This is one of the dev insights for NBA 2K12 that I was most interested in, the Post Game. In real life the Post Game is a vital part of the game but in recent years the post game has all but faded from NBA 2K as it has gotten more difficult to fluidly execute an effective post game within the flow of your offense. We highlighted this when we talked about what we wanted to see in NBA 2K12 a while back and it seems 2K Sports agreed. It seems that the 2K Sports team understood that the functionality needed some upgrading and they wanted to make post play more accessible and better balanced.
In terms of the mechanics of the post game, 2K Sports went back to the drawing board and decided to reshape the mechanics to make the post game more accessible. The first change they made was change the button that players would use to initiate a post backdown and they adjusted it so that you can press that same button to get out of a backdown.
As any of us who played NBA 2K11 know all too well, one of the biggest issues with post play was basic movement. You only had one way to go and it just got awkward and made the post game less attractive to use, in fact most people dropped it from their repertoire completely. In 2K12, they made a significant change that allows you to move around the court in a back-to-the-basket stance in any direction you wish, either with a defender on you or not. This gives you a whole lot more flexibility to dominate in the post with guys like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum to name a few.
There are tons of moves that you can perform while in the post. Some were carried over from 2K11 and others are new for this year.
Drives – Last year, you first had to face the basket in order drive towards the hoop from a post position. In 2K12, you can now start drives with your back to the basket. The Drive to Basket move will take your player directly to the hoop, good for finishing strong at the rim. The Aggressive Drive to Key and regular Drive to Key moves will take your player into the key area and can be combined with running floaters/hooks/fades to score while on the move. Drives are most effective when you’ve got clear space in the direction you’re driving and when you’ve got a quickness advantage on the post defender.
Spins – You were able to spin out of the post in 2K11 but they have added a new Drive to Spin move. This move quickly fakes an inside drive before spinning towards the basket. As with the Drive move, you should only spin when you’ve got a clear area over your back and when you feel you’ve got a quickness advantage on the defender guarding you.
Faceups – Like last year, you’ll be able to pull your player out of the post to face the basket without using a dribble. This is a great move for players who are at a weight or strength disadvantage in the post, or for players who have nice mid-range shots or quick drives. New to NBA 2K12 though is the fact that you’ll be able to choose whether you want to use what they call an ‘Inside Faceup’ or an ‘Outside Faceup’, based on the direction you have your directional stick when pressing the Faceup button. The Inside Faceup will have your post player turn his body into the defender to face the basket (think Kevin Garnett). The Outside Faceup will turn his body away from the defender. Both are equally effective and should be mostly used to change up your moves to keep the defenders guessing.
Dribble Disengages –Similar to the Faceup moves where you face the basket following the move, the Dribble Disengage moves do the same, except you’re performing them from a dribble. The first move is the simple Dribble Disengage, which essentially turns your player 180 degrees to face the basket while maintaining his dribble. The second move is the Stepback, where the player jabs his inside foot into the defender and follows it up with a hop back to create space. Both moves are a quick way to create potential space to get off a jumper or drive by a slower defender. You can even queue the shots or drives during the moves for quicker results.
Aggressive Backdown – Sometimes, you may want to drop your shoulder and shove the defender back to get you closer to the basket. In 2K12 they have introduced the Aggressive Backdown mechanic that allows you to basically beast mode the defender. You can loop one after another to get deeper position for that potential Shaq-esque throwdown directly under the basket.
Clutch Moves – Clutch moves are essentially “fakes”, sizeups and clear space moves that can be performed. The moves under the Clutch Move umbrella are the Drive, Spin and Shoulder Fakes as well as the Lean Back and Create Space moves. The Drive and Spin Fakes are fairly self-explanatory. They basically start the Drive or Spin move but come right back to the normal post stance. The Shoulder Fake is a quick twitch of the shoulder while maintaining the dribble. While holding the ball, the Lean Back move leans the ball-handler’s upper body into the defender and the Create Space move pushes the ball-handler’s rear-end into the defender. All clutch moves are best used to change up the post game and possibly force the defender into relaxing or pushing their stick in a bad direction (something we’ll get into in the Defense section). The beauty of the clutch moves are that you can combo them into other moves or shots. For example, you can fake a drive into the key and then queue a spin towards the baseline or you can fake a spin towards the baseline and follow it up with a queued fade away.
If you don’t like the result of the move you’re in the middle of performing (maybe a defender is locking you up), you can press the post engage button again to queue up an engagement that keeps you in the post once the move ends. This can allow you to quickly attempt another post move.
After analyzing some of the greatest post players in history like Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale, it became blatantly aware that the type of shots you could do out of the post was extremely limited. So they decided that they would keep all the moves that were in NBA 2K11 but changed the mechanics for them to be more user-friendly and then added some new shots to take it to the next level.
Hooks and Fades – Two of the types of shots that changed from last year were the hooks and fades. The main difference is that you can now decide which one you want, rather than relying solely on the distance to the basket and tendencies of the player shooting. One of the main reasons for this change was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Here’s a guy who was willing to pull out a hook shot as far as 15-18 feet, something you couldn’t do in 2K11. Now, you can perform a hook from this far so long as you’re aiming your Shot Stick towards the basket. To the right of the hoop would be a right hook and to the left would be a left hook. You can also perform a fadeaway extremely close to the hoop if you wish, unlike 2K11, so you can now be more Nowitzki-like when attempting a post shot from close to the basket.
Hop Shots – If you really want to create some space on your post shot, a Hop Shot is a great way to do so. This allows your player to hop step away from the defender and basket before turning to shoot. It’s a beautiful move-to-shot that only the more skilled post players can knock down regularly.
Stepback Shot – A combination of the Stepback Move and Hop Shot, the Stepback Shot lets a player jab step into the defender before hopping back to shoot. It is the same mechanic as the hop shot except you’re pulling the Shot Stick directly away from the hoop.
Dropstep Layup / Dunk – This is a move that was in last year’s game that is now grouped in with the shots. Your player will put the ball down and either hop into the lane or step towards the baseline for the shot, depending on which way you’re holding your Shot Stick relative to the rim.
Up-and-Under – The mechanic to pull this off last year was far too difficult even for experienced players. Now it’s as simple as moving your Shot Stick one way and then the opposite direction. In 2K12, they added the ability to break out of any of the post shots listed above simply by letting go of the Shot Stick before the player starts the shot portion of the move. You can then turn that post move into an up-and-under by moving the Shot Stick the opposite way. For example, you start a fade away on the block by moving your Shot Stick towards the baseline. Before the player shoots, you can then move the Shot Stick the opposite way towards the key to fake the fade away and step into the key for the up-and-under shot.
So as you can see 2K Sports definitely amped up the post game this year but this has to have you wondering how in the hell will you defend all these new moves? They focused on Defense specifically in another Dev insight but they did give the highlights.
There are three ways to defend post moves in 2K12: anticipate, counter and steal.
Anticipate – Let’s say you’re playing against your buddy and you recognize that he continually spins baseline with Robert Parish. ‘Kevin Willis isn’t that bad of a post defender, right?’ You may have been able to force a few neutral results but for the most part he’s getting where he wants to go. Luckily for you, you’ve now got the ability to anticipate the move before he performs it. In 2K12, you can press your control stick in the direction you believe he’s going to go and it will force a ‘defensive win’ that will make your buddy rethink his go-to move. Essentially, his spin won’t gain any ground and you’ve rendered it basically useless. Spins, Drives, Aggressive Backdowns and Dribble Disengage moves all have the ability to be stopped before they’re started, forcing your opponent into expanding their post game. This is a great tool, but be careful because if you get it wrong it will result in a clear offensive win which gives your opponent the opportunity to take it to the rim for some serious nastiness. It’s a major risk/reward type of decision. If you’re playing against a well-versed post player you might be best waiting until the move starts and then countering it.
Counter – In 2K11 you may have found yourself defending a post move by pressing your LSTICK in a direction that you felt might be shoving the ball-handler out of where he was trying to go. It felt like the right thing to do, right? Unfortunately, the result of the move was already chosen so your reactionary pushing and shoving meant nothing. This year though the control is in your hands and you can turn a potentially bad result into a more desirable one simply by reacting to the move you’re defending. There’s a bit of a learning curve here, as you only have a certain amount of time to counter a move once is starts, so be on your toes.
Steal – As with 2K11, you’re also given the ability to potentially strip the offensive player of the ball during a post move. In NBA 2K12 they now look at your timing as well as some ability checks to determine the result. In 2K11, there were no negative consequences to users spamming the steal button. New to 2K12 are what they call ‘steal fails’. Each post move gives you a small window during which a steal attempt can be successful. That same window is available for failing. Steal fails are chosen based on ability checks, so if you’ve got a guy who is not good at stealing from the post, steer clear from that strategy. Otherwise, you risk giving your opponent a clear lane to the basket.
That’s it folks and I have to admit I am excited that the post game might actually be a factor this year instead of what it has been the last few years which is an afterthought. A few years ago, if you had a solid post game in NBA 2K you could really counter a player that wanted to play a more uptempo style game. This year it seems like that dynamic is back where if like me you prefer to be more methodical in your gameplay and would rather slow things down and outplay your opponent rather than get into a shootout with them. Something tells me I am going to have to spend a lot more time in the lab and Training Camp to master these new moves and perhaps this is the year that I finally convert to utilizing the shot stick full time versus the old alternate configuration…maybe.
NBA 2K12 is in stores in just a few weeks, October 4th, 2011.