial is that much of what is contained is one veteran coach's opinion rather than absolute fact. Part of this is because of the trial-and-error nature of learning to coach; part is because different coaching philosophies result in different "optimal" players as well as different coaching strategies. This tutorial tries to show some of the options that are present; undoubtedly other valid options have been omitted (and will be filled in over time).
What to Look for in Players
Basketball is the most flexible DEL sport, in that any role or responsibility can be assigned to any position. For example, if you were so inclined, you could list a short player with good passing skills at center, give him assignments to play on the perimeter, handle the ball, and defend an opposing guard, and he would play no differently than if he were listed at point guard. Because of this, each of the four main skill sets is described first.
Passing: There are two ways the ball can be moved on the court: passing and dribbling/driving. The odds of a successful pass depend on the skills of both the passer and the receiver. A good pass requires primarily good passing skills and intelligence for the passer; passing, aggressiveness, and intelligence for the receiver also help. If passing into the low post, the recipient's height is also helpful. Driving uses only one player's skills; the odds of success are related to the player's passing and aggressiveness, as well as height if driving to the hoop. Intelligence is an intangible factor; the smarter player doesn't necessarily have better passing or scoring opportunities, but is more likely to make the best pass and take the best shot.
Scoring: Once a player has the ball, the odds of a shot going in are determined by a variety of factors. In the paint, the primary factor is the player's scoring ability and the secondary factors are aggressiveness and height. For medium-range shots, the primary factor is scoring and secondary factors are aggressiveness, shooting, and height. Finally, on the perimeter, the primary factor is shooting and the secondary is scoring. Because of the different skill sets for different distances from the hoop, you will want to set each player's shooting depth so that he will take his best shots.
Defense: Defending consists of three actions: defending passes, drives, and shots. Against either a pass or drive, passing, defense, and aggression are all important skills, with height important inside. When defending a shot, the most important skills are aggression and defense, with height important in the paint but not on the perimeter.
Rebounding: Rebounding (both offensive and defensive) uses three skills: defense, aggression, and height. Because of the similarities with shot defense, the best rebounders are generally the best inside defenders.
Stamina: Stamina isn't directly factored into any of the above skills, but will help a player play more minutes while fatiguing less. As such, it is more important in your starters (especially a star) than in your reserves.
Post Players (C, PF and sometimes SF): Like the other DEL sports, acquiring talented players is the key to building a winning basketball team. And, just like the real world, there really is no substitute for height. Not that untalented tall players are the answer in all situations, but reasonably talented tall players will eat up similarly-talented short players in most situations, particularly in the paint.
The three main jobs for post players are to rebound, score, and play defense; the ability to pick up an assist is a bonus in my opinion. As noted above, rebounding and defense utilize similar skill sets inside; if you add scoring to those skills you will have an effective post player. In general, you want your center to be equally skilled in offensive (scoring and rebounding) and defensive (defense and rebounding) abilities, power forward about 60% offense, and small forward about 70% offense.
I include SFs here since they can either be utilized as post players or perimeter players (or both) depending upon their attributes and your preferences for a coaching strategy. If you have or prefer SFs who are tall and can go to the hole, then the skills described for C and PF apply. If you want your SF to put up 3-pointers like a guard, then look at the description of a perimeter player when picking a SF. A true luxury (and very dangerous player) is a relatively tall SF who has skills that let him go either way.
Perimeter Players (SG, PG, and sometimes SF): The main jobs for guards are 1) pass the ball, 2) score, and 3) play defense. The PG's primary job is to distribute the ball to the open shooters, with their own scoring ability often being secondary. Because the best ball handlers are frequently the best defenders, the PG also generally matches up against the opponent's best perimeter shooter in man-to-man defense. A good SG is about 60% offense (shooting and passing) and 40% defense.
The typical job of the SG is to shoot the ball, primarily on the perimeter. Good passing and defense are nice to have as well, but are of secondary importance. A good SG is about 70% offense (shooting and passing) and 30% defense.
Roster Composition: You must carry two players at each of the five positions. However, you need to have 3 players available to play each position during the game, although the third player on the depth chart is usually used only as an injury- or late-game substitute. DEL pro basketball has a roster limit of just 12 players, leaving only two extra spots, while DEL college basketball allows more flexibility with a roster limit of 18. With only two extra players at the pro level, I would suggest carrying one extra post player and one extra guard, and use the SFs as swing players who would have some proficiency as both guards and post players.
Prototypes: To give specific help in terms of scouting, I have developed the following player prototypes. Each player is given 43 "points" of skills, the average for players in DEL basketball (height counted from 6'2"). The points are then distributed according to my estimate of relative importance. "Imp" is my estimate of the relative importance of having a good player at the position.
The flexibility of the DEL basketball system is apparent here, since all prototype players are fairly well-rounded. This reflects the fact that most roles ona team can be carried out by more than one position. The result is good passers at both guard positions (and decent passers at all positions), good outside shooters at SF, SG, and PG, good inside shooters at C, PF, and SF, and solid defense everywhere. The last one is important -- unless you plan to send in man-to-man matchups for each game, you don't want a defensive weak link on your team.
Pos Ps Df Ag In Sc Sh St Ht Imp
C 5 7 5 6 7 4 2 6' 9" 9
PF 5 7 5 6 7 5 2 6' 8" 7
SF 7 7 5 6 6 6 2 6' 6" 7
SG 8 9 6 5 6 7 2 6' 2" 7
PG 9 8 6 6 5 7 2 6' 2" 10
While the prototypes are all well-rounded players, chances are you can't build a team fully from all-stars; you'll also need some role players. In general, the following types of role players can be very useful. In fact, a team built from these five players would likely be very good.
Pos Ps Df Ag In Sc Sh St Ht
C 2 8 7 3 1 1 2 6'10"
PF 3 2 2 2 6 2 2 6' 9"
SF 3 2 2 2 7 4 2 6' 7"
SG 4 2 2 3 7 8 2 6' 2"
PG 9 7 6 6 2 2 2 6' 2"
Remember when I said that there is no substitute for acquiring talented players? While fundamentally true, you have a great deal of flexibility in determining the coaching strategies that you will use. You can even change your coaching strategy from game to game, basing it upon what you think each of your opponents will do. One thing to keep in mind is that the more often you use a particular defense (e.g., man-to-man or 2-3 zone), the better your team becomes at using it. There is no such bonus/penalty on offense, so you can change your offensive strategy at will.
The first elements to set are your depth charts and bench usage options. As mentioned above, you will need to declare three players at each position. I basically set my bench usage option based on how much I want my second- and third-string players to play. Both player abilities and coaching strategies play a role here: a higher value for stamina allows your starter to play longer with less fatigue; a fast pace on offense and/or heavy trapping or full-court press on defense will cause your players to fatigue more quickly. So, bench usage is a balancing act.
Rotation groups can also be used to influence which players are on the court, keeping in mind that they can also be used to limit the role of players whom you do NOT want on the court. Another element of bench control comes from the "use when ahead" and "use when behind" options. I use the "use when ahead" option primarily to specify defensive players, and the "use when behind" option to specify offensive players. But keep in mind that you need to account for both offense and defense at all times, so again it's a trade-off.
Offensive coaching: Primarily handled through the "situation coaching" and "player settings" options. Situation coaching is for determining your overall offensive strategy (pace, motion, and general shooting-depth) in each of the various game situations (ahead, behind, etc.). The player settings allow you to specify what each and every player's role in the offense might be. Designated rebounders are removed from the offensive flow (they position themselves for offensive rebounds, not for taking shots). (Note that designating a rebounder affects only the offense, not the defense.) Designated shooters will put up a shot when given a chance, while handlers are the ones who bring the ball up-court. A good suggestion for new coaches is to play a few games with no specialists set, and see what happens. This gives you a feeling for what your players will tend to do if left alone. Then use the specialist settings to reinforce the good things that are happening and to restrain the bad things.
There are any number of ways to set up your offense. Keep in mind that you can also let the players basically "do what comes naturally" by not defining any specialists (i.e., shooters, handlers, or rebounders). In that case I would still suggest setting the depth that you want players to play/shoot at, although the default values for their respective positions should suffice. The more important depth setting is shooting depth, which largely determines how many three-pointers the player is likely to attempt. Players with a shooting-depth of 'C' are unlikely to attempt a trey the entire season (usually fine for post players), while players with a shooting-depth of 'PG' will almost always be launching it from way downtown. You should tailor shooting depth to your players' scoring, shooting, aggression, and height, but keep in mind that most players will also take an open shot if it is offered.
Another option is the ability to give instructions to players defended by a specific player on the other team. As with the assignments in the previous paragraph, this may be something to hold off on intially since your players will generally make the right adjustments. Against man defense, use of these options can be of limited value, since the opposing coach can set every matchup if he chooses. Against a zone, however, this can be extremely useful. In addition to the "normal" use of this option, you can try to put a specific opposing player in foul trouble by going at him frequently.
Regarding pace, a fast pace will result in many more shots than a slow pace. That's more shots (especially more shots from your guards), not necessarily more good shots. If you want your team to take more inside shots then a slower pace is optimal, as the offense needs some time to pass the ball around in order to find someone open on the inside. Keep in mind your team's overall level of stamina, as a fast pace will tire your players out more quickly (though it will tire out your opponent as well). You should also take your team's skills into account. If your guards are great passers, then you will want to slow the game down and play halfcourt. If you can run the other team into the ground, you may want a fast offense. The other effect is luck. The fewer shots taken by both teams, the greater chance the worse team has to get lucky and win.
A high-motion offense will try to get players open by cuts, screens, etc.; a low-motion offense will rely more heavily on dribble penetration to force the action. Because a motion offense induces more fatigue and because fast-paced offenses usually rely on transition and guard play, it is rare to see a fast-paced offense (1 or 2 pass) using motion. That said, this is a new addition to the sim, so it is unclear when it is the most beneficial to use motion.
Defensive coaching: Defensive options are chosen mostly through the situation settings. In addition to the "defense" and "secondary defense" options, the other key defensive options are "press" and "trap". The defense option determines your primary defensive set for each situation. The secondary defense is only used when you select 1-2 key opposition players. This can be helpful if you want to isolate a particular oppostion player, and use a standard defense whenever that player is not on the court. Note that the primary defense is used whenever the key opposition player(s) is on the court, which means that it is still used even if one of the other four opposition players is the one attempting a shot.
Man or zone? As far as I know the jury is still out. Plenty of coaches use one or the other consistently, some coaches use both (letting either the game situation or the opponent determine which they use). Mostly, it depends on how much work you want to do. If you have some defenders much better than others (most teams do), your most effective defense would be a man-to-man defense in which you specified matchups for every game. That's quite a bit of work, however; using a zone will mix up the matchups throughout the game so that no one bad defender is likely to get abused too badly.
Man defense does have one other advantage: you can select a specific player to double-team whenever he gets the ball. Of course that leaves other guys open, but if you're playing a one-man team this is useful. To do this, you need to (1) set your matchups so that the coverage of that player is specified, (2) set that player as your "defense key", (3) set your primary defense to "double player", and (4) set your secondary defense to whatever it should be when he is not on the floor.
Note that the game favors teams with some defensive continuity. If you play a different defense each game, your players will not be particularly good at any. It is best to have a general-use defense (such as straight man, matchup zone, or 2-3 zone) well-rehearsed, as well as something to handle teams with one good shooter (like box-and-one or double player).
The other key defensive options, trap and press, are used as follows. Heavy trapping and heavy press can generate more turnovers, but also result in more fatigue and easy baskets for the other team.
Finally, as with all of the DEL sims, there is no one way to win, and there is no substitute for experimenting with different coaching options. However, allow enough time for your coaching changes to have some effect. Making changes for just one game won't tell you much, since the talent level and coaching settings of your opponent, whether you are playing home/away, and dumb luck are all important factors in determining the outcome of any given game.
written by Jay Schlegel
additional suggestions by Andy Dolphin