Basketball GM is a single-player basketball management simulation game. Set your roster, make trades, draft prospects, manage your finances, and try to build a dynasty. Play it in your browser now, completely 100% free!
Basketball GM has long supported customizing the names and countries of randomly generated players, which is useful for people making custom league files. For instance, if you want to simulate a league in France, it makes sense to mostly generate French players.
The problem with this feature was that it kind of sucked. The file format was confusing and required a lot of repetitive work. Basically it was designed to make my life easy, rather than making it easy to use. That’s the opposite of how I normally try to operate.
Today I have finally rectified the situation. There is a new format for customizing randomly-generated player names and countries. Don’t worry, all your old league files will continue to work like normal. But in the future you’ll be able to use the new format, which is both easier and more powerful. Here is the documentation.
Previously, player names in Basketball GM were generated based on a list of name frequencies in the US in 1990 published by the US Census Bureau. In some ways this was awesome - it was a huge list of names, so there was a lot of variety. However the US population in 1990 does not exactly correspond to global basketball talent. There should be more African American names and there should be international names from basketball-loving countries.
I never fixed this problem because there wasn't any data I could find that was nearly as good as the census data I used previously. But now I think I have a better solution: DraftExpress. DraftExpress is a website about the NBA draft. It has player profiles for basically every NBA prospect in recent history, even fringe guys like minor college players and roleplayers in overseas leagues. That's a pretty good sample of the distribution of basketball talent, right? Maybe not perfect, but probably good enough to be better than the previous names list.
So I used my trusty wget to scrape draftexpress.com, and then I wrote a script to parse names and countries for all players in their database. After a little work to clean up the data (splitting names into first and last names while handling extra spaces like Nando De Colo; fixing typos in country names), I filtered the list of countries to get rid of those with less than 5 names because they would just become too repetitive. So sorry Suriname, you and your 2 names are gone. That left me with 28,377 names from 85 countries. To generate a player, the game randomly picks a country and then randomly picks first and last names from that country.
Particularly cool things about the new names:
This is live now, even in existing leagues new draft prospects will be generated with this new naming method. And you can see the countries of all the players in your league by going to the Player Ratings page.
By default, Basketball GM uses random American names taken from the US Census. However if you’re making a custom league file designed to represent a basketball league in another country, it is annoying when the new players generated in your league all have names like "John Smith".
Now, when creating a League File, you have the ability to define the list of names used for randomly generated players. For more info, check out the documentation.