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NBA 2K22 tips: 7 things to know before you play

NBA 2K22
(Image credit: 2K)

NBA 2K22 tips are a necessity if you’re going to juggle its myriad facets: this is a sports sim, RPG, MMO and – depending on who you ask – predatory microtransaction hoover, all rolled into one. MyCareer offers the most satisfying and in-depth build-a-superstar mode in the genre, and the online modes are both seamlessly integrated and competitive enough to get you all obsessed over the precise wingspan for your slasher PG build. And NBA 2K22 takes full advantage of next-gen features. (Unless you’re playing on PC. I know. Let the pantomime booing commence - that really isn’t on, 2K.)

For those playing on Sony and Microsoft’s latest hardware, there’s a raft of new stuff waiting to be picked over, exploited, mastered, marvelled at and grinded. Let’s examine the highlights, in your NBA 2K22 tips rundown.

1. Memorise the new offensive animations

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

Doesn’t sound all that sexy, does it? In truth though, it’s the quality of its performance capture and on-the-court movement that first set NBA 2K apart from EA’s once-dominant NBA Live, and keeps the basketball feeling so right even as the VC payments get cheekier every passing year.

On offence, you’ve got new signature moves from the league’s elite to break ankles with, and new dribble combos. Which means all that muscle memory waggling the right stick around needs updating, immediately.

Dunking in traffic, alley-oops, and jump-shots have all had a revamp and are more skill-based. That’s most obvious when it comes to dunking. We’ve all watched our 75 OVR get stripped on the way to the glass time and time again, then spent some upgrades points on dunking, performed the exact same action, and enjoyed them bouncing defenders away like sinewy wrecking balls. There’s less inclination to do that this year, given improved shooting animations.

2. Revamped defensive controls = game-changer

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

The greatest testament to NBA 2K’s qualities is that it’s long been just as gratifying to log a few blocks or pull down 10 rebounds in a game than it has to score 30 points. Defense isn’t easy to convey in videogame basketball: it’s all elbows and shuffling and throwing distracting arms around, but the control modifiers have always given you enough to master a truly deep skill.

And this year you’re mastering it anew, because the defensive animation vault has been updated, and shot contest and block controls are reworked. It’s still about timing, frame-reading and concentration, but the player movements are that bit closer to reality, and the litheness of the athletes better conveyed with the pad. Good stuff.

3. MyCareer is The Sims now, by the way

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

A small and ardent bunch of us have been dreaming of this for years now: you can purchase and customise a crib - or ‘property’ as they’re otherwise known during your predictably meteoric rise from young nobody to NBA superstar. Player homes have been on the periphery of the experience for several games now (remember that secret unlockable Jordan court in 2K17?) but this time you get to decorate it as though Architectural Digest is on its way over.

Plus there’s a chance to get involved in some business ventures. Again, the franchise has dabbled with this before but the opportunities for entrepreneurial muscle flexing have been infrequent and fleeting. This time you’re getting properly stuck in. It’s all very Sims 4.

4. Rethink your timings

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

Since both offensive and defensive controls have been reworked, and new animations abound for everything from jumpers to shot contests, the whole pace of play is different this year. And these being games we tend to pour hundreds of hours (and $$$s amirite?) into annually, we get into the same old habits.

Building a bigman for MyCareer? You’re going to want to spend a few exhibition games just focusing on blocking, working out how quickly players wriggle out of a boxout, what they can reach, and what they can’t. Previously blocking had a few ‘snap-to’ animations locked to stats and badges, so your muscle memory associated with that won’t work here. Same goes for that lights-out three shooter PG you’re designing, and every other archetype.

5. Get your backroom right in MyNBA/MyWNBA

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

Franchise mode, MyGM, however you want to spell it - these dynasty-building longform adventures never really clicked before in the series. Compared to MyCareer’s exhaustive simulation of all aspects of a player’s life, the menus and stats felt a bit uninspired.

2K22’s MyNBA/MyWNBA course-corrects that through changes to backroom staff management. Get your offices stacked with Jonah Hills and Brad Pitts, the thinking goes, and you can data analysis your way to a dynasty. The menus take some adjustment time at first, but ultimately are just as critical in the long run as your initial on-court results.

6. PGs and playmakers look good in this year’s meta

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

This is all subject to change, of course. But so far prominent NBA 2K players have been gravitating towards playmaking point guard builds. That’s partly down to the speed of games - smaller, lighter players can just tear by defenders if their stats are laid out thoughtfully. Plus, the spot-up precision and ankle-breaking shots takeovers look strong so far, boosting stationary jump shot accuracy and dribble/spin move effectiveness respectively.

Bigman builds are about what you’d expect: lots of height, slim down the weight to boost speed, massive wingspan for blocks and contests. While we haven’t seen one dominant build type emerge yet - Visual Concepts are working constantly to balance the meta - the scarcity of mid-sized point-forward archetypes in the days since launch suggests online matches will see a lot of PG-heavy play. Plan accordingly. Either you want to be one of those guards, or you want to build a goliath to swat them out of the paint.

7. Ratings are already changing

NBA 2K22

(Image credit: 2K)

Before release Visual Concepts announced Seattle Storm power forward Breanna Stewart as the best female player in the game – yet when NBA 2K22 landed in stores both real and digital, Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne had pipped her to the honour. It’s a fitting reminder of one of the series’ best features: live rosters that update weekly based on real-life player form and – gulp – injury.

As a result, it’s worth keeping tabs on your favourite players’ magic numbers throughout the season. Default ratings can be analysed via GR’s NBA 2K22 ratings guide. Or, if you need to keep track on a weekly basis, check out the official 2K Ratings database, where you can click on any player to view both their current rating, and a chart tracking their progress across the entire campaign. That’s got to be worth a little hoopla. Especially if your name is Elena Delle Donne.

Phil Iwaniuk

Writer for Edge Magazine.