In Part 1, I focused on how to find the right superstars and role players in NBA 2K to make the biggest threat on paper. In this section, I’ll demonstrate how to put those players to use and what offensive and defensive techniques are most effective.
How to play offense
Pace is key, especially if you’re playing against the CPU or a less experienced player.
The CPU likes to try to slow the game down and run out of actual sets, so by pushing the pace, you can take them out of their rhythm.
You can push the pace by putting a taller wing player at power forward, which sacrifices defense and rebounding but will help you on offense and make you play faster. Understand this is a strategy that can backfire if you’re playing a big team like the Spurs, and you might not be able to grab a defensive rebound whatsoever.
You don’t need to play small to play fast. After every basket, pass the ball close to the mid-court line, and preferably with your best player, try to cut the corner past the defender. This should always be your primary offensive attack.
Also, remember how I said to stock your team with shooters? This is where it’s important. Your first offensive objective should always be a transition basket, but if that fails, see if you can beat your defender with your superstar. If that still doesn’t work, find a shooter. Especially if you’re starting to draw double teams, someone is destined to be open.
That doesn’t mean you should shoot it no matter what — the game doesn’t like contested or deep threes, so stick to line-hugging, open three-pointers and it should work. Only take set, spot-up threes and use pump fakes frequently to break down the defense.
Also, the pick-and-roll game is a technique that’s easy, simple and especially effective if you’re playing with a guy like Dwight Howard. Unless you’re playing with an elite big man, the post should be your last option on offense as it slows the game down.
How to play defense
Defense is an overlooked but important aspect of 2K. There’s times where defense can feel insufferable, especially on the Hall of Fame difficulty level, but trust me, there’s ways around it.
You’ll need to tinker with your defense before the game even starts, as petty as that may feel.
Play tight on ball and deny off ball for point guards through small forwards. This will make your CPU wings understand they need to stay in front of their men and stay attached to them, leading to less open shooters and less stupid help mistakes that the CPU is destined to make. You shouldn’t have to adjust your big men, as they’ll need to come off their men anyways to provide plenty of help defense.
I like to manually defend the ball on defense, making sure to pressure the ball as hard as possible, especially at point guard. Stay tight on the opposing point guard, as you can take charges if they run too close to the sideline.
If they break past you, your big men should be in position and you can switch to them to try to swat anything and everything. People often make the mistake of trying to reach for a steal all the time on defense — be patient, body up your man and play the passing lanes and you’ll create plenty of turnovers without giving up position.
You shouldn’t have to switch your matchups too often, but if a player is killing you or you’re playing a beast like LeBron, try to tinker with your lineup, putting your best defender on the player or by switching between small and big lineups.
How to have fun
Even though I listed a specific way of conquering NBA 2K, this is meant to be used as a reference, not as a bible. Don’t feel pressured to stick to it by any means.
Some of the best moments in 2K are the ones you come up with flying by the seat of your pants and the moments you never saw coming — think of the time you posterized your buddy with Steve Novak or hit the game-winning three with Joakim Noah — spontaneity, and the pure and utter absurd are what makes video games, heck — make basketball awesome.
The reason why 2K has grown into the phenomenon it is today is because it’s a complex game that is simple at its core. No one should play 2K any one way — switch it up, try different teams and different techniques, and try to master all styles of basketball.
But really, above all, don’t take it too seriously — just have fun.