Our latest SGO tutorial guide covers how to improve your on-ball defense in NBA 2K24.
NBA 2K24 On Ball Defense Tutorial
To succeed as an on-ball defender, you need to take full advantage of angles, anticipation, and being aggressive at the right times. I’ll go over it all shortly, but first, let’s go over the controls and settings you are going to want to be familiar with:
First, this is a big help as far as helping you navigate the pick and roll and it’s going into the pause menu and then to your game plan. Then, go to your coach settings and scroll all the way down to “Team Communication”. This is where you want to switch it to “Defense Only”. This lets you know when pick and rolls are coming before you’re even visually aware of it, by a little indicator popping up above your player’s head of what coverage you’re supposed to be playing. Again, it gives you an extra second to plan ahead what you’re going to do against screens, whether it’s letting you stick close to the ball handler or cut them off.
Left Stick Movement
Now as far as controls to get it out of the way, the left stick is how you’re going to move your player around and track the ball handler. If you hold the right trigger while moving the left stick, your player will then sprint in whatever direction you’re aiming.
Now if you hold the left trigger, your player will get into a defensive stance. So when you move the left stick around you will see he’s spread apart when he moves and he always will be facing forward.
Now if you hold both the left trigger and right triggers while moving around with the left stick, your player will perform a Fast Shuffle. So when you move the left stick, he will continue to keep his head forward while moving faster laterally.
Pros & Cons
Left Stick Movement
Using just the left stick, yes you are able to move around; however, if you notice the defender will turn his back when changing directions (you don’t want that) and it’s a lot harder to move side to side on a dime. This is why only the left stick and turbo will be primarily used in chase-down situations.
Defensive Stance/Fast Shuffle
Now, since just using the left stick can’t be trusted fully. You’re going to be relying on tracking the ball handler while in a defensive stance in most cases. Especially since it keeps you forward as long as you are holding the left trigger to defend shots. But it’s a give and take right? Moving around in your stance doesn’t let you move side to side as fast as just the left stick and sprint. So that’s where being in a defensive stance can hurt if you are defending somebody in a full sprint and or you stay in your stance way after it is time to abandon ship and sprint chase (which luckily all you have to do is let go of the left trigger and now you can sprint as fast as you can.) Now how do you know when it’s time to chase down the ball handler after losing contain?
Defensive Aim Points
I mention this in a lot of my videos, but an easy way to know when your stance has failed you and they’re about to beat you to the rim is if it looks like they’re going to beat you to the free-throw line or the low block to the elbow. You want to use this as your marker to tell if you are doing well or not, because if they beat you here your opponent can trigger animations and cause defenders to crash and create kick-out chances. If you beat them to this spot or it’s well-guarded, you will create heavily contested shots or (if you ever notice your opponent will pump fake in this area) that means you basically canceled their animation because you beat them to the spot where they can trigger it.
So in the halfcourt, knowing the area where they need to beat you, can help you not react to every little dribble move even when they don’t go anywhere, because you know you have the free throw locked down. While also, giving you a clue when it is time to abandon ship out of your stance and try to sprint back up and cut them off as best as you can.
Now you can combine knowing your spots on the floor, with since your able to see what the ball handler sees, you can see if they have a clear lane or not (meaning nobody at the paint) and almost predict their route and cheat over. If a guy is coming up the sidelines and you see the baseline is open (don’t be afraid to cheat over a bit) You can look like the best defender ever, just by noticing where the open lane is past you and cheating over.
Play Passing Lanes
Now when trying to create turnovers, there are two ways to grab steals as an on-ball defender. You can play the passing lane or you can pick their pocket clean. When playing the passing lane, you can use the square or X button. Since the direction you point the right stick will be from the defender’s perspective, remember the direction the ball is being passed, you will flick the right stick the opposite way. So passes thrown to the right, you will want the defender’s left hand to animate so flick the right stick left and visa versa. On-ball the same thing applies, you want to not get confused and pick the correct hand to attempt an on-ball steal. It’s best to attempt after a dribble combo, or you’ve been dogging the ball handler the whole possession bumping them off course.
Cut off The Ball Handler
Now, while holding both the left and right triggers. You can also attempt to cut off ball handlers by flicking the left stick in any direction and your player will take a quick lunge. So you’re going to want to do this before they fully commit to the drive or are about to pass you. Now, the cutoff step won’t work if you’re also holding the right stick in any direction to contest.
If you think your opponent is about to attempt a shot, flicking the right stick up helps you contest the shot to the best of your ability.
Full Court Press
Lastly, I want to suggest playing full-court press and practicing chasing and changing directions against the ball handler. Since people hurry up and try and get to the paint as fast as they can when they see the press right? What better way to practice simulating defending in the halfcourt? Playing on-ball, you’re always going to be a step behind in reacting, so you have to rely on what the court is looking like as far as space goes, what the opponent likes to do, and preventing that and also being a menace going off script when you see the opportunity to do so.
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