NBA 2K23 guide and everything we know so far

NBA 2K23 screenshot
(Image credit: 2K)

NBA 2K23 is always a hot topic in October, given that it's the month when US pro basketball tips off another season. NBA 2K23 has been out since September 9, so many are playing it already – but what about those holding out until the new campaign gets underway? Well, everything you guys and girls need is below. Watch the trailer, brush up on ratings and run your eyes over this year's feature-set using GR's NBA 2K23 guide. 

When will we see the first NBA 2K23 trailer?

It landed in early July – kind of. 2K released a mini-trailer to confirm Michael Jordan as one of the game's four cover stars. You can watch it above.

As for the first gameplay footage, this emerged a couple of weeks later – but fret not, we have that right here for you too. Hit the button below to watch and enjoy.

Can we pinpoint the NBA 2K23 release date yet?

NBA 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Most certainly. One of the upsides to annual sports titles is that their publishers like to stick to a specific release window. For instance, NBA 2K20 dropped on September 6, 2019. NBA 2K21 landed on September 4, 2020. [On PS4 and Xbox One, anyway – the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions had to wait until the November launch of those consoles.] NBA 2K22, meanwhile, shipped on September 10, 2021. All of these dates are Fridays, and they all fall within the first fortnight of September.

Taking those past dates into account, we therefore predicted that the NBA 2K23 release date would fall during the first fortnight in September. We were right: NBA 2K23 landed on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on Friday, September 9.

Were there NBA 2K23 pre-order rewards?

NBA 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Inevitably, yes. In addition to confirming the release date of Friday, September 9, Visual Concepts unveiled five different versions of NBA 2K23. You can compare them all at the official 2K Sports website. The good news is that whichever you went for, these goodies are also thrown in:

  • 5,000 Virtual Currency
  • 5,000 MyTEAM Points
  • 10 MyTEAM Promo Packs (delivered one a week)
  • A Boost for each MyCAREER Skill type
  • A Boost for each Gatorade Boost type
  • Devin Booker MyPLAYER Jersey
  • 95 Rated Devin Booker MyTEAM Free Agent Card

Who is the NBA 2K23 cover star?

NBA 2K23

(Image credit: 2K Games)

The 2K series box athlete doesn’t receive as much hype as the Madden 23 cover star, but it’s still a hugely privileged gig. As a rule, more than one player usually scores the honor. For NBA 2K21, Zion Willamson (Pelicans) and Damien Lillard (Trail Blazers) fronted the current-gen and lest-gen versions respectively, while a Mamba Forever edition was produced in honor of Kobe Bryant, after the hoops icon was killed in a helicopter crash. Last year, Luca Doncic (Mavericks) and Candace Parker (Sky) shared the spoils. Parker was the first-ever female player to appear on the box.

There are four cover stars this year. Basketball legend Michael Jordan fronts the Michael Jordan Edition (well, duh) and Championship Edition. Female legends Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird are on the box of the Gamestop-exclusive WNBA Edition. And contemporary favourite Devin Booker gets the gig on the Standard Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition.

Who's on top of the NBA 2K23 ratings list?

NBA 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Fascinatingly, American betting company BetUS opened a specific market predicting NBA 2K23 player ratings at the back end of 2021. Customers could bet whether an individual player would end up with higher or lower overall scores than those suggested by BetUS. There’s no hint that they had an inside information - indeed, that would be illegal - but here’s who they predicted to be the top ten players in NBA 2K23:

  • Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets) - 97
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) - 97
  • LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) - 96
  • Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) - 96
  • Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers) - 96
  • Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) - 96
  • Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) - 96
  • James Harden (Philadelphia 76ers) - 96
  • Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) - 96
  • Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) - 94

Were they correct? In some cases, yes! The only incorrect name in their top ten was Damian Lillard, who was pipped from the elite list by Ja Morant. Visual Concepts unleashed the NBA 2K23 player ratings database in August, and these were the top ten players ahead of its September launch:

  • 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) - 97
  • 2. LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) - 96
  • 3. Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets) - 96
  • 4. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) - 96
  • 5. Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) - 96
  • 6. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) - 96
  • 7. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) - 95
  • 8. Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers) - 95
  • 9. Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzles) - 93
  • 10. James Harden (Philadelphia 76ers) - 92

For a full look at the best players position-by-position, slam dunk on over to GR's NBA 2K23 ratings guide. 

What new NBA 2K23 features are there?

NBA 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Two points of focus were prioritised by Visual Concepts for NBA 2K23. The first is a selection of AI improvements and reworked controls – so every player build feels more realistic. The second is more accessibility across the game. 

"2K basketball," says gameplay director Mike Wang, "has never really deviated from one simple fact: that you can play the game knowing two buttons. That hasn't changed for as long as I've been at the company, and that's a long time."

In specific terms, this results in a reworked shot feedback indicator, that only shows you how good your shot timing was after the ball goes in or misses the hoop. Team takeover feels less arcade-y, while jump shot animations have also gone under the microscope in order to feel much more cosmetically pleasing.

For a deep dive into all the new NBA 2K23 features, jump over to our detailed NBA 2K23 preview.

What was on the NBA 2K23 wishlist?

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(Image credit: 2K)

The NBA 2K forum on Reddit is a treasure trove of credible ideas to improve the series. Handily, its moderators collate the best ones and then submit them to publisher 2K for consideration in the game. Back in the summer, ahead of the NBA 2K23 announcement, we compiled the best ones.

Fans were generally happy with the modes on offer, but would like to see gameplay tweaks as the series finds its find on PS5 and Xbox Series X. “Slow the game down a little and make players’ speed realistic. David Robinson was never faster than John Wall,” wrote JimboCruntz. “Fix blocks. There are too many from chase downs and not enough from poor offensive choices. Also, fix rebounding. NBA players tend to react when the ball is heading towards them.”

“Remove speed boosts,” he continued. “If players want to be dribble gods they should learn how to dribble, not hunt for random super speed animations. [Also] watch an NBA game. Players don't miss because Kawhi randomly stands near them – he actually has to play defense to defend. As for shooting, the green zone should be larger or smaller AND move depending on the contest.”

Indeed, improved shooting was a common theme when it came to tweaking the on-court action. “Open shots vs contested shots need to be balanced a bit more,” wrote EarvGotti. “Currently open shots go in at an insanely high rate which is fine. But if that is going to be the case, contested shots need to have more of a penalty. Currently, guys are running Base 3, Set Shot 25, Base 98 and these jumpshots are super fast. Contests don't register properly on bases like those. Shot contests need to be stronger in order to correctly penalize taking bad shots vs taking good shots. If you guys do one last patch for NBA 2K22, please please please include a buff to shot contests on the perimeter and directly under the rim.”

Over on Operation Sports, there was a push to see extra focus given to retro favorites. “I know this isn't a huge priority, but please show more love to the historics!” pleaded KobeDropped81. “Please re-create the top three or four players on every classic team. Pay someone from the modding community if you have to. The work that was done to Kobe [Bryant] and Dirk [Nowitzki] over the last two years is phenomenal. It shows that improvements are possible. Why not put the same effort into the other legends? Most of these guys have looked the EXACT same since NBA 2K16. Why does DeAndre Jordan have long ponytail Dreads on the '14 Clippers? And Stephon Marbury? It makes no sense.”

Will we see NBA 2K23 cross-play?

NBA 2K23 screenshot

(Image credit: 2K)

A recent FAQ has confirmed NBA 2K23 cross-platform and crossplay details. While progress can transfer between console families - so PS4 to PS5, Xbox One to Series X - there's no crossplay between platforms. 

In May, EA EA began testing cross-play within the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of FIFA 22, using Online Friendlies and Online Seasons. Soon after, confirmation emerged that both FIFA 23 and NHL 23 will support cross-play. But EA doesn’t make a basketball game, and at this point, there’s no suggestion that NBA 2K23 will incorporate similar tech in any upcoming patch. However, it’s certainly something Visual Concepts will need to look hard at going forwards if EA’s suite of rival games make a success of it. So, maybe, cross-play could be a thing in NBA 2K24.

Ben Wilson

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.

With contributions from