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NBA 2K21 Gameplay Improvements Detailed

NBA 2K21 fans finally got some news about new gameplay and other features for the upcoming game. In a blog, NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang shared the latest news on what’s to come for the new release.

Wang had a conversation with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damien Lillard about what Lillard would like to see in the game. He added that the notes he got from Lillard will be added to the wishlist of what the game will be adding in the future. Here are some of the new gameplay features Wang told fans to watch out for in NBA 2K21 when it releases on September 4.

New Gameplay Features in NBA 2K21

The Pro Stick

The Pro Stick has been a staple of 2K basketball for years now and for the most part, has largely gone unchanged since its inception. For NBA 2K21, this is a big opportunity to freshen up the game on the offensive end. In past games, you could hold the Pro Stick in any direction to take a jump shot. That was limited utilizing the right stick as a fully-featured dribble stick. So this year, there’s a change to how the Pro Stick works. In a nutshell:

  • Hold RS down = jump shot

  • Hold RS left or right = escape dribble moves

  • Hold RS up = signature size-ups

  • Tap the RS = quick 1-to-1 dribble moves

  • Tap the RS with Spring held = quick momentum dribble moves


Dribble moves weren’t the only thing that benefitted from the Pro Stick upgrade. Jump shooting and finishing at the rim were points of emphasis as well. The 2K team wanted to make scoring the basketball a skill both from the perimeter and at the rim, so they brainstormed and prototyped a number of various shooting mechanics for this year’s game.

For NBA 2K21, when you shoot with the Pro Stick, the shot meter changes from a timing bar to a targeting system. So instead of trying to stop the shot meter when you reach the perfect release window, you adjust the Pro Stick in real time to hit the ideal center aim point. The target window resizes dynamically based on player ability, shooting range, and how well the shot is contested and can also shift to the left or right based on the shot’s degree of difficulty. If you miss the target too far to the left, the shot will miss in that direction.

The aiming concept also applies to finishing layups, replicating the idea of having “good touch” around the rim. As you’re driving you can still hold the Pro Stick in any direction to start a layup, but this year, you’ll want to quickly swing the stick to move the aiming tick to the center of the target. Aiming layups well can help overcome shot contests and help you finish through contact.

On the shooting animation side, you can expect a plethora of new shot types, including Harden’s unique 1-foot running fadeaway. And a quick note for all the Park players, they’ve added over 40 new Park Jump Shot Landings for you to show off with when you hit from outside.

On the defensive end, you can expect a much stronger presence from bigs in the paint. Block targeting has been improved so it will be easier to send weak shots back and they’ve loaded up more coverage for contact in the paint to slow down overpowered moves like last year’s hop step layup.

Motion Styles

Last year 2K introduced signature dribble styles, which gave Magic Johnson his unique upcourt waddle, Steve Nash’s finger licks, and much more. This upgrade has now made its way onto the defensive end with signature defensive motion styles. Here’s the list of players you can model your player’s movement after: Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Pat Beverly, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green. In addition to this, movement has undergone several refinements, both with the ball and without, to provide a more consistent and responsive feel on the sticks.


Badges are returning for NBA 2K21. Throughout the life of NBA 2K20, 2k collected telemetry data that gave for a detailed breakdown of what badges people were equipped for certain build types, and which ones weren’t being used as much. This was very useful in helping redesign and tune the badges for NBA 2K21. It will give gamers more effective tools to take over games in a more varied fashion. And here’s some good news that I know the community will appreciate. 2K removed Quick Draw and put release speed back into the Jump Shot Creator. So that’s one thing you won’t have to waste your precious badge points on.

For more in-depth details of Wangs’ blog and all the new gameplay details to NBA 2K21, click on the link to read the full post.



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