When most people first get a new NBA 2K game, they probably go right into playing a couple “Play Now” games, or maybe look at the rosters. They might play online or immediately fire up MyCareer mode.
I’m not most people. I played two “Play Now” games purely to check out the rosters on each team, then started a MyGM franchise so I could really dig into the Xs and Os of the game.
I had a lot of fun and felt a lot of pain going through the hundreds of plays within the 2K Play Catalog. There were some solid plays, some that were a weak side action away from being great, and a lot of awful plays.
After scouring through the Play Catalog I found 40 plays I liked. From there, I cut those 40 down to 20 plays I really liked and think you should use. Below are the play names, organized by the category you’ll find them under, and a brief attack plan for using the plays.
But before you do anything, make sure your plays save! I made this mistake and wasted a lot of time. Don’t make the same mistake. You’ll need to go to the “Coaching” category and click on “Coach Gameplan,” then “All Teams,” then press R2/RT, and then change the Playbook your team will be using from the default to “User Playbook 1.” Then go into “Edit Playbook” from the “Coaching” category to remove the bad plays and add the ones you want. If you don’t change from the default to User Playbook 1, any work you do won’t be saved.
Use these plays (organized by category title) to optimize your Lakers NBA 2K18 playbook and dominate your games:
Pick & Roll
Fist 51 Loop: This play utilizes an AI cut from the SG running across the FT line from one wing to the other as the ball handler receives a ball screen. You might want to use icon passing, but run off of the screen from C and look to attack the rim or pass to the SG flaring out.
Fist 5 Out STS: Look to hit your PF off of the flare screen (if he can shoot), then look to attack off of the ball screen from the center. Pass to the shooter in either corner if their man helps on the drive.
Fist 25 Out 5: This is about as close as we’ll get to “Chicago” action in real basketball, where you have a pin down immediately into a dribble handoff. Look to attack off of the pin down with a shot, and if that’s not available attack off of the C’s screen middle.
Fist 14 Horns STS: This play is misnamed (STS means “Screen the Screener”) because the original screener isn’t being screened for, but whatever. The play is still a nice way to get some ram action, where the screener in the pick and roll is running off of a screen of his own. Call it out and wait for the PF to come set a ball screen, then attack.
Fist 71 Spain: Attack off of the ball screen with an eye on the lob to 5 and kick outs to the corners or back to the top of the key. There will probably be a man open. It’ll just be a matter of making that quick decision correctly. Fist 51 Spain is this same play but with both guards spotting up on the strong side, making it harder to attack with the ball handler and has worse spacing.
Fist 19 DBL: I like this play because the PF and C’s defenders won’t be in a great spot to contest at the rim and the SG lifting on the drive may give you a wide open 3-pointer with him if his man steps over to help on the drive.
Post Up Low
’04 Punch 14 Zipper: If you’re going to run a post up, why not take the 1.5 seconds to have the option to hit a shooter off of a flare screen first?
’04 Punch 4 Quick: Here we have the option to hit the PG off of a flare screen initially, then a split cut between the SG and C after the post feed. If those aren’t open, then it’s time to attack down low.
Cut 13 Alley: I like the opportunity to attack off of a step up screen as the SG fades to the corner and you have the help defense either occupied on the back screen for the SF or giving you a lob.
Cut 15 Horns Alley: This is one of my favorite ball screen plays. You have a wide open lane for the roll man due to the down screen weak side. If they give you that 3-point shot for the SF, make ’em pay. If not, you’ll have the C on the lob or short roll (if they hard hedge).
Cut Loop 42 Dive: Here’s a play that is actually one of the quick strikes in the real life offense I designed. It’s a great play to get an easy shot at the rim. Pass to the big at the high post and then feed the cutting wing, or you may be able to just pass right from the top of the key to the cutter.
Cut 24 Chin: You probably won’t have the PG or SG open on the initial cut, but PF on the slice cut may give you a good shot at the rim and the SG off of double staggered screens looking to catch and shoot/drive is a great option just a second or two later.
Cut 3 Horns Rip: This is one of my favorite plays. You’ll get either a shot at the rim or a post up from the rip screen for the corner player. Once the ball is down low, wait a second to see if the flare screen for the PG is open, and if not, attack down low.
Quick 3 Rip Floppy: This is basic floppy action. Look to hit whoever is more open between the SG and SF running off of the screens to shoot or drive middle.
Quick 4 Horns Flare: Here’s a quick hitter to get a 3-point look off of the flare screen for your PF as you’re also looking to attack the paint.
Quick 32 Box Flare: You have three great looks to score on this play. Look to hit the SF off of the pin down after you receive the ball off of the zipper cut. If the SF doesn’t have a shot, look to hit the PG or SG running off of their screens for shots.
Quick 2 Hammer Rip: Look to hit the PG at the top of the key off of the flare screen or the SF in the opposite corner off of the hammer action.
Quick Swing 3: This is a simple pick and roll play that occupies weak side defense with a pin down. Look to drive or hit the shooter coming off of the pin down.
Quick Swing 21 Rip: Getting looks for the SG running off of two staggered screens with the PG following right behind gives you two chances to catch and shoot or attack with a drive.
Quick 3 Scissor: Here’s a play that gets you a great double staggered screen for a 3-point shot from your SF, then has a flare screen for your PG as a second option if the first one isn’t open.
Do yourself a favor and completely redesign your team’s playbook to these solid plays to help improve your offense. To get great at using these, you’re going to need to PRACTICE. The best way to do this is to go into “Live Practice – Practice Plays” from the “Coaching” category in the MyGM menu. That’ll show the play artwork on the floor to help you understand how to run the play. Once you think you have the plays down, try them in “Live Practice – Scrimmage” and use them when scrimmaging. You can also go into the settings and change it so the PlayVision diagramming is on “full” instead of the light version, which will then show you exactly how to execute the plays during the game.
To run plays in a game/scrimmage, you’ll need to press L1/LB, then hit the button for the player you’re calling the play for, then use L2/LT and R2/RT to go through the available plays, then select one and run it.
THE Freelance Offense to Use
Of all of the freelance motion offenses available in the game, I’d recommend the “Flow” motion offense. It’s essentially Virginia’s Mover-Blocker offense, which is run by a couple NBA teams. The most notable of those teams, and the one that runs it the most, is the Trail Blazers, who have great 3-point shooting guards. This offense is constantly generating 3-point shooting opportunities through the use of down screens and flare screens and usually has two actions going on at once, making it great for 2K.
It’s a 3-out 2-in offense, meaning that at all times you’ll likely have two forwards in the paint clogging driving lanes. So if that’s your style, this may not be for you. But those big men are constantly setting down screens or flare screens, giving you plenty of chances to get open 3-point shots.
This is what you’ll be looking at when you run the offense: You’ll have a down screen flare screen combo to start, then a ball screen from the guard coming off of the down screen. That screener will then receive a flare screen from the big man on that side of the court.
As long as you have some shooters on your team, or at least guys who can hit open 3’s, I’d look to run the Flow motion offense. Try it out first in the scrimmage mode to get comfortable with it.
Side Note: I like the “Warriors” freelance motion and the cuts involved, but when I tried using it the screens weren’t set well about 80% of the time, making it pretty worthless. Maybe that’s just the Lakers roster being bad or it might be some glitch they’ll patch, but I’d try that one out as well.
In general, I’d recommend 20 or fewer plays in your playbook. It’s hard keeping track of what each play entails, so 20 plays is probably the max I’d try to work with. It’s important to try each out, find out which you like most, and get rid of the ones you don’t like. Keep enough variation and options within your playbook, but if in a game you’re only utilizing 5-10 plays that’s pretty solid (and still more than probably 95% of 2K players).
If you’re playing online, I’d attempt to find plays starting from the same alignments to help disguise the plays you’re running. The same principles apply to these video game plays at the 7 key principles when designing a real basketball offense.
Within these 20 plays there are five or so horns sets and another five or so 5-out sets, but for the others the starting alignment maybe only is found with one or two plays. That will probably be good enough, since there probably aren’t many people out there scouting set plays on 2k. It also won’t matter at all playing the AI, so this is a solid set of 20 plays to start with.