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NBA 2K Mobile Expert Guide (2021 Update): 14 Tips & Tricks to Win More Games

2K’s mobile games unit is arguably best known for its sports titles, such as WWE SuperCard, and just in case you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, the company also has a mobile version of its best-selling NBA 2K series for iPhones and Android devices. This year’s version of NBA 2K Mobile has been out for some time, and it promises non-stop action across different game modes, with all 30 teams available and hundreds of players, including those from the 2021-22 season and a good number of legends and retired players who could further bolster your unit and improve your chances of winning.

nba 2k mobile expert tips

As we mentioned in our first guide, NBA 2K Mobile is packed with so many features and has so much depth, which shouldn’t be surprising as it’s a mobile version of the most popular basketball video game for PlayStation, Xbox, PC, and other platforms. That’s why one guide isn’t enough, and in this second of two NBA 2K Mobile strategy guides, we shall be looking at other game modes and features, taking a look at some of the more advanced controls you can use during a game, and the other ways you can unlock new players and strengthen your lineup.

As such, this is a guide designed for intermediate to advanced players, so read on if you’re looking to win more games and conquer even stronger opponents in Seasons and all the other game modes!

1. Take Part In The Limited-Time Events!

Once your MyTeam reaches 500 PWR, you’ll be able to take part in the limited-time events that usually last about one to two days and differ in terms of mechanics, rewards and other aspects. These events can help you win more rewards, as there’s a special section in the Stat Line menu where you can redeem coins and Stat Points for completing event-related objectives. So what can you expect from the special events, and how do you play them?

As of this writing, the most recent event completed was Domination, which works in a similar way to Pokemon Go — if you still remember that game. Specifically, the concept here is defeating opponents in order to defend your arena of choice, much like Pokemon Go players engage in gym battles so that the character they chose can defend that gym and earn rewards in the process for the duration that they’re in charge of the gym. Games in Domination last one period, and the score at the time the game starts will largely depend on your PWR and that of the opponent you’re hoping to beat.

If you defeat your opponent, you will earn control of the arena, and depending on the arena you’ve taken control of, your team may receive bonuses to a certain extent, increasing their PWR and giving you an extra edge whenever another player chooses the arena and tries to seize control of it. (You can also earn more event points depending on the arena’s bonuses!) The longer you have control of the arena, and the more arenas you take control of, the more points you can earn once the event concludes!

nba 2k mobile gauntlet event

During Halloween weekend, NBA 2K Mobile launched the Gauntlet event, which is, for the most part, self-explanatory — defeat a progressively tougher series of opponents to earn more points. During the course of the event, gameplay was similar to standard Season Mode games, where you have a pair of two-minute periods to defeat the other team. The event also offered players a chance to spend more event-specific Stamina (which is much more limited than regular Stamina, but also refills over time) for double the event points. Scoring enough points promised a Halloween Chris Webber card for the first milestone, though this may differ depending on the event.

Last among our examples is Fantasy Finals, which, at the time of writing, is set to kick off in about a day’s time. Like Domination, you will only be allowed to play one period, meaning the last one of the game. Team scores at the start of each Fantasy Finals game will depend on your PWR and that of your opponent, and looking at the Rewards section, it looks like you’ll have a chance to win more “throwback” cards featuring players from previous seasons (or players who are still active but playing for a different team during the season in question) — these include a 2016 Dwight Howard, a 1995 Clyde Drexler, and a 2001 Mark Jackson, all from the Hometown Heroes collection.

All limited-time events in NBA 2K Mobile come with the option to use Point Doublers, which can be purchased with coins at the store or redeemed for free, as well as Style Bonuses for event points, which are given if your team features a player who’s part of the collection related to the event. (For example, we got Style Bonuses during the Halloween Gauntlet event for having a pair of Halloween-themed cards — a 2015 Mike Conley and a 1994 Horace Grant.)

2. Earn More Fans And Rewards By Playing Head-To-Head

Head-to-Head Mode is the final mode that gets unlocked, and it will specifically become available once your best MyTeam lineup has an overall PWR of 600 or better. As the name of the mode suggests, this is the mode where you can challenge those “real players,” or other human players from around the world, and for best results, the game suggests having a Wi-Fi connection.

We would, however, add that your Wi-Fi connection should ideally be strong and stable — not only do you lose if you get kicked out of a game due to connectivity issues, but you may also suffer from latency issues that make it hard to take good shots or make good plays in general. Winning games in Head-to-Head adds to your number of Fans, and as you earn more Fans, you’ll be able to enjoy more perks in the mode that could help you make the most out of it — and even improve your chances of performing well in every facet of Head-to-Head.

Losing games, meanwhile, equates to a loss of Fans. Once again, the basic rules include two halves with two minutes each, though there’s no team foul limit, and ties can happen — you don’t have to play an overtime period and you won’t lose any fans, but you won’t gain Fans or get a reward pack either.

Before hitting the Find Opponent button, you can choose to add anywhere from one to three Boosts — initially, you’ll only be able to equip one, and the only available options would be Prop Insurance, which is a free boost that reduces the loss of Fans after each defeat, and Hype Inducer, which increases the number of Fans you can gain after a win.

nba 2k mobile head-to-head mode

That latter Boost is worth 10 coins, so you may want to use this sparingly. Once you reach certain Fans milestones, starting with 75 Fans, you will unlock new slots for Boosts — that’s 75 for the second slot and 2,400 for the third. Likewise, the types of Boosts in your Boost Inventory will also become more plentiful and varied as you reach these milestones — for instance, upon reaching 75 Fans, you can use Jam Master, which increases the chance of scoring on layups and dunks, or Fortune Enhancer, which improves the odds of getting higher-quality reward packs for winning.

Speaking of Reward Packs, you can expect to win one of these — usually, you’ll end up with common packs, but there’s a chance you may get something rarer — as a reward for victory. The game will initially allow you to have three packs queued up, and just as it is in other games with this mechanic, you’ll need to manually open each pack and wait some time before they open automatically. (You can pay coins to immediately open them, but that isn’t recommended unless you’ve got a ton of them.) Reaching 900 Fans unlocks a fourth slot for packs, and reaching 2,400 gets you the fifth, and final slot.

One word of warning for those who play Head-to-Head — we’ve observed that the matchmaking system does seem to have some flaws! While you will generally be matched up against teams with a similar number of Fans, which is good, it seems that the game does not vet potential matches for their team PWR. We learned this the hard way when our 633 PWR team got blasted by a team loaded with super-rare, themed players with 3,000-plus PWR ratings across the board!

3. Use The Pick Button To Free Yourself Up

Due to the inherent limitations faced by sports games designed for mobile devices, the play-calling mechanic in NBA 2K Mobile is rudimentary compared to what you’d get in the game’s console and PC versions. However, this year’s version allows you to set picks, or more accurately, have other players set picks for the player who’s handling the ball. Simply put, the player setting a pick, or a screen, moves in front of a defender in order to free up the ball handler to take a shot, pass the ball, or move to a safer part of the court where they can see the floor better.

While it is technically possible to win without using the Pick button while on offense, it’s better if you use it on occasion instead of trying to power through defenders all the time. Choosing the latter option is usually a shortcut to needless turnovers, as this leaves you vulnerable to getting the ball stolen from you. So instead of trying to force the offense, try using a pick instead to get that clearer look at the basket or better chance to pass to someone near the basket.

nba 2k mobile pick button

And while it may not be as common as it is in the actual NBA, you can even call pick-and-roll plays in NBA 2K Mobile — hit the Pick button, wait till the player setting the pick rolls toward the basket (if he does), then pass the ball to him for an easy two points. (Alternately, that player could position himself for a jump shot, usually from outside, in which case it would be known as a pick-and-pop — that’s also possible to pull off in the game if your lineup has big men who can shoot the ball!)

One last thing to remember about setting picks — there is a cool down time of a few seconds after hitting the Pick button, so you may need to wait it out a bit if you aren’t able to capitalize on the screen that your teammate set for you!

4. Make Use Of Double Teams, But Not Too Often!

When playing defense, you’ll notice the Double button on the bottom right of the screen, right next to the Defend, Steal, and Block buttons. Obviously, tapping this button will allow you to set up a double team on the opposing player who’s handling the ball, and this can be very useful if the player you’re double-teaming happens to be a deadly shooter and/or a pinpoint passer.

nba 2k mobile double team

However, you should be careful not to overdo this, as it’s also possible the player you’re double-teaming will find a wide-open player for an easy two — or even three — points. By the time that open player has the ball, it would, far more often than not, be too late for you to catch up with the player and provide ample defense to stop him.

That all said, it’s best to stick to man-to-man defense on most occasions, though if you’ve got a comfortable lead over your opponent, you do have the option to practice your double-teams so you know how to pull them off correctly when you’re actually trying to stop a deadly offensive weapon on the opposing side.

5. You Can Still Control Your Players In Auto Mode

In our first guide, we strongly suggested that it’s best to play in Manual mode if you’re facing a more difficult opponent in any mode of NBA 2K Mobile. However, we also understand that not everyone will have the same learning curve on offense, defense, or both, especially when the competition gets tougher.

nba 2k mobile auto mode

Yes, it is true that leaving things to the AI could result in some boneheaded plays, but if you yourself are prone to making these plays for one reason or another, the good news is that you can still control your players even if you’re using Auto mode. And we would actually suggest combining both modes of control if you’re still trying to figure things out against opponents with a similar or better team PWR rating.

The downside here is that you’ll need to be quicker than the AI if you’re trying to pass the ball to a specific player, or shoot the ball from a certain location. Also, on both ends of the court, the virtual joystick is disabled, so you cannot run toward a certain player or a specific point on the court. However, if you’re able to act quickly enough on offense and/or defense while letting the AI lead the way, this could be an effective strategy when trying to outplay a stronger team, regardless of the mode you’re playing.

6. Hang On To Your Better Players Even If They’re No Longer On Your Default Lineup

We explained in the beginner’s guide that you can use your lower-PWR player cards, including those that may be of Silver rarity, as fodder for leveling up your better players. That remains true as we move on to more advanced tips, but as you may have found out while playing some limited-time events, it pays to have as deep a roster as possible!

In specific, you may have had a difficult time winning control of an Arena with your second-tier lineup had you gone ahead and sacrificed Gold players who were no longer on your MyTeam, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Those Gold-tier players (or themed players) aren’t easy to come about, so we advise keeping them on your roster in the event you may need them in the future.

nba 2k mobile myteam

In the MyTeam section, you’ll see that you can maintain up to five different teams that can be utilized at any given time — just choose Select on the lower right of the screen to make that team your default one. By scrolling right to move from one team to the next, then hitting Auto Update, the game will automatically select the next five best players at their position, then the next five, and so on until you’ve filled out all five teams with players.

Naturally, you don’t necessarily need to have all five teams filled out, but it’s always a good idea to visit the MyTeam section to build some backup teams from time to time, especially if you’ve just gotten an especially rare, high-PWR card. You don’t want to sacrifice that player needlessly, because once a player’s been used as level-up material, there’s no more turning back or undoing the process!

7. How To Unlock New Gear And Equip It On Your Players

Much like many sports simulation games that have been scaled down for the mobile gaming experience, NBA 2K Mobile has a lot of role-playing game elements — we’ll discuss more of them as we push forward in this guide, but the one we’d like to focus on now is the process of unlocking new gear. Gear would usually mean shoes that you can equip on your players, and these video game equivalents of real-life basketball kicks can give your players statistical boosts and improve your team’s overall PWR!

nba 2k mobile gear

Each piece of gear has its own rarity, with rarer or higher-tier shoes resulting in greater bonuses, but even if you’re talking about common gear, we should mention that gear also comes with position- and/or team-specific restrictions. Most shoes can only be worn by a point guard, power forward, or whatnot, while others can only be equipped on a player who plays for a specific team — you cannot, for instance, equip gear with a Phoenix Suns restriction on someone who doesn’t play for the Suns! (Or didn’t play for the Suns in the season they’re representing on the card.)

Typically, you can unlock new gear by spending Standard or Elite Gear Keys, which you can get via draft picks or by opening packs, such as the ones you earn through the Drills or the ones you can redeem for free at the Store. Earn ten of each type of key and you can redeem new gear by going to Store, then to Foundation, then choosing Standard or Elite for a new draw. Gear can also be won at the end of an event, usually as a consolation prize — these would usually be common items that don’t have much of an impact on your player’s attributes, but a little boost is better than none at all!

8. What Do Sanitizers Do And How Can You Earn Them?

You’ve probably been wondering a bit about Sanitizers, which you may have redeemed on occasion while using your Draft Picks. It may seem difficult to figure out what they’re really for, but you’ll want to keep enough of them handy so that you can replace your gear. Just like in RPGs, this is to discourage changing equipment willy-nilly, which can give players an unfair advantage at times, so if you acquire a rarer piece of gear that could suit one of your top players, use a Sanitizer in order to swap one shoe for another.

nba 2k mobile sanitizer

Aside from the Draft Board, Sanitizers can also be found in packs on occasion, and there may be some instances where they are available in the Store as part of a special offer. You may not need them if you’re a newer player who hasn’t played too many events or redeemed too many pieces of gear for your team, but over time, these will become more and more important when it comes to maintaining and optimizing your MyTeam lineups.

9. Upgrading Players And Knowing Their Abilities

Aside from leveling up your players, you can also upgrade their star ratings, which would require you to have one identical card with the same rarity and star rating, or choose two different cards, again with the same rarity and star rating. Now why would you want to do this when you can simply level them up?

nba 2k mobile player upgrade

To answer that question, you certainly wouldn’t want to do this if you’re working on a Bronze player. But if you’re trying to improve a Silver player or better, it will certainly help if you upgrade their star rating so you can level them up even more — a one-star card can only be leveled up to level 15, but getting it up to two stars allows you to level up to level 30, and three stars up to level 45. Save those Bronze cards for level-up fodder; anything better than that should definitely be upgraded if you have the resources available.

In addition to player upgrades, we should also touch base on their Abilities — these are available for Silver rarity players and above (but only for select players), and normally come in the form of boosts — for example, Clutch Time increases a player’s PWR by 15 percent every Sunday (UTC), so if you want to truly make the most out of that player’s on-court skills, you’ll want to have him on your team when playing games on a Sunday.

10. Momentum Can Be A Thing, So Don’t Panic If You Make A Mistake!

It seems to be quite prevalent nowadays in sports games, if it wasn’t already a thing in earlier simulation titles where the action is supposed to be as realistic as possible. Although it isn’t implicitly stated anywhere in NBA 2K Mobile, momentum can play a factor in the chances of winning a game, may it be against an AI or a human-controlled opponent, and any fan should know how important the “Big Mo” is — shots that seem impossible to sink will swish into the hoop if momentum is on your side, easy tip-ins will roll right off the rim if it isn’t. It’s what propels come-from-behind victories, and on the other side of things, it’s what snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

nba 2k mobile momentum

How does momentum work in NBA 2K Mobile? We’ve observed that it can often be negatively triggered by a careless, oftentimes unforced turnover, by an easy miss (or maybe two in a row), or a series of ticky-tacky fouls that end up putting your team in penalty (again, that’s just two fouls per period) and sending your opponent to the line. Meanwhile, a three-point attempt that hits nothing but net, an empathic fastbreak dunk, or an opponent turnover could all be events that propel the positive kind of momentum. If the Big Mo is working for you, then ride it for what it’s worth, but don’t get too careless and overconfident.

But if it isn’t, your best bet is to stay frosty, focus on taking only the shots you know you can take, and doubling down on the defensive end to prevent your opponent from scoring. It also helps to switch to Auto if you’re having difficulty on either end of the floor — sometimes, leaving things up to the AI, for all its faults, may be more reliable than insisting on playing the game despite your obvious frustration. (And just like in real life, frustration can negatively impact your performance while playing the game!)

11. What Happens If You Lose In Season Mode?

Sometimes, there really isn’t anything you can do when it comes to bad momentum ruining things for you and your team. It’s the breaks of the game, as they say. The ball is round — sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down. But before we drop even more sports cliches on you, let’s take a look at what happens when you lose a game in Season Mode. That’s something you probably won’t have to worry too much about in the first few seasons where it’s much easier to win games, but once you reach Season 4 or 5, you may have to prepare for the eventuality of losing — unless, of course, you got lucky and have some 1,000-PWR players or better on your team.

losing in seasons mode in nba 2k mobile

You’re probably familiar with what happens when you lose a half — you only get one Courtside Point and one draft pick as a consolation prize. (For ties, you get five Courtside Points and two draft picks.) If you actually lose the game, regardless whether you won or tied in either half, you’ll get a similar consolation reward of one CP and one draft pick each. Unfortunately, NBA 2K Mobile doesn’t allow players to replay lost games — your only option is to restart the season, or, if you’re in a new season, to go back to the one where you lost and start from there once again.

It’s not really the most convenient thing to do, and we don’t see the need to replay games you’ve already won, so we’d suggest pushing forward despite the loss. Either way, you still get draft picks, and it wouldn’t make much sense to play for a final, season-end reward that might not be as good as the one you can expect to receive for completing the current season.

12. Keep Playing More Season Games To Earn More Courtside Pass Rewards

In addition to all the other methods we mentioned in this guide and in the previous one, Courtside Pass is another feature that allows you to earn various types of rewards, from coins to collectibles to rare player packs. In order to qualify for these rewards, however, you are going to have to be quite the committed NBA 2K Mobile player, as the game will require you to reach a certain number of Courtside Points per day in order to keep things going and qualify for the next reward.

As a reminder, you get ten Courtside Points for winning a half, five points for a tie, and one point for a loss — this applies mainly to Season Mode, so the important thing is to keep playing season games whenever you can if you want to get those rare player packs and other tempting rewards that are available on the seventh day onward.

nba 2k mobile courtside pass

You can pay some real money to get a Gold Pass, which offers even better rewards, but the fact that you paid actual money for this pass makes it even more important to be a dedicated NBA 2K Mobile player who focuses mainly on Season Mode over the other modes available in the game.

Unfortunately, if you aren’t able to meet the required number of Courtside Points, your totals will reset and you’ll be sent back to Day 1, forcing you to repeat the whole process of playing season games. Granted, the option is there to switch difficulty, so you can go back to previous seasons and grind for Courtside Points by beating up on much weaker opponents, but the caveat is that any progress in your current season will be lost. So if you wish to use this grinding method, make sure to do it at a point where you haven’t made any progress in the highest season you’ve unlocked so far.

13. Use Your Collectibles To Unlock Higher-End Players

The Collections feature in NBA 2K Mobile serves as another place where you can manage your players, gear, and currencies, but chances are you’ll likely be visiting this menu most often for the Catalog sub-menu. In here, you can view all the available players in the game, starting with those that are part of a specific set, such as Hometown Heroes, Halloween, Most Improved, and others. Scroll down and you’ll see the high rarity cards in the Foundation section (Emerald and Sapphire rarity), and move further down and you’ll see a good number of Gold cards.

As you may have surmised through the draft picks you’ve collected while playing the game, those Eastern Conference and Western Conference Collectibles, as well as the Gold Rings you earned will be used as crafting materials to “create” these players, though there are other, rarer Collectibles that you’ll need a lot of in order to unlock those that belong to a certain limited-edition set or collection, e.g. Hometown Heroes.

nba 2k mobile player abilities

As you can occasionally get Gold players through the Draft Board or maybe earn them via the Stat Line and Courtside achievements, just to name some means, that begs the question — should you use your crafting materials to unlock a Gold player once you’ve gotten enough of them, or should you bide your time and save them for those limited-edition players we mentioned above due to their 1,000-plus PWR ratings? The answer would depend on where you’re currently at in the game.

If you’ve got a team PWR in the 500-600 range for one or both of your top two lineups and have some weaknesses at certain positions, then you should, by all means, try to address those weaknesses by creating one of the available Gold players. However, if you’re closing in on the 800-900 PWR range or already there, that’s when you can play the long game and hang on to your Eastern/Western Conference Collectibles and Gold Rings and wait until you’ve got enough set-specific Collectibles to get that highly-rated, super-rare player you need to take your team to the next level.

14. Get Social And Join A Crew!

Last, but not least in NBA 2K Mobile’s game modes is Crews, which combines the MyPlayer feature of NBA 2K’s console and PC versions with 3-on-3/streetball modes from NBA 2K and other popular basketball video games and the social element of forming or joining a guild. At some point during your first few days playing NBA 2K Mobile, you’ll be prompted to create your own MyPlayer — unlike the console/PC versions, you cannot edit any specific player attributes or choose their height, weight, or whether they shoot left- or right-handed.

It will all boil down to aesthetic customization, meaning choosing your MyPlayer’s hair, skin color, and other physical features. You can choose specific jerseys, shoes, or other types of gear that offer a statistical boost to your MyPlayer, though these will cost you some coins — otherwise, you’ll start out with a MyPlayer with 500 PWR.

After creating your MyPlayer, you can then form your own Crew or join an existing one — when creating a Crew, you can select a Private one where you can specifically invite your friends, or choose a Public one that allows anybody to join, just as long as their team PWR is of a certain rating. (You can choose “Any” to open your Crew up to anyone regardless of PWR.) The same principles apply when joining, only reversed — you need to make sure that your PWR matches up with the minimum requirement, and of course, you can only join those crews designated as Public.

nba 2k mobile 3-on-3 game

Once you’ve formed or joined a Crew, you can play 3-on-3 games against other Crews — these are limited to one six-minute period or 12 points, whichever comes first, and just like in the other modes, it is possible to end the game with a win, loss, or tie. Regardless of the result, you will earn XP, which allows you to level up, and MyPlayer Points (MP), which can be used to upgrade your player’s Archetype and purchase equipment at the Crews Store.

If you’re wondering about Archetypes, fear not, because we’ve got you covered — an Archetype is basically a template of attributes that determines the strengths and weaknesses of your MyPlayer on the court. The default Archetype is Playground Contender, which can be best described as a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Certain attributes, such as 3-Point Shooting and Agility, are higher than others, but you’ll notice that all attributes range from 2 to 4, with none of them any higher or lower. You’ll initially need 20 MPs in order to upgrade one attribute, so use your MyPlayer Points wisely!

Leveling up will also allow you to change from one Archetype to the next — at level 6, you’ll unlock Defending Shooter, which is pretty much a 3-and-D specialist, level 7 will allow you to choose Inside Man, which is a player who specializes in scoring in the paint, and so on. There are many, many more Archetypes, with the last one, The Fantasy, unlocked once you reach level 58. This Archetype represents the ultimate all-around superstar, just as the name suggests, so keep on playing — and winning  — games with your Crew in order to unlock more Archetypes and gain more freedom to customize your MyPlayer!

There you have it! This wraps up our expert guide for NBA 2K Mobile. Have you discovered any other tips or tricks that we haven’t mentioned in this guide? If so, feel free to drop us a line in the comment box!