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Sunday, July 27, 2008

So You Think You Can Be A GM? Here is the Game for You!

PASPN.net has launched what Ngozika Nwaneri describes as "off-season fantasy basketball, the first fantasy basketball game governed by the rules of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement." You can find the game at http://paspn.net/default.asp?p=90. Nwaneri explains, "Users can either take over the GM duties of an NBA team or create a Sport Agency based on the end of the 2007-08 regular season. The object of the game is to re-tool your team for the up and coming Fantasy basketball season and to find new homes for NBA free agents during the free agency period. In addition to traditional trading (which involves matching player salaries), GMs have to decide team options, create a draft list for the rookie NBA Draft, negotiate player buyouts, and work with agents to sign free agent players during the free agency period. Agents decide player options (like Baron Davis, or Gilbert Arenas for example) and look out for the best situation for their clients. The game is pretty involved as it captures all the elements and drama of an NBA off-season from both the GM and Sports Agent prospective which is why it starts in the summer time (now) unlike traditional fantasy basketball games. The game is unique because it crosses into the business of sports as it tests a user's business savvy both from an NBA GM's prospective as well as from an Agents prospective. We created the game because many NBA adult fans think they have what it takes to be an NBA GM, but in reality the task is very demanding." This is the perfect fantasy game for any fan who grumbles that he could run an NBA franchise better than the GM of his favorite team; ESPN.com's Bill Simmons often brags about how he could run an NBA team better some real GMs do, so it would be interesting to see him try his hand at this game.

Here are Nwaneri's replies (via email) to several questions about "PASPN.net Mock GM 2008":

1) What initially inspired you to create a game that incorporates the real-life financial aspects of running a team?

Having studied and operated an NBA fan site the last 12 years, I realized that nothing brought together an NBA community better than discussing the possibilities of player movement during the NBA Offseason. With so many opinions from fans about what a team should or shouldn't do, an environment needed to be created so that NBA fans could effectively answer the question: "What would I do if I were an NBA GM?"

2) How did you decide on the rules and parameters for how the game works?

In order to effectively answer the question, "What would I do if I were an NBA GM?", a user had to play by the same rules as an NBA GM which are enforced by the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). To make the game a bit less restrictive and more fun, some slight adjustments were made to the NBA salary cap in the game and some of the CBA rules policies regarding trades, but other than that, the basic rules of the game are the same as if a user were an NBA GM.

3) Have you applied the information that you used to develop the game to evaluate how effective real NBA GMs are? In other words, if real NBA GMs were playing this game how well would they do based on the decisions that they have made?

In developing the game, I realized that there are many different ways to evaluate the effectiveness of real NBA GMs. If you think about it every year only one GM can win the NBA Championship, but that doesn't mean the other 29 GM in the league weren't effective. Every year the question NBA GMs are faced with is how much will it cost my franchise to produce a winning product and will that winning product equate to a profit. The fundamental goals for every NBA GM is to produce a winning product without overspending. If a GM manages to win without overspending, one can say they were effective.

4) What kind of feedback have you received so far from players in terms of the game requiring them to understand the collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap, etc., as opposed to just picking the best fantasy players?

Players are thrilled about the rules of the game being governed by the collective bargaining agreement because it adds to the experience of playing fantasy basketball. There is a sense of ownership because of the commitment needed to understanding the rules and loopholes of the CBA and if a user does happen to produce a wining product, they can say they built their team just like a real NBA GM would have.

5) Do you have any plans to create similar games for other leagues, like the NFL or MLB?

The NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement is one of the better governing rules models in professional sports as well as the most intriguing. The issue with creating a similar game for MLB is that there is no cap on player spending so as far as rules are concerned there really isn't any boundaries. The issue with the NFL is that contracts are not guaranteed and only skill set players are included in todays fantasy football model.

6) Have certain statistical systems proven to be more effective in creating a winning roster? For instance, Hollinger's PER, Berri's Wages of Wins, NBA EFF--do you know of any players who are basing their decisions on any of those metrics and, if so, which of those metrics have proven to work best in "real life" scenarios?

The Mock GM games uses a slight variation of the NBA's Efficiency rating in correlation to a players' salary as an effective way of measuring a teams potential for winning. Teams with a mixture of efficient players and superstar players tend to do better than teams with one or the other. Mock GM players look at the efficiency rating as a factor in determining what that player can provide them once the regular season starts.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:29 AM

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