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The Sports Desk – 10 Tips For NBA 2K17's MyCareer Mode

by Matthew Kato on Sep 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM

It's another awesome year for NBA 2K17, and another title chock full of innovating modes. MyCareer has been tweaked after last year's controversial entry, but the road for your created character is still a hard one.

This week, Game Informer managing editor Matt Bertz (read his review of the game here) dispenses some useful tips to help you to greatness in NBA 2K 17's MyCareer.

In case you missed the review last week, NBA 2K17 is a very good game. Perhaps the best sports sim to come out this console generation. One of the most played modes of this popular game is MyCareer, which puts you in control of a highly touted prospect trying to take the NBA by storm. Each year, developer Visual Concepts tweaks the formula of how users go about building their legacy, both through narrative and via the various player upgrades available.

To give you a leg up on the competition, we distilled some poignant tips from our hours with the mode, and also spoke with senior producer Ben Bishop to clear up some of our biggest questions about how progression works. The following 10 tips should put you well on your way to NBA stardom.

1. Think Outside The Box Picking Your Player Archetype

New to NBA 2K17 this year, users much choose a player archetype while building their MyPlayers. Think of these like classes, such as sharpshooter, lockdown defender, shot creator, etc. Most people's natural inclination when building characters is to build an offensive focused guard, who typically has their hands on the ball more often and can create opportunities without the help of their teammates. No question, being the next MJ, Kobe, or Curry is a lot of fun, but Bishop says NBA 2K17's new archtypes make playing styles that were less interesting in past games shine.

"One of the things that's interesting is people generally want to gravitate to the more offensive archetypes, and I would definitely suggest trying out some of the other things," he says. "Looking at the caps that we put in each of the attribute towers for the archetypes, you might think a certain thing is too low or a certain thing is too high that you're not as interested in, but you'd be surprised even if you get halfway up a tower you can still be pretty successful. So if you want to be a lockdown defender, that doesn't mean your offense is going to be terrible. It just means it will probably develop a little bit slower, but eventually you can become a good all-around player. It's not like you're completely funneled down that path, it's just that's what your big strength is."

Bishop says big men in particular are a lot more fun to play this year thanks to some changes that have come to the post game, and the ability to control both your player and teammate Justice Young when "Orange Juice" mode is activated.

"Having Justice as a point guard and you as a center, you can actually create some really fun plays," he says. "You can get some crazy alley-oops and you can get an inside-outside game going. It's a whole other way to play the game a lot of people haven't tried, and it's worth your while this year."

2. Take The Free Money

The lifeblood of your MyCareer is earning virtual currency (VC) that you can spend on making your player better, incorporating new dunking/dribbling/shooting animations, or enhancing your player's fashion sensibilities. The most common way to earn VC is by playing games, but you can earn some quick currency via a few unconventional methods as well.

The MyNBA 2K17 app (available for both Android and iOS devices) has a daily VC bonus pick 'em that can max out at 1,500 VC. You can also earn an additional 500 VC by playing a handful of quick card games that pit your starting lineup of cards against other users online. It doesn't matter if you win or lose them – you get the VC either way.

While playing the MyCareer mode, make sure you attend every endorsement meeting, even for small-time events like catering companies. "They don't really cost you any time, you just pick it off the calendar and your guy walks off and comes back, and you get a little bit of VC," Bishop says.

You can also earn a small amount of VC during practices by performing specific actions like nailing corner threes from both sides of the hoop, draining five consecutive shots, making dunks/layups/jumpshots on both sides of the court, etc.

Don't be afraid to take a break and play other modes. Every game you play in MyGM, MyLeague, and other modes earns you VC you can spend on your MyPlayer.

3. Gun For The Badges

Each player type has a handful of specific badges it can earn and then upgrade from bronze to silver, gold, hall of fame, and grand. In addition, regardless of your player type you can earn the bronze level of every badge available in the game.

Badges take time to earn, but they are worth it because they impart a skill bonus whenever you attempt a relevant action. For instance, every time a player with the pick pocket badge attempts a steal, they have a greater chance of being successful.

Bishop says Visual Concepts would prefer users to earn the badges naturally based on the way they play the game, which is why it doesn't release the specific list of requirements you need to unlock the badges. But the promise of these stat boosts is too alluring for a great deal of users, which is why they have crowdsourced the criteria on channels like the NBA 2K subreddit.

If you are on the quest for badges, the first thing you should do is jack up the game time to 12 minute quarters. This allows you to spend more time on the court in pursuit of your goal. If you want to maximize your chances of earning badges, you could also drop the skill level to rookie, though I found the gameplay experience to be much less interesting when you can earn triple doubles before halftime with regularity.

4. Don't Practice All The Time

When looking at your player's daily schedule, you may be astounded by the amount of practice sessions available. Some days you may have four opportunities to better yourself by doin' work at your team's facility, plus you can just shoot hopes at your homebase. If you do every session available, the game becomes a grind on par with the most nefarious JRPGs. The good news? That's not the way the mode is meant to be played.

"You definitely don't need to do all of them, and we didn't want to make people feel that way," Bishop says. "I think people see it on the schedule and say, 'Oh, it's on there so I should probably go to it,' but it's not something you need to do every single day."

Early on you may want to do a few sessions a day to form your bond with Justice, who is a gym rat, but after that your focus should be more on team practices and playing games.

5. Optimize Your Practice Time

When you do hit the gym, there isn't a lot of explanation about how you can improve your player outside of filling the vague "doin' work" bar. What you need to know is secondary skills (like reaction time, hustle, shot IQ) and a couple primary skills that Visual Concepts felt didn't fit well into the general skill tiers (like free-throw shooting and stamina) can only be improved by putting in work at the gym.

But here's the catch – most of these second-tier skills aren't directly tied to specific drills. You can improve your free throw shooting by staying after team practices to shoot from the charity stripe, and performing the Gatorade reaction drills in the gym room improve your reaction rating, but outside of that the upgrades come randomly.

Bishop says you get point for a random skill after doing any five of the minigames during one session. This includes agility ladder, the weights, the vertical jump, the box jump and sprints. But you also get points for just showing up.

"You do get some other bonuses just for going to multiple practices," Bishop says. "I believe it's every three practices you'll get a plus-one to something like intangibles, shot IQ, or one of those other ones.

6. Don't Overdue Free-Throw Shooting Practice

If there's one thing Shaquille O'Neal taught us, it's that taking a million practice free throws after hours won't necessarily make you a better free-throw shooter. Visual Concepts used a similar line of thinking when coming up with its criteria for earning points toward your free-throws skill.

Don't do what I did and stay 30 minutes after practice shooting from the stripe and hoping to see your rating skyrocket upward. That's not how the system works. "Doing it multiple times in the same practice isn't going to do anything," Bishop says. "It's more about doing it over the course of multiple practices."

That being the case, be sure to do the drill after every practice. We have to be patient in upgrading this critical skill given how low each character starts with this rating, but there is help on the way.

"We're going to have the free throw bonuses come more quickly in the next patch, which is coming soon, because people seem to be specifically wanting those free-throw bonuses," Bishop says. "It comes a little bit slow right now."

7. Don't Obsess Over The Doin' Work Bar

Whether you're at practice or shooting around at your MyCourt, every shot you take or drill you do fills the doin' work bar. Once you fill the bar completely several times, it unlocks a new attribute point you can put toward any of the skill buckets. This seems like a critical objective for a new player trying to get better, but Bishop says this is actually more important for those who have already maxed out their attributes.

"If you haven't used all of your currently available upgrades, earning additional upgrades through practices isn't going to be super helpful to you," Bishop says. "It's definitely something that becomes more and more valuable the more you play it and the more that you've filled out your existing upgrades."

Once you do earn an upgrade, it's up to you to choose which attribute bucket you want to put it into. If you are like me and spent a lot of time earning attribute upgrades but haven't maxed out your existing upgrades yet, the good news is they bank for you to use when you need them later.

When you do want to start filling that doin' work meter to unlock the new attribute caps, be sure to participate in the drills offered to you by the other players at the practice facility or on your MyCourt. Those impart very big boosts even if you fail the drills.

8. Focus On Your Teammate Grade

Considering you start at a 55 overall rating that barely justifies you earning a spot on an NBA-DL roster, let alone becoming a lottery pick, you probably aren't going to light the NBA on fire with gaudy stat lines right from the start of your rookie season. That's okay, because the VC bonuses you get for points, assists, rebounds, etc. aren't as critical to earning VC as getting a good teammate grade is.

"You're going to get the biggest return from being a good teammate," Bishop says. "So even if you're not that good and you can't score a lot at the very beginning, if you're doing things like setting screens, playing smart defense, and being in the right position that will help your teammate grade go up and you'll get a pretty good boost from that."

9. Socialize With The Other Pros

Occasionally you may get a text from a teammate, NBA star, or even a basketball legend like Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. When these personalities invite you to an event, you should definitely attend if it doesn't directly conflict with a team practice.

The other half of your dynamic duo, Justice Young, will invite you out early in your career. Joining him unlocks the barbershop interactions starring Hannibal Burress (Broad City, The Eric Andre Show).

Attending the event Coach K invites you to gives you access to the jump shot creator, which allows you to blend pre-existing jump shot animations into a custom one.

If you do turn someone down due to a scheduling conflict, they will come back around again eventually. "With the current NBA players it's based on schedule," Bishop says. "If you're in the Eastern Conference, you're only going to get a chance to hang out with a a player in the Western Conference like Kevin Durant once or twice over the course of the year when your teams are playing each other and you're in the same town."

Another factor – if you skip a player's event they have different levels of coolness. Hot heads may take longer to come back around and schedule something with you.

10. Stay On Good Terms With Your Shoe Company

The shoe endorsement is the biggest VC earner in the MyCareer extracurricular activities. Once you sign with one of the big companies, you should make it a point to attend any event they ask you to appear at. Being on good terms and excelling on the court will earn you lucrative opportunities like television commercials that will also boost your profile with fans. Play your cards right and you can even get a signature shoe from some companies. 

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

HOW TO PLAY AS ALEX HUNTER IN FIFA 17'S THE JOURNEY

Playing as Alex Hunter in FIFA 17's The Journey story mode is all about experiencing the rush of joining the Premier League as a 17-year-old phenom, but it's also about putting in the hard work on the training field and in games.

To get good grades during games and therefore raise your skills and help solidify your place in the starting eleven, you'll need to play in the context of the team.

I'm no master tactician, but these are some simply techniques I've figured out while playing The Journey that I think are useful.

Note: These tips are for if you play locked to Alex Hunter (therefore, you can't switch to control other players). You can select if you want to do this before each game. I prefer playing The Journey this way because it feels more immersive. In the mode, Alex Hunter can be any forward position, but I like to make him an central attacking midfielder (CAM) instead of a striker. This way I can dictate play more and still contribute on the goal sheet.

POSITIONING 

You don't have to cover every blade of grass to be an effective player. The your A.I. teammates can make some dumb decisions when it has the ball, but if position yourself right to receive the ball, you can do them a big favor.

Different teams employ different formations. I find some harder to break down than others; finding the pockets of space can be challenging. In general, use the radar at the bottom of the screen if you're having trouble getting open. Move around to find those spaces (again, this is easier if you're a CAM); even dropping deep on your side of the halfway line if necessary to pick up the ball.

The screenshot above is a typical situation when facing a 4-4-2 team in a defensive position. If you gain possession and settle down, the opposition themselves will align into two lines (midfielders and defenders) across the pitch. I find it's better to resist temptation and not press against the back line of defenders and try and use through balls. Instead, find the gap between the two lines between the midfielders. Call for the pass from your teammate. Once you collect the ball, you can then send your teammates on runs at the defensive line, passing them through balls as they attack with speed. This is effectively the "false nine" strategy made famous when Pep Guardiola was at Barcelona with Messi.

This screen (above) highlights another positioning concept: The half space. This is an area that between the wing/sideline at the top of the screen and the center channel down the...you know, center of the pitch. Possessing the ball in the half space gives you more options: You can pass diagonal through balls to teammates on either side of Hunter. If you were on the wing you'd be more restricted by the sideline, and have more defenders squaring you up if you were running straight down the center. Even when you're playing against real-life opponents this can be useful, because then they have to choose which defender they're going to drag out of place to come after you.

Be careful when passing to your A.I. winger, however, as there are times when they can be too easily hemmed in along the sideline. If this happens, you're going to have to drop back (while still occupying the half space) to give them support and a passing outlet.

CALLING FOR THE BALL

Alex Hunter has a handful of commands at his disposal when his teammates have the ball. You can ask them to pass to you (on the ground or in the air), send a through ball, or converge on the ball on defense. When it comes to passes, your A.I. teammates exercise some judgement and won't always do what you say, but they will make bad passes if you ask them to (which gives Hunter a bad player grade). Therefore, be careful of the timing of when you ask for a pass.

The screen above is a good time to ask for a pass. Don't wait until you're parallel with the defender who is in the 10 o'clock position in relation to Hunter. If you do, while it may appear you're a step ahead of the defender, he can intercept the pass.

DEFENSIVE RESPONIBILITIES

When the other team has the ball, don't think about where the first pass is going. Instead ask yourself, "Where does the CPU ultimately want to go with the ball? Who is the most dangerous person on the pitch?" In the screen above, it's the number "2" player. Accordingly, I'm not pressing the "1" player, but I'm anticipating 1 passing to 2 and blocking that pass. Now, the player with the ball could pass directly to 2, and that happens from time to time, but often the CPU won't chance it.

If the player passes to 1 (the screen above is from a different part of the game, but still applicable), you often can rush him, steal the ball, and start the counter-attack.

TRAINING & CONVERSATIONS

Your job as Alex Hunter is to get into the starting and stay in the team's starting eleven. To ensure this happens, you have to do well during games as well as in training. This gives you points with your manager. Another thing that influences this is the conversation system. Fiery responses to interviews and interactions drops your status with the manager, while a cool response helps it.

Ignore the conversation; say whatever you want. Not only do you not always get dinged for a fiery response, but as long as you're doing okay in training (B and C grades), your standing with the manager will be fine. Also, some story events will happen anyway (I was once suspended due to a red card, but got to play a crucial story event), so the conversation is largely cosmetic.

 

RELEASE LIST

FIFA 17 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 27
Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One, PC) September 27

 

THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

NBA 2K17 Review – Grinding For Greatness
Also be sure to check out our Test Chamber with the game!

FIFA 17 Review – The Start Of A Promising Career (above)
As you can tell, I'm largely positive on the game. Disappointed, however that more wasn't done with the women's game. Shameless plug: My thoughts on the matter from a previous Sports Desk.

EA Sports Lowballs Iceland National Team For FIFA 17
This makes EA look like the bad guy, especially since the team was one of the stories of Euro 2016, but there's only so much money to go around – even for a company like EA. With the sheer number of licenses out there, and with no one-stop-shop mechanism in place, these kinds of things are bound to happen.

Forza Horizon 3 Review – Fun Down Under

New Underwater Arena For Rocket League

3on3 FreeStyle Basketball Starts Closed Beta 

Franchise Hockey Manager 3 Coming This October 
The new Path to Glory mode eases you into management easier, and the game (licensed by the NHL) is also touting other unannounced features. It comes out on PC and Mac on October 17.