NBA 2K23 Gameplay: Shooting, Defense, Dunking, and More

The release of NBA 2K23 has officially been confirmed for September 9th, 2022, but for most fans and hardcore players, it’s the gameplay details that we’ve been waiting for. So what gameplay changes have been made for NBA 2K23? As it turns out, a LOT.

More than a simple rehash of NBA 2K22 the developers have gone all out and completely reworked key aspects of the game. We’re detailing all changes to the pro stick, badge system, player builder, dribbling, defence, and more below. And in case you missed the gameplay trailer, we’ve linked that one above. Let’s check it out.

Related: Check out our guide to NBA 2K23 for more information about pricing, release date, and game modes. 

NBA 2K23 Player Builder

Pie charts are gone for Current Gen players who will now get access to the Next Gen systems Player Builder. Outside of this change 2K hasn’t outlined the specific changes, it’s made to the build system, however, they’ve stated that the main goals for the Player Builder were “refinement, polish, and balance.” Once again ensuring us that all builds will be balanced and fair regardless of size, position, or skillset.

We’re also glad to say that animation purchases will now be account-based rather than bound to one save file. Some will remember the famous glitches of old games where 6’10” Point Forwards ruled the park with glitched dunks, but 2K have handled this by limiting animation sharing based on animation requirements (stat and height based as usual). Think of it like clothing from 2K22.

No information has been provided on the cost of maxing out a build on NBA 2K23.

Nba 2k23 devin booker

Image: NBA 2K

NBA 2K23 Badges

The whole badge system has been re-worked for NBA 2K23 on New Gen consoles with players now earning badges through progressive tiers. In a bid to turn down the badge stacking that happened in NBA 2K22 (e.g. Play Shots with 10 HOF shooting) the developers have moved to a tiered badge system. We explain what this is below.

What’s the New Gen Badge System?

To break it down in laymen’s terms there are 16 badges per attribute category:

  • Eight in Tier 1.
  • Four in Tier 2.
  • Four in Tier 3.

Tier 1 badges are the least powerful and also cost the least amount of badge points. And as you can imagine, the price of badges goes up as the badges become more powerful e.g. you’ll need to equip a certain number of badges in the lower tiers before you can equip badges in the highest.

Core badges have also been added to NBA 2K23, which are four unique badge slots (one in each attribute category) that can be filled with badges that don’t count toward your overall badge points. These are earned through challenges, although the where or what these challenges are haven’t been highlighted by 2K at the time of writing. Ultimately, these will be the most important badges to pick, so choose wisely!

Nba 2k23 gameplay

Image: NBA 2K

What Badges Are There in NBA 2K23?

NBA 2K23 will have a range of new badges, with most of them seemingly receiving a name change. The company has outlined the layout of the new badges and we’ve detailed them below.

Finishing Badges in NBA 2K23

  • Slithery – Makes it easier to gather through traffic, avoiding collisions and strips.
  • Masher – Increases ability to finish inside layups over defenders.
  • Aerial Wizard – Ability to successfully complete alley-oops and putbacks.
  • Bully – Like Giannis and LeBron, able to finish strong by bulldozing through traffic.

Removed: Hook Specialist

Shooting Badges in NBA 2K23

  • Agent 3 – Ability to hit difficult 3-point shots off the dribble.
  • Middy Magician – Improved ability to knock down mid-range jumpers off the bounce or out of the post like MJ.
  • Amped – Reduces the shooting attribute penalties when fatigued and when moving excessively prior to shooting.
  • Claymore – Increases a spot-up shooter’s ability to knock down catch and shoot jumpers the longer they remain stationary prior to shooting.
  • Comeback Kid – Improved ability to shoot perimeter jumpers when trailing in a game.
  • Hand Down Man Down – This badge makes an outside shooter even deadlier if the opponent fails to get a hand in the face.
  • Space Creator – Formerly a Playmaking badge, it now boosts the ability to hit stepback jumpers and hop shots, and also will cause defenders to stumble more often.
  • Limitless Range – An old favourite returns, making shooters more effective with any shot attempt from deep 3PT range.

Removed: Chef, Hot Zone Hunter, Lucky #7, Mismatch Expert (moved to playmaking), Set Shooter, Sniper, and Limitless Spot-Up

Playmaking Badges in NBA 2K23

  • Killer Combos – Improves a dribbler’s effectiveness with size-up dribble moves (combination of Quick Chain and Tight Handles).
  • Clamp Breaker – Helps ball handlers win more 1-on-1 body bump confrontations (the counter to Clamps).
  • Vice Grip – Improves ball security immediately after securing a rebound, catch, or picking up the ball.
  • Mismatch Expert – Once a shooting badge, this badge now helps smaller guards break down taller defenders when mismatched 1-on-1

Removed: Bullet Passer, Downhill, Glue Hands, Stop & Go

Defense and Rebounding Badges in NBA 2K23

  • Anchor – A crucial badge for the last line of defense bigs, improves the ability to block and contest shots in the paint
  • Boxout Beast – Helps rebounders win boxout battles on both offensive and defensive rebounding situations
  • Work Horse – The Pat Bev badge that boosts your ability to hustle down 50/50 balls and play hard-nosed defense without getting tired
  • Glove – Named after Gary Payton, helps you strip players as they gather for shots and poke the ball free from ball handlers
  • Challenger – Improves the effectiveness of perimeter shot contests

Removed: Defensive Leader

Has Takeover Changed?

Primary and secondary takeovers remain the same as 2K22.

For NBA 2K23, the whole team will share the same meter. This results in every individual player having to earn an equal portion of the takeover bar – so think about that lockdown in the corner on offence, how are you going to get that player some points on the offensive end? We tend to like the new version of Takeover, however, we’ll reserve final judgement to gameplay review.

Nba 2k23 dunking

Image: NBA 2K

NBA 2K23 Gameplay

What Changes Have Been Made to Offense?

Prostick

The most notable change to gameplay includes double throws for pro stick control. NBA 2K describes this as “flicking the Pro Stick in a direction, letting it go back to centre, and then quickly moving the Pro Stick back in the same direction,” and switchbacks which is described as “flicking the Pro Stick in a direction, letting it centre, and then quickly moving the Pro Stick in the opposite direction.”

These moves will become mandatory for smaller gaurds with quick scoop layups being implemented for the first time. Euro step and hop step layups will utilise these functions. New layup animations have been included from players such as Devin Booker, Joel Embiid, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Nikola Jokic, Zach LaVine, Ja Morant, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and more.

Dunking

Forced metered dunks return for NBA 2K23 but the new commands are said to expand the dunking controls and let you dunk exactly how you want without accidentally firing off a skill dunk you weren’t expecting. How many times have you been blocked on an accidental windmill dunk with the game on the line? Yeah… at least it sounds like it’s fixed.

When driving to the basket with the Sprint trigger held, NBA 2K says the new Pro Stick control map for dunks are as follows:

  • UP = Two-Hand
  • RIGHT = Strong Hand
  • LEFT = Weak Hand
  • DOWN = Rim Hang
  • UP-UP = Flashy Two-Hand
  • DOWN-UP = Flashy One-Hand
  • UP-DOWN = Normal Skill Dunk with meter
  • DOWN-DOWN = Rim Hang Skill Dunk with meter

Controllable rim hangs have also been added into the game for Next Gen. This is achieved by holding the sprint trigger after a dunk and can be modified with the left stick and further with the right stick to pull your player up on the ring. We reckon this sounds like some serious fun for the park, however, could be a sure-fire way for a technical foul in MyCareer or ProAm.

Shooting

  • More than twice the number of shot animations have been added.
  • Five new shot meters to choose from, with each filling to the end (17-20 style).
  • Shot arcs will tell you if your release is off – early (high arc), late (flat arc), or on time (ideal arc).
  • With Shot Feedback enabled, green animations won’t signal until the ball hits the basket.
  • If you press and hold B/CIRCLE, the receiver pointed with the left stick will perform a quick V or flare cut to get open on the perimeter.

Dribbling

Switchback gestures will now perform dedicated signature double cross and hesitation cross combo moves that you can assign as part of the Moving Crossover signature package – which has grown from 15 options to 28. The brand has also said that “Energy will deplete much quicker when spamming too many moves together, so it’s important to be efficient and not ‘play with your food’ too long.” We’re not sure how true this will be in practice as every game has either increased fatigue or lowered it in the past to find a balance point.

An adrenaline boost has been included with three small bars under the player to prevent overdribbling.

Nba 2k23 devin booker 2

Image: NBA 2K

What Changes Have Been Made to Defense?

One of the biggest changes made to the game includes a new shade meter for defenders. To break it down for you, three bars on the indicator represent three zones: Straight up, Shade left, Shade right, and the zone the defender is shown in red. If the ball handler attempts to attack a red lane, they’ll get cut off, lose their dribble, or fumble the ball. Sound OP? That’s probably because it will be and true on-ball defenders will have a field day with this in the new game. This also works in the post.

Strides have been made for shot blocking with improved block targeting. Shorter guards will no longer be able to replicate Lebron’s championship-sealing block of Andre Igoudala either… thank god.

Ball security for quality dunkers has also been improved, leaning on Takeover for those massive poster dunks and rewarding smarter dunks in other situations. Shorter players with fast hands will also be rewarded with more steals on the ball, but failed stripped ball animations have also been included for bad swipes at the ball on layups and dunks. Finally, out-of-bounds line saves have been made more realistic.

That’s it for NBA 2K23 gameplay changes for now, but we can’t wait to bring you our thoughts on gameplay once we take the game for a spin ourselves. In the meantime, you can check out the full courtside report from NBA 2K linked below.

Check it out

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NBA 2K22 Gameplay Details: Shooting, Defense, Dunking, and More

JOURNALIST

Ben McKimm

Ben lives in Sydney, Australia. He has a Bachelor's Degree (Media, Technology and the Law) from Macquarie University (2020). Outside of his studies, he has spent the last decade heavily involved in the automotive, technology and fashion world. Turning his passion and expertise into a Journalist position at Man of Many where he continues to write about everything that interests the modern man. Conducting car reviews on both the road and track, hands-on reviews of cutting-edge technology and employing a vast knowledge in the space of fashion and sneakers to his work. One day he hopes to own his own brand.