Can Playing NBA2k Increase Basketball IQ?

Yes, if you play 5v5 individual player controlled games (ProAM 5v5), you will simulate the basketball experience and learn and improve your basketball intelligence. 

NBA2k winning is smart

NBA2k in their MyCareer gamemode has playable 5v5 online, where you will control 1 player on the court, and 9 other people control 1 player as well. Essentially, it gives you the authentic 5v5 experience you would get in real life on the game and it is authentic.

5v5 NBA2k

What does NBA2k simulate to learn the intelligence of a 5v5 basketball game?

NBA2k teaches you the intricacies of the game of basketball that are required at the highest level. If you want to win games in NBA2k, you are forced to learn basketball thick and thin. 

For example, defending the pick and roll with a good shooter and a big is very complex. You will experience attempting to defend it firsthand. The experience will allow you figure it out through trial and error.

You will learn to hedge and play sides on the screen, where if the shooter goes to your side, to pick up. The other player or other defender picks up the roller. Pick and roll defense and the different scenarios it entails is thoroughly explored through gameplay.

Learning through experience

NBA2k Gameplay Example

On the offensive end, you learn the importance of setting off ball screens and how to time your cuts to the basket. Also, you learn how to space to allow your teammates to go 1 on 1 and not effectively be double teamed. 

You also learn how to react to defenses when you are double teamed to find the open man. It may be just reacting to their on ball defense and trying to score.

Weirdly enough, if you find yourself playing real basketball after investing many hours into NBA2k 5v5, you will notice a big difference in your basketball instincts. Seamlessly, you may know where the ball is going on defense, and where the ball should be going on offense. Finding people on the floor becomes second nature.

NBA2k makes you get better at on court communication.

NBA2k can also teach you communication skills that can apply during a real basketball game. If you are playing with your friends online, chances are you all are on a team communicating. The same thing applies to the real game of basketball. You are forced to learn the skills of communicating switches or executing strategies of zone defense. 


Implementing and executing strategies is a big part of basketball IQ, particularly running different defensive schemes and different plays on offense. For example, learning the different sets of zone defenses, and the different reactions depending on where the ball is can help when you actually play that defense in a real world 5v5 setting.

Running plays can be visualized and utilized firsthand. Running a motion offense, where everyone fills in and moves off the ball can be super hard to grasp from an explanation alone, but NBA2k gives you a birds eye view. It allows you to grasp intricate concepts of basketball by understanding those concepts through gameplay.

Shot selection is another thing NBA2k can teach you. In the game, you are penalized severely for taking difficult shots, as they have a very low percentage of going in the basket.

Contested Jumper 2k

NBA2k teaches you the statistical aspect of basketball.

Hard shots will not go in, and very high percentage shots will be rewarded with a high chance of success. 

Even small things like passing the ball are given a learning curve that can translate to real life basketball IQ.

There are 3 passing options, the lob pass, the bounce pass, and the normal direct pass. Those passing options work best in given situations, and you may turn the ball over if you pick the wrong passing style. 

playing your role

Building your own players with strengths and weaknesses can force you to play within a role.

Most basketball players have a specific skill set that is not universally good at everything. Making a MyPlayer with a specific skill, like shooting for example, will allow you to reflect on your game. If shooting is something you are really good at in real life basketball, it can show you what the role of the shooter entails in a 5v5 setting. 

What does a shooter role entail?

The shooter role involves spacing the floor, always being ready to shoot, and moving off the ball. The job is to get open from the three point line and the midrange. But the role also has its boundaries, which is not attacking the basket without a wide open lane. Also, try not to be on the ball too much, as those are not your skills, nor is your teammates asking that of you.


NBA2k teaches you to play your own role.

Unselfish basketball may be the key for any level of improvement in basketball IQ. Basketball is a team sport after all and your teammates are your backbone. You need them. To optimize winning, everyone needs to play their role and trust one another.

teammates or bust

trusting teammates

NBA2k forces you to trust your teammates.

Basketball IQ increases the more you play the game. NBA2k allows you to play basketball without actually playing basketball in real life. What makes it great is a normal person can only play basketball 2-3 hours at most a day. However, you can play basketball as long as you want in NBA2k. Therefore, you can hone your basketball IQ skills without having a fatigue threshold limiting your basketball IQ potential gains. 

NBA2k may have issues with its animation reliant system, and the microtransactions, but it does one thing better than any other. NBA2k simulates basketball. If you want to simulate basketball scenarios and sharpen your basketball IQ, NBA2k is that tool. It shines best in its 5v5 player controlled game modes. 

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