This blog contains everything you need to play the Value Add Basketball Game.
We added a couple of dozen teams, several from 2022 and 2023, and broke the teams into four lists because the file was opening and printing slowly for some people. Start by choosing two teams to play, click on the appropriate link below, and print the page number indicated for the team.
Click on the all-time great women's teams
(we are just starting to have enough stats to make women's cards based on the great work by basketball reference, and will keep adding more teams as they fill in stats.
Your teams will look something like this, 10 players to a team with the starters in the top row. The are the teams that won our first tournaments - John Wooden's 1972 UCLA team featuring Bill Walton and Pat Summitt's 1998 Tennessee team featuring Tamika Catchings.
The earliest team is Wyoming's 1943 squad, and near the end of the 2023 season we added several of the top teams from the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Players cards are calculated with great precision (see Sports Illustrated
article on the creator's basketball ratings) to recreate their performances adjusted for factors such as level of competition faced and to let all errors play a modern 70 possession game.
The UCLA team defeated Michael Jordan's UNC for our all-time title, then Tennessee ironically defeated the women's champs from the same season Jordan won the title, the Louisiana Tech champs. The UCLA team does appear to be the best of the 160 men's teams, but the 2016 UConn team appears to be the best women's teams - but your results will vary just as upsets occur in real games. It generally takes us 35-45 minutes to play a game, but it will take a bit longer to play your first few games as you get familiar with the flow of the game.
Two optional items that make the game play even easier are 10 dimes or pennies to use to mark which of a team's 10 players are in the game at any given moment, and four dice to use in place of the fast action cards provided in this blog.
4-step setup to play your first game
Setup step 1 of 4 - click this google doc
or this pdf
to open and print the improved cards for 128 all-time great college basketball teams. You can still use the original 98 teams if you printed them previously, but we believe you will find the new layout explained in this blog
easier to use.
In addition to larger font, these cards now include the suggestions on which possessions each player should be in the game to get the most possible minutes from your best players without them running out of stamina.
For example, when UCLA starts a game Kareem is the only starter who can play the whole game, so we circled below the suggested possessions (the game starts at Possession 44 and ends at Possession 1.
By the final 20 possessions of the game the entire top line of the five starters will play the duration of the game, but for the opening possessions Kareem is on the court with the four reserves that are circled.
If you chose to play that UCLA team against the UNC team, the starters have much better Stamina. Four of the starters can play all 44 possessions as indicated. Only Michael Jordan needs to skip one possession, so we circled reserve Jim Braddock to show him playing only one possession - Possession 44 - and then bring Jordan into play the rest - Possessions 43 to 1.
Setup step 2 of 4 - You can purchase 4 dice OR print the 4-colored Fast Action Cards
. If you print the cards, cut along the horizontal lines on each page to create 144 total cards, each of which will have a black and red section on one side, and blue and green on the other side. Further instructions for using the cards appear in this blog
. If you use the Fast Action Cards, one side will include a black and red section, with the back will include a blue and green section.
The sharpest images of the Fast Action Cards are here in dropbox
. Here is the front-and-back of one 4-sided card.
If you choose to use dice, you will need to buy an 8-sided die; two 6-sided dice of different colors to give a roll of 11-66; and a 20-sided die. You can also watch this video
. Click here
to review all dice rolls for an entire game.
If you use the fast action cards
then the top two lines on the first card you flip replaces the 8-sided die to see who gets the ball, and also replaces the 11-66 roll to see if the defense steals, blocks the shot, fouls, forces a turnover or allows a dunk, and the 8-sided die roll
If you want to print and cut out the fast action cards instead of using the dice, here is a quick video on the best way to shuffle.
Setup Step 3 of 4 - SCORE SHEETS. Click on the next image, click on it, then click to open in a new window. Set up to print LANDSCAPE. I've printed at hotels as well as home and it seems to work fine. You may need to hit a fit to page button or lower the percentage slightly if it prints on more than one page. You may have best luck clicking on this Google sheet to print the image below.
Setup Step 4 of 4 - REFERENCE CHART for RESULTS. Finally, print out the next two charts, which give the results of the 11-66 roll on each possession, which is spelled out a bit more on the fast action cards.
Quick start card - updated charts for reading dice rolls:
In addition to printing out the two teams you want to play from the Value Add Basketball Game instructions, you need to either buy four dice (20-sided, 8-sided and two traditional 6-sided of different colors for an 11-66 roll) OR print out these Fast Action Cards.
8-sided die determines which player gets the ball:
You can cut out the 10 cards to rotate players, but I just leave the 10 players on the sheet and put coins on the players in the game. In this case the 5 Michigan State starters (top row) are in the game, so on a roll of 1,2,3,4 or 5 you read straight across the cards from left to right with Magic Johnson (point guard far left) getting the ball on a "1" and Greg Kesler (far right) getting the ball on a "5."
The 6,7 and 8 rolls go to players with a 6,7 or 8 after their "get ball on" range under their name. For quick reference on who gets those, I put dimes on the players who get those rolls, so the first dime left to right gets it on a "6" (Magic on this sheet), the next dime gets it on the "7" (Vincent) and the third dime gets it on an "8" (Kesler).
A second option (instead of using coins) is to write out your line-up rotation like we did below for a game between the 2021 Baylor and 1967 UCLA teams.
On the 8-sided die, if the roll is a 1-5, then the ball goes to the player based on who is in that column. If the roll is 6, 7 or 8 then look for that number - only the players with an extra number on their actual card above can have an extra number, but as you see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has two extra numbers so actually gets the ball on a 5, 7 or 8.
Next check two dice 11-66 roll:
The 11-66 roll (determine which color 6-sided die is the 10s and which is the 1s before the game) determines if their is a steal (11-16 or 31 on defender's card), blocked shot (21-26 or 32 on defender's card), foul (33-36 on defender's card), turnover (41-46 on offensive player's card) or dunk/uncontested basket (51-66 based on dunk chart combination of offensive and defensive card).
Follow the chart below to see the result of the 11-66 roll.
20-sided die for shot or drawing foul
The 20-sided die is ignored if a steal, blocked shot, or turnover happen on the 11-66 roll above.
If a FOUL results from a 33-36 roll being in the defender's range, then refer to the 20-sided number on the offensive player's card to see if he also made a 3-pointer or 2-pointer and therefore gets one foul shot plus the basic, or was fouled on a 3-point shot and thus gets 3 shots, or on other results if he simply gets two free throws.
If a DUNK results from the 51-66 roll in a green range above, then the offensive player scores a 2-point basket UNLESS he chooses to take the result of the 20-sided card. This could either be because he made a 3-point shot on the 20-sided die or if he draws a foul on the 20-sided die and it results in the opposing defender fouling out.
If NOTHING results on the 11-66 roll then the result of the 20-sided die is the result of the page. In the case of Magic's card above he makes a 3-pointer on a "1," makes a 2-pointer on a 2 to 7, draws a foul to get two free throws on an 8 to 12, misses a 3-pointer on a 13 to 15, and misses a two pointer on a 16 to 20.
20-sided die for free throws
If at any point the player gets fouled then use the 20-sided die for his free throws.
Optional Advanced Rules Die Roll Adjustments
You can choose to use either or both of the following advanced rules before a game.
1. Home Court Advantage. A roll of 36 when the visiting team has the ball is changed to a 66 (meaning the ref missed a foul he should have called on the home team) or when the offense has the ball change a roll of 66 to a 36 (thus making a bad foul call against the visiting team unless the defender is very good at avoiding fouls). On average, this will help the home team about 3 points during the game.
2. Tired player. If a player plays more possessions in a game then his "Stamina" number then any time he has the ball or is defending the player with the ball, the other team can adjust both the 11-66 roll and 20-sided die roll one number in either direction for a better result (e.g. Magic's Stamina of 44 means he can play the whole game without running out of Stamina, but the other guard Mike Brkovich has a Stamina of 37 so if you played him all 44 possessions then the last 7 possessions of the game the opponent can adjust all rolls involving him by one). If a player plays DOUBLE his possessions then the other team can adjust the 20-sided or 11-66 roll by TWO in either direction (for example Draymond Green on another Michigan State team has a great card but low stamina because it was from his freshman year, so if you choose to play him the whole game then most of the game rolls would be moved two numbers against him).
Set Up to Play the Game
Once everything is printed up, put the visiting team on the left (Michael Jordan's 1982 UNC on the left).
The five players on the top row are recommended starters (though you choose to start other players). However, it is better to have the best players FINISH the game without running out of Stamina. For UNC, four of the five starters have a Stamina of at least 44, so they can be in the game for every possession. However, Michael Jordan's Stamina is 41, and we do not want him to be tired on the final three possessions of the game when he might be needed for a game-winner (in our All-Time March Madness he actually needed to score on the final possession in both the Round of 64 and Round of 32 to survive.
Therefore, we picked the best reserve (Chris Brust) to play the first three possessions (the 44th, 43rd and 42nd on the score sheet) so that once Jordan comes into the game (41st possession) he will be operating at full strength all the way to the final (1) possession of the game. (We do NOT treat players as tired in overtime since all players are tired.)
To show which player is in the game we put a coin on the five players on the court at any given time.
Every time UNC gets the ball or gets an offensive rebound, all 4 dice are rolled and the 8-sided die determines who gets the ball. If the roll is a "1" it goes to the first player to the left with a coin of any kind (Black). A "2" goes to the next player to the right with a coin (Doherty), a "3" to the next player to the right with a coin (Worthy), the "4" to the next player to the right, which we consider Brust even though he is directly below Worthy so actually just as far right, and a "5" goes to the furthest player to the right, the Center Perkins.
Only players with a dime (2 numbers on the "Gets Ball on" line) can get the ball on a roll of 6, 7 or 8.
On a "6" we still go left to right, but looking for the first DIME, which is Worthy. A "7" goes to the next dime which is Brust, and an "8" goes to the final dime which is Perkins.
You can choose to change the order or possessions before you start rolling. For example, when Jordan comes in after three possessions we chose to make him the Shooting Guard, or in the "2" spot, and move Doherty to the "3" spot, so Jordan actually got the ball on a 2 or 6, and Doherty got the ball on a 3, instead of a 2 like when Brust was in for the first three possessions.
Here is UNC's coin alignment after Jordan comes into the game.
The UCLA starters all feature a Stamina of 37, so we actually start the game with all reserves on the court for the first seven possessions.
Therefore at the start of the game a roll of 1 goes to Hill, 2 to Chapman, 3 to Curtis, 4 to Hollyfield and 5 to Nater.
Since only Hollyfield and Nater have a dime for having more than one "Get Ball on" numbers, a "6" goes to Hollyfield and a "7" goes to Nater,but an "8" goes to no one.
The only exception is if the 11-66 roll is in UCLA's dunk range, in this game a 51-53, in which case UCLA chooses the player to dunk for two points.
If the ball does not go to anyone on an "8" (or occasionally for a team that does not have dimes for a "6" or "7" roll) then the team has one more chance to get the ball to someone before the shot clock runs out.
Roll all four dice again, and a 1-5 still goes to the same player as on a first roll. However, on the second roll dimes are ignored so a 6-8 is always a turnover on a shot clock violation.
After seven possessions, all five UCLA starters enter the game, for this line-up.
Notice when the UCLA starters enter the games, the three players have pennies because they only have one "Get Ball on" number. All-American Henry Bibby has the first time - 2(SG) or 6 - so gets the roll on a roll of 6. However, notice that Bill Walton gets the ball so much - 5(C)7 or 8 - that two dimes are placed on his card to indicate he gets the ball not only on a roll of 5, but also 7 or 8.
Once we decisions are made on who will play when, we write in the names on the score sheet, which you must use to keep track of time and for the rebound chart to determine who gets rebounds after a missed shot on shaded possessions. Note that because we are starting the game with a 20-20 tie and 22 possessions already being "played," players each start with two points, one foul, at least one rebound and depending on position some other states.
Optional Pace Rule to start at score other than 20-20 for game between faster or slower paced teams: While starting the game 20-20 with 44-53 possessions left to play is normally realistic, certain teams play at a much faster or slower pace. This optional rule allows you to change the starting score, and in turn change the distribution of points by player at the outset of the game from the normal 2 points per game per player to equal that total.
Step 1 determine each team's pace - Determine the pace for each team. For teams since 2002, you can go to www.kenpom.com or another site to see the pace (number of possessions per game) for each team. For example the two fastest pace teams in the 2021 tournament were Gonzaga (round to 74 possessions) and Alabama (73), while the two slowest pace teams were Virginia (62) and Mount St. Mary's (60). For teams from before 2002 or if you don't have the pace, average their points scored per game and points allow per game - so the highest estimated pace in history would be the 1990 Loyola Marymount team which average winning 122-108 - average those two together and their estimated pace is 115 as the average of 122 and 108.
Step 2 adjust if either team's pace is lower than 65 or higher than 70. If both team's pace is between 65-70, then the score starts at the normal 20-20 score. However, for each team that is higher than 71 add a point to the starting score, add a point to the starting score. If Gonzaga (74) played Alabama (73) then you would +4 for Gonzaga's pace and +3 for Alabama's pace to make the starting score 27-27 instead of 20-20. If UVa (62) and Mount St. Mary's (60) played then you would subtract -3 for UVa (3 lower than 65) and -5 for Mount St. Mary's for a total of -8 and therefore start the game 12-12 instead of 20-20. If a team with an average pace of 65-70 (no adjustment) played 1990 Loyola Marymount (115 from previous paragraph) then the other team would be a +0 and Loyola would be +45 (45 higher than 70) and the score of the game would start at 65-65 instead of 20-20.
However, if fewer than 10 players will play in the game, then the extra points and rebounds must be distributed among players who will play so that each team starts with 20 points and 13 rebounds. In this case, we give Jordan, Daherty, Worthy and Perkins each two extra points and one extra rebound before our first dice roll.
Finally, using the Dunk Range chart that was printed at the beginning, the UNC offense and UCLA defense combine on the chart for a RED 51-53, so we write on the top "UNC 1982 (51-53 Stop)" to indicate that any time UNC has the ball and a 51-53 is rolled on the two 6-sided dice, they miss a shot and the defensive player is credited with a rebound. When we cross reference UCLA's offense and UNC's defense we get the mirror image, a GREEN 51-53. This means any time UCLA has the ball and a 51-53 is rolled, the UCLA player with the ball dunks to score 2 points.
Once the score sheet is filled in, the dice and sheets printed above an be laid out however, you want, but this is the layout that works best for me.
Rolling the Dice to Start the Game
You roll all 4 dice on every possession and attempt to shoot again after an offensive rebound. The only times you roll fewer are for a free throw (only 20-sided die) or on shaded possessions on the Score sheets when you roll the 20-sided dies and one of the 6-side die to see who gets the rebound on the rebound chart in the bottom right of the Score sheet (the defense always gets the rebound on the possessions that are not shaded.
In addition to these instructions, you can click on the detailed instructions or click here for both this blog and the detailed blog combined into one google doc with page numbers.
following would be the results of some sample dice rolls in a UCLA vs. UNC game using the cards at the top of the blog, and showing what the dice roll was and then what would be written on the bottom part of the score sheet in addition to recording how many points, rebounds, steals, blocks and fouls by each player:
One note on the last entry, it refers to the dunk range being 51-54, but it actually is 51-53 as noted above.
The results are recorded in this manner from the 44th to the 10th possession - the first 3 columns.
The Last 9 Possessions
Note that the final 9 possessions have a diagonal line through each possession for each team.
Normally you only use the top left section of each possession.
However, in the following scenarios, you will also use the bottom right section for an extra possession:
EXTRA POSSESSIONS. If either team is fouled during the possession, then both teams get an extra possession so use the bottom section below the diagonal for both teams.
1. TRY FOR STEAL, OR FOUL INTENTIONALLY. The team that is losing can choose to go for the "turnover or intentional foul" to get the extra possession. If this option is used, then do not roll the 20-sided die. If the result of the 11-66 roll is a turnover or a steal, then use that result, but if not then the result is a foul and two shots. In any case, an extra possession is created. Note this is the only time that a turnover (that is not a steal) creates an extra possession. Keep in mind this should only be used on the top portion of the last nine possessions - never use it during the roll for the bottom half possessions since that does not create and extra possession.
2. STEALS AND FAST BREAKS. If either of the two guards steals the ball during a possession, or if either forward steals the ball on an odd roll (11, 13, 15 or 31) then the team has the option of running a fast break. The advantage of a fast break is that the 20-sided die roll is lowered by one. As indicated on the chart, when a fast break is run the player making the steal has the ball on a 6, 7 or 8 as indicated on the right side of the chart. If either team chooses a fast break then use the bottom possession (below the diagonal) for both teams.
Normally a fast break should be used because it gives the team a 5% better chance at making a 3-pointer and a 5% better chance at scoring on the 20-sided dice. The two times a team could choose NOT to use a fast break when they have a chance is a) a team that is ahead may choose not to run a fast break so that the extra possession is not used, and b) if a weak offensive player makes the steal they may choose not to use the fast break since 50% of the time (4 of 8 rolls) the player who makes the steal will be the one to try to score. If a the team stealing the ball chooses not to run a fast break, then simply roll the dice with a new possession.
3. TRY TO SCORE AFTER OFFENSIVE POSSESSION. The other time a team gets a chance to lower the roll on the 20-sided die by 1 is after getting an offensive rebound. If that happens, the player getting the offensive rebound attempts to score on a 6-8 roll in addition to his one other number, as indicated on the right side of the dice chart. The 20-sided die is lowered by one, however, if the player getting the offensive rebound gets a result of "made 3-point shot" then it is changed to "made 2-point shot" since he is already near the rim when grabbing the offensive rebound.
As is the case with the option to run a fast break, a team will usually try to score on an offensive rebound because of the 5% better chance of scoring, and because a team that gets the offensive rebound and chooses to run the offense rolls a 6, 7 or 8 that results in no player getting the ball, then a turnover is recorded (teams only get a 20-second shot clock after an offensive rebound). However, in two cases a team may choose to instead run their usual offense for one of two reasons; a) the player getting the offensive rebound is not a good offensive player and they would rather give other players a better chance to take the shot, or b) the team is behind late and needs a 3-point shot and would rather run the regular offense so the player getting the offensive rebound can make a 3-pointer if eh gets the shot.
Because any, all or none of the last 9 possessions could create an extra possession, a game could be considered to have as many as 75 possessions (or as few as 66 possessions, though either title includes the 22 possessions we do not really play out that results in the 20-20 game start).
TRYING FOR 3-POINTER. Another strategy option that can be used by a team desperate for a 3-pointer in the final few possessions, is to try for a 3-pointer. If this is called, then every player on their team can add a 3-point made number for every 2-point made number that is turned into a missed shot with the rebound going to the defense - but no player can more than DOUBLE their range.
For example, if UNC was down three points in their final possession they could call for trying for a 3-pointer. If the ball then went to Jordan, he could make a 3-point shot on a 1-4 instead of his normal 1-2 (doubling his range). However, because he added two 3-point numbers, the highest 2 numbers on his made 2-point shot must be changed to missed 3-point shot and defensive rebound, so a 8 or 9 would be missed with UCLA grabbing the rebound. Note that the range cannot be more than doubled, so even if UCLA tried for a 3-pointer, if the ball went to Bill Walton he cannot make a 3-pointer because he has none on his card. If you had to have a 3-pointer on the final trip, UCLA might put in Larry Hollyfield for the final possession so that if the ball went to the center he would be able to make a game-tying shot on a 1-4 instead of it going to Walton where he could only score 2.
Finally, a team might choose to try to avoid fouling to not stop the clock (if they are ahead) or if a player already has four fouls. If this strategy is chosen and the player is on defense, then any roll of 32-36 becomes a score for the player he is guarding unless a teammate blocks a shot on a 32. Please note that a player still might commit a 5th foul if the player he is guarding draws a foul on his card.
At the end of the last possession, the game is over unless the score is tied.
If the score is tied, the game goes to overtime, and 9 more possessions are played using the same rules as the last nine possessions or regulation. You may want to write them off to the right of those possessions.
End of Instructions - The following is some additional information and links to advanced rules.
Rule adjustments that were made after playing games and identifying minor problems.
The player getting an offensive rebound or stealing the ball with a chance for a potential fast break originally was able to try to score directly on the 20s-sided die without rolling the other dice. This proved a big distortion, and was chanced to the player has a 50-50 chance of getting the shot and it can still be stolen or his shot blocked with just the one die number adjustment.
Originally all turnovers on rolls of 41-46 were the same. However, now if a turnover occurs on a roll of 43 or 46, it is also an offensive foul. This study shows that (not counting steals) a total of 28.7% of all other turnovers were the result of an offensive foul, and this adjustment reflects that frequency for most players.
All of player cards can now be printed at once, one team to a page, by clicking here. We are leaving the following links to old cards in case you prefer the bigger cards, however all of the cards in all of these links are now in the one link.
click here for
the 100 teams of 2020 that were projected to make the NIT or NCAA tournament -
these are in visual files 3 pages to a team, and you can first look at the list
on the link to see which 3 pages print out which teams (12 cards to a team).
Note that while we included only the five
starters for UNC and UCLA in the instructions, the player cards above include
The information above includes everything you
need to play basic games, the following is additional detail with a Table of
Contents to show you where to find information or clarify any part of the game
you find confusing.
Starting to play the Value Add Basketball Game
In VABG, each player card is carefully calibrated to measure his ability to
score, draw fouls, rebound, avoid turnovers and committing fouls, block shots, and
steal the ball. This yields a player card that provides accurate chances to be
successful in each of these areas against a standard level of competition (e.g.
a player with the exact same stats playing against high-level defenses will
have a card that accurately reflects how much better he would be than a player
who put together the exact same stats facing much weaker defenses.)
We have played off an entire tournament of the
96 all-time great teams from the 1940s through UVa’s 2019 champions and the
2020 tournament that was canceled in real life. Results and updates are posted
and these games were used to find and adjust any inaccuracies or items that
made the game more difficult to play.
The Addenda referenced in these instructions
appear at https://tinyurl.com/rn8r5nd,
but due to perfecting the game with various updates since the introduction in
February 2019 we were asked to produce a clean copy in PDF form with
The following is the table of contents to find
any aspect of the game that does not make sense or simply to clarify a result
that may be confusing in the Addenda.
Simply click here to access the entire google doc including all of the topics outlined below or click here for the blog with the detailed instructions for everything in the Table of Contents.
To access all items in the Table of Contents listed above, you can click on the detailed instructions that are one of three options for following the directions to play the Value Add Basketball Game. The most popular instructions are these Quick Start instructions used by more than 30,000 as of April 2020 are the blog you now have open as you read this. If you use google docs, you can click here to access the combined instructions that contain both the Quick Start instructions you are reading now and the detailed instructions from the link above. That last option is a google doc which makes it much easier to find specific items because the pages are numbered to correspond with the numbers on the Table of Contents below, however because some people do not use google docs we provide the other two options in these blogs.