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NBA 2K23 Tutorial: How to Master On-Ball Defense?

NBA 2K23 require skill to play effectively, and one of the essential skills is defending with the ball. In this tutorial, I will show you how to play on-ball defense in NBA2K23 and the benefits of playing on-ball that the computer can't give you. Along the way, you'll improve your defensive knowledge as a whole.


NBA 2K23 Tutorial: How to Master On-Ball Defense?


Getting Familiar With the Controls

You will use the left stick to move around in any direction to track the ball handler. The softer you hold it, the slower you will move in that given direction. Moving slowly will cause your defender not to put his foot on the ground as hard and get crossed up easily when changing directions.

You will hold the left trigger on your controller to get into a defensive stance. This will always keep your player facing forwards and less likely to overrun the ball handler when they attempt to change direction.

You can look at it like they're being disciplined and focused. So when the ball handler changes direction, the game won't send you flying when you try and go back the other way. The downside is holding the left trigger button limits the sideline-to-sideline speed that you will possess just holding it less thick and running around.

To sprint from your stance, you first let go of the left trigger and move and hold the left stick in your desired direction. Then hold the right trigger to sprint in the direction of your choice, which activates your pure sprint, and your player will run as fast as he can.


Guarding the Lines

When it becomes apparent that the ball handler is out of your reach and will beat you to the animation-triggering spots, it's time to be out, get out of your defensive stance, hold the right trigger, and sprint to cut them off the best you can. Knowing the lines you must guard will help you tremendously against ball handlers trying to get into the paint.

You can't let them beat you to these spots. If they do, their animations will trigger, and the bad stuff will happen. Do you ever notice somebody driving and pumping fake around the free-throw line? It's usually because you beat them to the spot and deny their animation from triggering.

When you can no longer guard the lines, it's time to get into sprint mode, where you can turn seemingly wide-open layups and dunks into contested shots. And if you can catch back up successfully, hold the left trigger again to get back into a defensive stance to wall them off and prevent you from getting crossed up if they change directions on fast breaks.

Knowing your aim indicates that sprinting can help lessen the moment's panic. In this situation, I like to add a light jog I mentioned earlier. So the ball handler commits to a direction before I cut them off from reaching the spots I need to defend. I'm lightly jogging to avoid putting my foot on the ground and slowing them down when the ball handler can instantly change directions.


Advantages of Playing On-Ball

One of the biggest advantages of playing on-ball that the computer can't replicate is you take advantage of your opponent being predictable in what they do. They always come up the court in the middle, attack their ball handler, and see what happens after a rebound. Are they looking down the court for a hail mary pass? This is when you can sneak in and get a steal as they run right into your path.

Leveraging your ability to see behind you and predict where your opponent is about to go is also important. And while you can't track a human opponent beat for beat, you can tell earlier when you're beaten and it's time to get into sprint mode.


Defending the Pass Back

Once you get the ball handler to give up the ball on the perimeter, when you get them to pick up their dribble or deny their path initially, and they pass it, there's a high chance without them thinking they're going to pass it right back on some. This is an opportunity to get a turnover for yourself, so it doesn't hurt to hit the steal button once they pass it.


Switching On-the-Fly

If you want a specific player on the ball handler on the fly, you can do so by hitting the left bumper on your controller, then the icon of the player you want to change their assignment to. Then, select the icon of the player you want your defender to switch on to, and this assignment will activate on the next possession.



Playing on-ball defense is an essential skill that requires practice and patience. Following the tips outlined in this guide, you can become a better defender and take your NBA 2K23 game to the next level. Combine different techniques, guard the lines, and practice regularly to improve your defensive skills.

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