NBA 2K21: Beginner’s guide to shooting

A beginner’s guide to shooting in NBA 2K21.

Shooting in NBA 2K21 might not be as easy as it used to be, thanks to some control changes made by the game developer, Visual Concepts. But if you’re a newcomer to the NBA 2K franchise, you will need to learn more than just taking a regular shot in 2K21. You will need to know several controls and understand that there are certain times you will want to take a shot and times you don’t want to.

If you’re new to NBA 2K21 and want to learn all about shooting, you came to the right place. Let’s go over what you need to know about shooting the basketball in NBA 2K21.

The controls

You will need to know several controls in NBA 2K21, and keep in mind there’s more than one way to attempt a shot. So what are the controls you need to know? Here’s a look at the controls you will need to know for shooting.

  • Jump shot – Press and hold X/Square then release or move and hold right stick straight down then release
  • Free throw – Press and hold X/Square then release or move and hold right stick straight down then release
  • Normal layup – Move and hold right stick up while driving on close range
  • Runner/Floater – Move and hold right stick down while driving in close range
  • Reverse layup – Move and hold right stick while driving along the right baseline (with left stick)
  • Euro step layup – Double tap X/Square while driving (and hold X/Square after second tap) while holding left stick toward off hand or move and hold right stick left while driving with ball in right hand
  • Cradle layup – Double tap X/Square while driving (and hold X/Square after second tap) while holding left stick toward off hand or move and hold right stick left while driving with ball in right hand
  • Two-hand dunk – Press RT/R2 + move and hold right stick up while driving in close range
  • Dominant (or off-hand) dunk – Press RT/R2 + move and hold right stick up left or right in close range (the direction of the right stick determines dunking hand)
  • Flashy dunk – Press RT/R2 + move and hold right stick down while driving in close range (with left stick), release right stick to finish dunk
  • Pump fake – Tap X/Square
  • Hop gather – Tap X/Square while dribbling with left stick deflected or move and hold right stick down left or right while dribbling
  • Spin gather – Hold RT/R2 + double tap X/Square or rotate right stick clockwise then hold while driving with ball in right hand
  • Half spin gather – Rotate right stick in a quarter-circle from right to up then hold while driving with ball in right hand
  • Step through – At close range, pump fake, then press and hold X/Square or pump fake, then move and hold right stick in any direction before the pump fake ends
  • Putback – Press X/Square when attempting an offensive rebound

Try to get the boost

Thanks to the re-mapping of the shooting controls, it’s much more challenging to successfully attempt a shot. So what does the development team advise you to do? Per NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang, players should tap LT/L2 at the right time to receive a shooting boost. Also, Wang advises players to shut off the Shot Meter when using the Shot Button (X/Square) for a boost.

Be careful about contested shots

Much like in real-life basketball, you want to be careful about taking contested shots. If a defender has a hand directly in front of your face, it will be difficult for you to fully get the shot off. And if the defender is rubbing up right next to you, it might be extremely dangerous to attempt, thanks to the fact that there will be little space to work with.

Rather than attempting a contested shot, a good way to loosen things up is to move the ball around. By passing the ball around, not only can you get the opposing team moving around, but it should also help you find a mismatch or even an open teammate. If you can find that open man, give the ball right to him, as he should have a better chance of making a successful shot.

Call plays if necessary

If passing the ball around doesn’t open up space, you do have other options. You can attempt a drive (left stick + RT/R2) or use the right stick to perform a spin to beat the defender, but you also can call a set play. Set plays, such as screens, can loosen up the opposing team’s defense and possibly give one of your teammates an open look.

To call a play, first hit LB/L1 while dribbling. This will open up a box where you can call several different formations. To call one of those plays that appear, select the button that corresponds with the play. Doing this every now and then will not only make you more unpredictable but also catch an unsuspecting opponent off guard.

Don’t always go for a 3

It might be tempting since three-point shots are quite the thing in the NBA. But the reality is that you have a higher chance of scoring just by working the ball into the paint. Making three-point shots do pay off, but be conservative when attempting them. Play the percentages and try to work the ball inside, since you have a better chance of making a basket from there than behind the arc.