NBA 2K19: Tips and tricks

With NBA 2K19 being the model of consistency in simulation sports gaming, the game can be scary for those who haven't been playing for several years. Don't worry if that person is you — we've got you covered.

We've gone and compiled a list of tips and tricks that'll help you give up fewer points, score more points, and work your way toward the ultimate prizes and honors in professional basketball. Join us straight ahead.

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Offensive tips

Every single possession counts in a game of basketball. Keep these tips in mind when the rock is in your hands.

Master your shot (or find a better one)

NBA 2K19 features a new shot meter this year. It's vertical and it's simple: Hold the shot button to start the meter up, and release it once the green bar fills to the top. A less-than-perfect shot won't always miss, and perfect shots don't always go in, so don't stress too hard about this. Just try and stop the bar as high as you can.

If you're having trouble with the new shot meter, note that you can go back to the old system that was based on animation timing. In that one, just hold the shot button and then release it the moment the ball is about to leave your player's hands.

One last thing with shots: you can actually change your shot animation. Not only do some shots look flat-out cool, but they can also be more natural for you to execute. Find the one you like and practice it until your thumbs go numb.

Don't abuse the turbo button

Speed is an important measure in basketball, but as you might guess, it's not wise to hold the turbo button all game. The biggest reason is that it spends precious stamina, and that means your players are less accurate and less effective overall. It also lessens your precision when trying to make subtle moves to get around defenders.

To avoid having to bench your stars for long breathers, let off of the turbo button. You really should only be using it in fast break scenarios or if you're caught out of position and need to race to the open man.

Use bounce passes for safety

Pressing the pass button and nothing more will let you make a basic pass to the nearest teammate while pushing the left stick in a direction will let you quickly dish it out to whoever's in that vicinity. This alone might not be enough.

There are many different passing variations in NBA 2K19, but the one you should master first is the bounce pass. This is a low-risk pass that makes it harder for defenders to jump into the passing lane and steal the ball. Just make sure you don't try to pass it to someone on the other side of the court.

Limit your contested shots

Don't force your shots. There will be tons of times in NBA 2K19 where you're just not open, and that's OK. In these scenarios, just pass the ball to your teammates and see if they can't do anything better with it. At the least, it takes pressure off of you to try and find a better position to make the play. That's not to say you should never attempt these shots — after all, a late-game buzzer-beater might necessitate this desperation move.

Know your player's limitations

Take some time to learn the pros and cons of the player you're using. Check out their attributes and ratings to see where they excel and do your best to put those players in the best places where they can make an impact.

Lebron James can beat anyone to the point. Stephen Curry can drain three-pointers like it's nothing. But don't you dare go to the wing with Blake Griffin.

Take the easier shots

I can't stress this enough — take the easy shots. Sure, a behind-the-back no-look alley-oop to a cartwheeling Kevin Durant sounds nice, but it's also foolhardy and dangerous.

Instead, why not just mosey into the paint and go for a much safer layup? It'll count for two points all the same, and you won't have a scoreless possession. Of course, if you find yourself off to a 20 point lead, rack up all the style points you want.

Call for or set picks and rolls

There are many tools in basketball designed to help someone get open. We could go over the many concepts and plays available to you, but the very first thing you must learn is how to call a pick.

It's a simple affair: tap L1, and you'll be able to move a nearby teammate into a guarding position so as to disrupt your defender and allow you to make a move around him. This is probably the most common tactic in all of basketball, and that's because it's extremely effective. Learn it and use it when you just can't work past your man.

In game modes where you are playing off-ball offense, you can spring your AI teammates by walking up to the side of the defender and holding the Circle button. Just pray that your teammate takes the pick when it's available.

Defensive tips

It's not all about scoring points — you have to prevent your opponents from scoring them, too. Digest these tips on the other side of the ball to keep the other team from running away with the game.

Square up and strafe for better defense

When it comes time to keep up with your man, you might think the turbo button will keep you safe. That is wrong. Hold L2 instead, and watch as your player gets low and squares his shoulder to the ball carrier. You'll find it easier to control your man as you look to try and match the movements of the ball carrier, and you can even use the right analog stick to put your hands in the way of a shot or into a passing lane to attempt a block, steal, or contested shot. The L2 button will be your best friend on defense.

You will still need to get comfortable with that turbo button if you're on offense and suffer a fast break rebound, but for the most part, this is how you follow your assignment.

Get back on the fast break

Speaking of fast breaks, don't lollygag on the turn of possession. If your teammate misses a shot and you can't get the rebound, start running down to the other end of the court. And when you make the shot, don't sit around celebrating when the point guard is about to take the ball right back in the other direction.

Box out on rebounds and free-throws

And speaking of rebounds, make it easier on yourself. The defense will be in a better position to rebound the ball more often than not. When you are, hold L2 to box your guy out, and either pave the way for your players to grab it or go and get it yourself (especially if you're the center).

Don't leave your man open

Not sure what your assignment on any given play or in any given defense is supposed to be? NBA 2K19 has visual aides turned on for most difficulty levels. On defense, you'll see a blue arrow directing you toward the man you're supposed to pick up.

It's especially important to pay attention to this indicator when you're playing zone defense, as the man you're supposed to be guarding changes constantly. If you find yourself away from the play, just press the X button to switch to the player closest to the ball.

Go for well-timed steals

Forcing turnovers is an important part of basketball. The classic steal is one of the most exciting defensive plays because of it. Just press Square to put your hand out and go for the ball.

Be careful, though. If you spam the steal button you risk being called for a reach-in foul. Try and only go for the steal against a player who doesn't have great handling, or while they're in the act of passing the ball. Even just one or two stolen possessions can be the difference between winning and losing the game.

MyCareer tips

Don't squander your opportunity to take your superstar to new heights. Follow these few basic tips to maximize your potential.

Go to a bad team

There's a little inside joke in sports drafts: no one wants to go to the worst team. Often than not, that team is usually the one ahead of the pack in the draft order as they ranked lowest in the previous season. It could also be the one with the most money to throw around, as bad teams usually have more cap space to work with.

Against all of the lessons you've been taught in life, we're here to tell you that this is not a bad thing in NBA 2K19. Going to a bad team can have its benefits for a star on the rise. You're likely to get more playing time, which means you'll get more chances to prove yourself, which means you'll become a starter faster, which means you'll make more money. Your dream might be to play alongside Lebron James on the Lakers but think about how much money you could make if you were tasked with pulling a franchise like the Detroit Pistons out of mediocrity.

You can still go to a team that has superstars on it and make out OK in the long run (especially when some of those older guys start retiring), but don't even think about joining one with a star at the same position as yours unless you like riding the pine.

Only buy what you need

If you're not going to be spending any real money in MyCareer, then it's important to be smart with your VC. (On the flipside, if you're not interested in grinding for the VC, then be smart with your real money.)

Especially in the early going, you'll want to use every point of VC you get to improve your character's ratings and abilities. The shoes, tattoos, jewelry, haircuts, and all that other stuff will tempt you for sure, but there's no sense in being a well-dressed basketball player who can't exactly play basketball.

Go for the badges you want early

Go through the list of possible badges you can earn and identify the ones you think will benefit your character the most. When you find those badges, equip them and level them early. Aside from raw attribute points, badges offer you the most significant source of improvement (and you won't even need to spend any VC to get them).

Choose the most lucrative sponsorships (and do them)

Don't gloss over sponsorships as some sort of side game that doesn't mean anything. Sponsorships can net you more VC per game, a bonus on big, nationally televised games, and free gear. This is especially important if you aren't spending real money on VC, as the grind to improve your character is brutal otherwise.

To that end, pay close attention to the choices you make in MyCareer. Each choice and action will get you more fans, more media exposure, or alter the chemistry between you and your teammates, all of which will factor into both your player and sponsorship contract negotiations.

Get out there and score

It's time to hit the courts and show everyone what you're made of. Combine everything you've learned here with more advanced skills you'll learn along the way, and you'll scoring baskets and winning games so much that you'll be challenging Michael Jordan's championship ring total.

NBA 2K19 is out now for folks who bought or pre-ordered the $100 20th Anniversary Edition, which also comes with a sizable amount of VC, MyTeam packs, and more.

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If you don't mind waiting, however, you can snag the standard version of NBA 2K19 starting Sept. 11 for $60.

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Quentyn Kennemer