"Trust the process" has become the rallying cry for fans of the Philadelphia 76ers — or maybe just the preferred slogan to mock — who have suffered through several seasons in which the team for all intents and purposes tanked. The idea has been to build up from nothing with several years of high draft selections and maybe lure away high-caliber free agents once the young and cheap nucleus was in place. Unfortunately, the team has drafted poorly and the "process" is continually being adjusted in the wake of its failure.

Many sports fans feel as though they could do a better job as the General Manager of a team, whether it be through a rebuilding process or in sustaining a dynasty. With Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2016 aspiring GMs get the opportunity to test that hypothesis out for themselves.

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Wolverine Studios has been producing PC management sims for 10 years spanning multiple sports and Pro Basketball 2016 is the fifth release in the hoops series. Management games aren't actively "played" in the way that console games are, but instead utilize the simulation engine with a level of control given over the outcomes based on completing transactions, training players, enacting strategies, and making in-the-moment coaching decisions.

DDS: Pro Basketball 2016 is an unlicensed game and that means there is no NBA or team branding included. The city names and team colors are accurate but team names and logos are not.

The game offers a number of customization options to swap out those generic elements, replacing them with the real names, logos, and courts. All the real players are featured in the game as they don't require any licensing. By linking up with Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2016, even draft classes from that game can be imported.

Among the new features for this year the biggest is Historical Replay. This mode begins in 1976 instead of the current season. Rather than "replaying" history as the name would suggest, this is more about rewriting it.


In one of the runs made with Historical Replay, I turned the team that was still listed as Oklahoma City back into the Seattle SuperSonics. The rosters are accurate — led by Slick Watts and Fred Brown — and the 1977 draft class included all the names that were taken that year.

Of course after it all begins, the circumstances will change for every team. That means the draft order will be different, trades will be different, and free agency signings will be different. Chances are that Michael Jordan won't end up landing on the Bull

s and instead he'll go to the team that finds themselves at or near the top of the 1984 Draft. That creates intrigue in seeing how everything will differ over time, but means there's no opportunity to play with the actual complete rosters of the most desired teams from the past.

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One of the biggest hurdles for sports management sims involves making the games accommodating to newcomers while offering the depth and array of options necessary to satisfy dedicated fans. Pro Basketball 2016 proves to be the most accessible of the sports management games I've played to date. The layout and menus are visually pleasant and present pertinent information where one would expect to find it. Tasks and various options and settings are organized well with the necessary navigation to and from areas easy to complete.

As well designed as the game is on a fundamental level, a number of issues and bugs were encountered along the way. In-game sims, where the games play out and allow for coaching decisions to be made, produced scores that averaged 10 points less per game than sims that were completed from the Daily Schedule screen. For example, with the 2015 Golden State Warriors in a full season simmed from the outside, the team averaged 113 ppg. While simming from inside the games, they averaged 103 ppg. This was consistent across multiple teams and in both current day and Historical Replay.

The coach hiring phase proved problematic in basically every offseason. Advancement would be halted because my team or an AI-controlled team needed to hire a coach. However, I would find there to be no option on the screen to hire one and would not be in position to hire for another team. In some cases, I was able to get past that hurdle by going to the team's coaching screen, backing out, and then attempting to advance.

Additionally during the offseason, a message would be received about new GM jobs being open and using the phone to contact teams about them, but on the phone screen everything remained greyed out and no opportunity to join a sign with a team would come. 

While able to edit most team details, the ones for the arena (name and capacity) would not save. I was unable to determine if the in-game option to "work" or "yell" at the ref actually did anything. In-game settings didn't carry over, meaning game speed and options like stopping the sim at dead balls had to be changed before the start of every sim. Also needed is a visual representation of the playoffs in the form of a bracket and a screen to celebrate the eventual champion. 


The actual simulation engine seemed to produce very realistic player stats and did a good job with the records of some teams but not all as one might anticipate them to perform over the course of the season. In one sim, the Eastern Conference had no team over 52 wins. Most shockingly the Cavs (38-44) and Raptors (29-53) failed to make the playoffs there.

To its credit, the sim had the Warriors go 74-8, so it recognized the dominance there even in a tougher conference. They would go on to sweep the NBA Finals. Steph Curry won MVP and Karl-Anthony Towns took home ROY. Kevin Durant would leave for Philadelphia in the offseason and help lead them to the NBA Finals where they would fall to — you guessed it — the Warriors.

Even the AI had its own "process" in mind for the 76ers. While it may be one of fantasy that's what sim management games are all about.


Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2016 is available on PC through Wolverine Studios' official website for $34.95 . A download code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, has co-founded the new site HitThePass.com, hosts the Press Row Podcast, and be reached on Twitter @Pastapadre.