Sure: you can get by in NBA 2K14 by bringing the ball up the court on every possession and calling for a simple pick and roll or quick isolation. You might even slide by if you just rely on your computer-controlled teammates to keep the floor spaced and make some smart cuts. But eventually — particularly against the CPU — running hero ball eventually gets old.
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With the NBA’s All-Star Weekend upon us, it’s time to step your own game up and start getting into calling plays. Playbooks should, of course, be customized responsively to the players on the team you’re using. (This goes double for MyGM teams that have either been fantasy drafted or that have undergone upheaval via active trading. There’s just no guaranteeing the sets run by the Cavaliers with their current lineup will be a good fit for the many-headed hydra you’ve turned them into.) But this set of plays should give you a healthy mix of options for shooters, slashers and big men to get you started.
Before we get started, a couple quick notes about the plays in NBA 2K14 and how they get run.
Not all plays are created equal. The more complicated they are, the longer they take to unfold, and this can be a problem if your computer-controlled players get hung up somewhere on the floor. Generally, the simpler plays are the better ones. When you’re browsing new plays to add watch out for anything that involves multiple handoffs or ancillary movement.
Just about any play can be called for the right or left side of the floor, and whichever side your player is on when you call it is the side it will be run to. This can be used to your advantage if you know your players’ hot zones because some players will shoot better from one wing than the other. It’s in your best interests to call the play to get them in the best position to score.
All the positions have numbers associated with them: 1 for the point guard, 2 for the shooting guard, 3 for the small forward, 4 for the power forward and 5 for the center. Many plays are labeled to indicate the primary options by number, so plays with “23” in them involved the SG and SF, “15” involve the PG and C, and so on. That said, you can call a play with a 5 in it for your PF or have your SF initiate a play with a 1 in it.
- Calling plays is really only fun if you can make them work reasonably well, so I would recommend bumping down the CPU’s Defensive Awareness and bumping up your players’ Offensive Awareness. The reason for this is that the CPU is just not as fallible as real human opponents would be on the court; it’s very hard to catch them in a misdirection. This makes them a little dumber, a little less psychic, and thus a little more susceptible to set plays.
If you have even a half-decent 3-point shooter on your team (anything above an 80), then this is a play you need to have. I’d recommend going into practice mode and finding out where your shooters hot zones are first and remembering that the play will actually develop on the opposite side of the floor from where you call it. Most of the time, you’ll be calling this for a shooting guard or small forward with your point guard handling the ball.
The trick with this play is to be patient because it takes a while to develop. The eventual shooter will set a downscreen for the other wing, but this is a strict decoy because it almost never pops him free. What you’re waiting for is the shooter to pop out beyond the 3-point line on the opposite wing where both frontcourt players are waiting to set a screen. I recommend using icon passing here and making sure to either pull him out past the 3-point arc or closer to the top of the arc with precision passing to make sure he uses the screens.
Before he’s even gotten the ball you should be able to tell if the screens worked. If the shooter is open, splash it. If his defender is right up on him, get control of the ball and then call a pick and roll. One of the big men will come to set it while the other clears out. This actually evolves into a nice pick-and-roll situation as you can see in the video because it clears out the entire side of the floor the play is run to, meaning that the big man will have plenty of room to roll (if he sets the pick on the baseline side) or that the ballhandler will have plenty of room to slash (if the big man sets the pick towards the middle of the floor).
Another play that takes some time to develop, Zipper Fist can be a foundational play, particularly if you’ve got an athletic finisher like LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Paul George. The point guard controls the ball on the wing while the power forward sets a downscreen for the player the play is called for (typically the shooting guard or small forward). It might be tempting to pass to the SG or SF as soon as he pops — and you can if he really sheds the defender — but if you wait, there are two further wrinkles to the play.
The SG or SF will feint a dive into the paint and if you lead him with the pass he will go all the way to the basket. This takes good timing and will generally only work if his man overpursues in recovering from the screen. But if you wait for the SG or SF to feint and then float back a little beyond the 3-point line, the play gets really beautiful. If you dish it to him then, the center will step up from the opposite elbow and set a peculiarly bone-rattling screen. The floor is wide open at this point since the ballhandler is getting the ball a little beyond the 3-point line and with a lot of space on the opposite side. (The other wing player should be camping in the corner.) Hit that screen and get to the hole. If the defense collapses, kick it to the man in the corner for a 3-pointer.
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SWING DROP 5
This play is all about timing, and it helps if you have a tall, reasonably decent passing center to make it work. The center sets up at the elbow while the point guard controls from the top of the arc. The power forward curls off a downscreen from the center. The key with passing it to the power forward is to wait for him to get around the center and then lead him along the free throw line with your pass. That should draw the center’s defender with, opening up your center for a short range shot or easy finish at the rim.
This play can be a very effective way to get your big men involved in the offense without having to work through post-ups. Do this, and the opposing team’s defense will have to sag off of outside shooters to make sure the paint is protected, opening up more lanes for slashers and more space for shooters.
It can be hard to know what to do in the post in NBA 2K14. Jump shooting is easy: if you’re unguarded when you catch it, put it up. But the post is a murky place where it can sometimes be hard to tell whether you’ve got the advantage or not. The 35 Punch (meaning it revolves around the small forward (3) and center (5)) is a little more complex than a straightforward Punch play, which means it can get you a better initial look in a lot of situations.
After feeding the SF on the wing, the immediate option is to drop it directly to the C, who will be posting up. If he has good position, this is a great option, but if he’s a couple steps outside the paint, just wait. The PF will cut to the area around the free throw line and if you pass to him, the C will attempt to push his way a little deeper into the paint. The opposing C will often give ground on this action because he’s paying a bit of attention to the pass you just made to the PF. If the C gets good position, dish it down, make one good push into the paint, and then hit the jump hook or the fadeaway. If not, a simple spin move by the PF away from the side the C is on is a good way to get into space and towards the hoop.
This is great action to run multiple times in a game because you can take different things from the defense depending on how they react. The most obvious option is to take the pick with the ballhandler and get all the way to the hoop. Second option is to be a little more patient and hit the roll man on the way to the hoop. But if the defense collapses from the corner on the ballhandler and the player in the corner is a good shooter, you can hit him for a high percentage look. (Depending on the player he may also cut to the bucket as you see James Anderson do in the video.) Lastly, if the second big man’s defender rotates to close off the screener’s dive, he’ll be open for a midrange shot or else sometimes dives to the hoop as well. If you’ve got a PG who can handle, distribute and finish, big men who can roll and finish and wing players who can shoot, this is a golden play.
The Double Dragg is the nuclear option of screen plays. The important thing to know about it is that the player you call it for is going to get the secondary action on the play. It’s also key to already be in position on the wing on whichever side of the floor you want the play to develop on because the play evolves quickly and will get tangled up if you call it before you’re in position.
But once you’re set up with your ballhandler and call it, the PF and C will come over to set a double screen for you. These screens will be quasi-low, so you sort of have to drive towards the edge of the second screen rather hard to make the best use of them. If this frees you up, continue to the basket or else take a stepback jumper around the opposite elbow. If it doesn’t — which is more likely — just fall back to the top of the arc and wait. The PF and C will move towards the corner and set another double screen for the player you called the play for, usually the SG or the SF. When he pops out to the wing, hit him for the 3-pointer.
A bare bones play, but not a bad one to have in your back pocket. The basic idea of the floppy set is to have shooters pop out from behind downscreens in the post to catch a pass from the point guard at the top of the arc for a quick two points (or maybe three). There’s a “flat” version, where the primary scorer will run the baseline from one corner to the other to pop out on the wing or “flat,” but we’ll just stick with the garden variety floppy because it’s easy to remember when you’re staring down the list of possible plays in that pop-up box.
Keep in mind that the primary scoring option who you call this play for is only barely a better option than the secondary one, which will typically be your other wing player popping out on the other side. When you call it, watch to see who gets better separation and get it to that guy. Also, keep in mind that the side of the floor you call this on influences which side it unfolds on, so it helps to know your shooters’ hot zones.