NBA 2K18 adds a bevy of new features into the mix. The most notable additions, though, are seen in MyCareer mode. Your main goal remains to level up your created player to a 99 overall rating, but you have a lot more freedom along the way than in previous iterations. The new “Neighborhood” feature drops your created player into an open world, giving you real choices of how to spend your time. The road to 99 is long and winding, so let us help steer you in the right direction with our NBA 2K18 MyCareer Guide.
Choosing your position and skills
After you create your player, you have to pick your position on the court: Point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, or center. This is really a matter of preference. If you want to facilitate the offense, choose point guard. If you want to hang down low and crash the boards, power forward or center is your best bet. If you want to be a versatile wing player, shooting guard or small forward is ideal. Considering that you choose which team you play for in MyCareer, you may want to pick a position at which that team is weak. For instance, if you choose the Cleveland Cavaliers, picking small forward isn’t a smart bet because quality minutes, especially starting minutes, will be hard to come by (say hi to LeBron James).
After choosing your position, you will be asked to pick a primary and secondary skill. They vary based on which position you choose but the importance of these is that they determine your skill ceilings for each stat. Keep in mind that no matter what you pick, you can progress to a 99 overall, but your skills determine your particular strengths and weaknesses. We prefer choosing one skill that helps yourself and another that helps your team. For example, give yourself good passing or defense as a primary skill to help your team, and then choose shot creating or 3-point shooting as your secondary skill (to help yourself make buckets on your own).
Your height, weight, and wingspan also affect your starting skills. If you stick with the default marks for your position, none of your skills will be either positively or negatively affected but say you increase your height as a point guard, then some stats will improve while others will get worse. After fiddling with these for a while, we found that it’s preferable just to keep the suggested height, weight, and wingspan for your player. This way you don’t rock the boat at the outset when your created player is already weak in most areas of the game.
When your team of choice signs you, you start at a 60 rating. Your long-term goal is to progress to a 99 overall, higher than any current NBA star in the game (James tops the list at 97). You can increase your skills in individual categories by spending 2K virtual currency (VC). The more you level up, the more VC it costs to increase skills. Each time you hit certain level tiers — 65, 70, 75, etc. — you unlock new animations, perks, and additional Neighborhood rewards. For instance, when you hit 92, you will no longer need to go for training facility sessions and you receive a skateboard to get around the neighborhood on.
You also improve in certain facets of the game by earning badges. Currency and experience points toward badges go hand in hand. Badges like Deep Range Deadeye help you hit contested 3-pointers with hands in your face, while Hustle Rebounder means you get rebounds that are typically out of your range. There are 25 badges in all. Earning badges helps you on the court, giving you more possible factors that go toward upping your grade in a game. On your road to 99, you are likely to nab a good number of them. You earn 2K virtual currency and experience points in almost every aspect of MyCareer, but the bulk of these vital progression tools comes from — you guessed it — NBA games.
Excelling in NBA games
Your performance in NBA games dictates how much experience and currency you take home after the buzzer sounds. Consider your NBA contract incentive-based: The better you perform, the more rewards you will reap.
You start off each game with a C (average) rating. The amount of currency you earn relates to your grade, while the amount of experience is figured by the areas in which you fill the stat sheet (rebounds, assists, points, steals, etc.).
What you’ll quickly learn is that your definition of excelling and 2K’s probably don’t exactly line up. You may be tempted to call for the ball repeatedly (‘X’ on PS4, ‘A’ on Xbox One) and jack up as many shots as possible. However, you can put up 30 points and finish with a below average grade. MyCareer forces you to play team basketball if you want to succeed, so you have to focus on your fundamentals — which is a good thing.
On offense, you can up your grade by passing the ball to open teammates. Ball movement and assists are rewarded generously and your grade can move from a C to a C+ on the first possession if you move the ball efficiently.
Ball security is of the utmost importance. Don’t force passes into lanes that aren’t there, and don’t try to dribble through too many defenders. Your grade will plummet from turnovers.
You also want to limit your shots. Only take shots when you have an open look. In the early going, this means taking high percentage shots close to the hoop, as your player’s shot, no matter which skills you picked, will not be great.
On defense, it’s pretty simple — stick to your man. Follow your assignment like a magnet. If he loses you and gets a bucket, your grade will likely go down. The only time when you should abandon your man is when a shot goes up. Converge down in the paint to try and get a rebound. Even as a point guard, if you follow this method, you should be able to snag a few boards each game.
As your player’s overall rating increases over time, you can start to take more shots, call for the ball more, and be a bigger part of the offense. But the only way to do that is to play fundamental basketball from the beginning. The higher your grade, the more likely you are to get your minutes increased.
At the end of each contest, your experience points will be divvied up across different badge categories and you receive VC. Additionally, your “cap breaker” meter will fill. Once it hits 100 percent, the upper limit for a few of your attributes will increase, meaning that you can increase your overall level with VC.
Skill and turbo boosts
Especially in the early going, you’re probably going to have some trouble keeping up with NBA stars. If you aren’t getting the production you like out of your player, you can buy temporary skill and turbo boosts.
Skill boosts can be snagged at Main Street News — a newsstand located just past 2K Zone in the Neighborhood. For 200 VC, you can buy a single-game boost to increase any one of your 16 attributes temporarily. Two-thousand VC gets you 10 games worth of skill boosts, but that’s not actually a discount — it’s just buying in bulk. Because of that, you are almost always better off just buying them à la carte as needed, rather than stocking up.
Turbo modifiers can be purchased at the Gatorade Fuelstation inside the weight training facility. You can buy fuel bars that increase your turbo by 20 percent, Gatorade that slows down turbo loss by 25 percent, and protein bars that let you gain back turbo 25 percent faster than normal. Each of these can help you get closer to the speed and stamina of NBA players as you start your journey. Don’t buy too many of them, though: Like the skill boosts, you will likely outgrow a real need for them soon.
The Neighborhood game mode hinges on the social element of basketball. If you visit the playground courts, you can play in 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, and 5-on-5 pickup games with and against other online players. You earn experience toward badges and virtual currency here too, but you won’t earn as much as you would in NBA games.
That is unless you feel like wagering some coins. The “Ante-up” arena, located near the practice facility lets you wager anywhere from 500 to 5,000 coins on a game. We don’t recommend wagering coins until you are leveled up to around an 80 overall unless you are up against other players with similar ratings.
Don’t forget about practice
Former NBA star Allen Iverson may have had less than favorable opinions about practice, but you, an up-and-coming NBA player, should instead follow the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall. Before you play each game, make sure to enter the practice facility. There, you can complete three drills of your choice. These range from scrimmages to just shooting jump shots. We recommend doing as many scrimmage-based drills as possible because you end up earning experience points across multiple categories.
Occasionally, a pair of team-mandated drills will also be thrown into the mix. These can be completed in addition to the three drills you pick.
Outside of practice, make sure to visit the weight training facility to do exercises that work on your speed, strength, stamina, acceleration, and lateral quickness. Some of these areas will be addressed in games and scrimmages, but to really hone in on badges for those skills, the weight training facility is your best option.
As you rack up minutes and turn in consistent performances, shoe and apparel companies will start to take notice and offer you contracts. Endorsement deals give you VC bonuses for wearing company products in both NBA and pick up games. All endorsement offers will come via your agent. By the time we reached 20 NBA games, we had offers from Adidas and Under Armour. Never take the first offer. Instead, ask your agent to renegotiate for increased currency per game. Adidas offered us 40 coins per NBA game at first but after asking for new terms, we received a 70 coin per game offer. Considering that you can get deals from Adidas, Under Armour, Nike, or Jordan, we actually think it is best to wait for all the offers to come in. Once one comes in, the others soon follow.
The quick way
Yes, there’s a quicker way to get to 99. Right out of the gate, you can buy virtual currency with real cash and increase your player from a 60 to 85. Though, after that, you have to continue to fill your cap breaker meter by playing actual games. You can buy your way to being a quality player, but you can’t completely buy your way to being the best in the game.
Okay, so you can also spend currency on material items in the neighborhood. You can buy new kicks at Foot Locker, pick up some new street clothes at the NBA store, and even pay for fancy haircuts and tattoos. While we don’t want to spoil your fun, spending precious currency on cosmetic items when you are on the road to 99 is not necessarily smart. By all means, buy a new shirt after a good game (and trim that beard), but the more currency allocate toward attribute increases, the quicker you will arrive at the 99 rating.
NBA 2K18 is for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Kyrie Irving, recently traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics, graces the cover.
- How to pre-order NBA 2K23: retailers, editions, and bonuses
- NBA 2K23’s cover star is #23 himself, Michael Jordan
- The best rookies in NBA 2K22 so far
- NBA 2K22: How to upgrade Evolution Cards in MyTeam
- The best 3-point shooters in NBA 2K22