The Pro Stick is nothing new to the NBA 2K universe of basketball games, and the community has seen the mechanic evolve of the years from being a key staple of the experience, to something that acts as more of an afterthought.
That will change with NBA 2K21, as the Pro Stick appears to have received a significant overhaul ahead of the game’s release on September 4.
Having gone unchanged since its inception, 2K Sports appears set to refine and rejuvenate the mechanic, and it’s sure to cause plenty of heated debate amongst the NBA 2K faithful.
The development team see the changes as being an opportunity to improve the offensive capabilities of the game, shifting it away from being purely a “shooting” stick, and more of a jack-of-all-trades type mechanic.
Per Mike Wang‘s latest developer blog, the changes can best be summarised as:
- Hold RS down = jump shot
- Hold RS left or right = escape dribble moves
- Hold RS up = signature size-ups
- Tap the RS = quick 1-to-1 dribble moves
- Tap the RS with Spring held = quick momentum dribble moves
With this change, Wang explains, the intent was to expand the dribble moves and arsenal available to players. There appears to be an expectations that the learning curve could be steep, but overall the development team seems to think that it will “feel second nature” after only a few games.
On top of this complete remapping of the stick itself, there’s been a lot of focus on the moves themselves, and the responsiveness on the court. Street moves have been moved over to the left stick, so there’s a clear differentiation that to ensure you don’t mix them up and execute one when you tried to execute the other.
Size-up dribbles can be performed by use the Pro Stick and moving with the left stick, alongside a host of new signatures, like Harden’s around the leg dribbles, and Durant’s hesi-cross.
There will be 14 Park and 36 unique NBA Size-ups.
From a shooting perspective, as you’re driving, using the Pro Stick in the past would automatically result in a layup. The goal in NBA 2K21 is to force the contact in layups while avoiding poor matchups, and so moving the stick to the centre of the target will ensure you can make contested layups throughout contest without missing easy shots.
Wang says it’s hard to return to the Shoot button after perfecting the Pro Stick, but I think we’ll be the judge of that.
When it comes to jump shooting, we can expect something similar to Shot Stick Aiming from NBA 2K17. The team admits it “didn’t really work well” that year for a host of reasons, but they’ve taken learnings and will use them to create a better solution.
In NBA 2K21, shooting with the Pro Stick initiates a new targeting system: you no longer try to stop the shot meter when you reach the perfect release windows, instead adjusting the Pro Stick in real time to hit the ideal center aim point, as detailed above when it comes to layups. The target window will resize dynamically, as it’s explained, all varied depending on the player’s skill set.
“[Even] the slightest degree might be the difference between a make and an airball on Hall of Fame, while it’s quite a bit more forgiving on easier difficulties,” Wang says. “You also won’t be penalized for using the entire shooting motion to find the sweet spot.
“In other words, you don’t have to time your release when you’re shooting with the Pro Stick. But if you want to take it to the next level and know you release, you can lock in your timing and aim by either centering the Pro Stick or by tapping one of the triggers when you reach the apex of the shot.
“The lock in will be indicated by a brief flash on the shot meter. If you can time AND aim well, you will give yourself the best chances at making the shot.”
So there you have it. Some pretty significant changes to the core basketball offerings in NBA 2K21, that will hopefully change handling and shooting for the better.
What are your thoughts on the changes to the Pro Stick? Sound off in the comments below!