NBA 2K20 tips: 7 essential things to know before you play

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Whether you're an experienced baller or fresh on the court, having a set of NBA 2K20 tips to hand is always useful to keep track of the latest developments, especially as we now have a new story mode with none other than Idris Elba calling the shots. There's also various other improvements and gameplay tweaks to bear in mind, and a revamped MyPlayer mode to get to grips with before you line up and get ready to tip off.

It’s a huge game whose many modes can be overwhelming, which is where our NBA 2K20 tips rundown comes into play. Need to know how to get the most out of MyPlayer, succeed in MyGM, and/or put in a strong performance where it counts? Then let us steer you through it all. These are the seven essential NBA 2K20 tips to know before you play.

1. Master your Playbook

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Let’s tip things off where it matters most: gameplay. The AI in NBA 2K20 has been improved substantially, in terms of both opposition decision-making and your own team’s abilities to work around you. Whether you’re heading into the clutch or simply trying to get an early lead, utilising the Playbook is vital in getting team-mates to follow your commands, both on defence and offence.

You can toy around with each team’s various plays in the menus, and initiate them on court by pressing L1/LB. Players are particularly aware this year with regard to individual positioning, so don’t be afraid to use the Playbook to get the AI to run an important offensive or defensive play.

2. Use sprint sparingly

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It can be tempting to charge back and forth down the court, whether you’re trying to go on the fast break or get back in front of the player you’re trying to mark. However, constant sprinting affects your man for the entirety of the game, so use the button too much in the first two quarters and you suffer for it in the crucial final moments.

Getting back to defend doesn’t need you to sprint unless the opposition goes on a speedy counter. Take your time and keep an eye on your marker so you know where to head. When attacking the rim, be patient when executing a set play, or pass the ball around to look for an opening. Essentially, strategise without increasing your player’s fatigue.

3. Stick to a man while defending

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A familiar habit whilst playing NBA 2K20 is switching to the teammate closest to the opposing player who’s handling the ball, but the improved AI allows you to trust your team and lets you focus on the player you’re marking. Using L2/LT to keep close forces him to remain in a corner of your half court, or draws him out of position – often breaking up an opponent’s approach in the process.

When faced with the ball handler, L2/LT applies pressure. If they’re outside the D, don’t get too close or they’ll drive past you if there’s a screen in play. Certain dribblers require less attention, but if you’re facing a Kyrie Irving, pay close attention to the arrow underneath him. Moving in the direction he’s leaning prevents a break towards the rim, usually forcing a pass.

4. Make use of Evolution Cards

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One of the best additions to MyTeam is the Evolution Card. At the start of MyTeam, you’re given a choice of five Evolution Cards: Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Rose, and Hakeem Olajuwon. By completing certain challenges you can evolve your card of choice and improve its overall rating and badges.

Consider your general on-court approach before committing to your Evolution card, as there’s no option for a do-over. If you need a leader around the hoop, Olajuwon’s dunking ability is priceless, whereas Vince Carter’s leadership and experience can be beneficial for newer players.

5. Use Action Points in MyGM wisely

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2K has introduced Action Points into MyGM: these help challenge you when making decisions day in, day out, limiting where you decide to focus. When you embark on a new franchise, you’re given the choice of picking a level of difficulty, and the easier the mode, the more AP you’re given.

It can be stressful knowing exactly where to use them but talking to your players helps to build their trust. A simple chit-chat with your starting Point Guard can give them the boost they need, and a meeting with your boss often leads to some priceless advice. Your assistant manager will also provide you with tasks he deems more important, so keep an eye on these if you’re still not sure.

6. MyPlayer requires experimentation

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MyPlayer in NBA 2K20 changes how you build the foundation of your baller, with new pie charts that highlight different ranges of statistics. These ultimately define the types of badges you’re able to acquire. Not only that, but certain combinations limit the attributes you can upgrade.

It’s imperative that your devote some time to playing around with different variations, and accept you won’t be able to be great at everything. Some combinations make you a decent shooter and playmaker, but means sacrificing defensive categories. Whether you’re trying to emulate an NBA superstar or suit your own play style, experimenting with the new system before finalising your fictional player is a must.

7. Be a MyCareer all-rounder

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Feeling the need to concentrate on a specific shot or statistic isn’t especially important when it comes to levelling up your player in NBA 2K20. Instead, making sure you’re an all-rounder awards access to more options for building your repertoire.

For instance, taking shots and creating chances/getting assists from all over the D improves your grade and gives XP to Finishing, Shooting, and Playmaking: there’s simply no need to be a one-trick pony. And the mode fast becomes grind heavy if you choose to focus solely on one particular skill.

Prefer your American sports to be oval-shaped? Then power over to our Madden 20 tips, which again charts 7 key things to know before you play.

Freelance Writer

Chris is a freelance journalist, photographer, and charity consultant. He specialises in sports, both in real-life and in the gaming space. He's written for publications including GamesRadar, The Sun, Daily Mail, The Times, The Mirror, and more.