If there’s one major pain point for NBA 2K21 players, it’s the sheer ruthlessness of the game’s shooting mechanics. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to master shooting this year, but it’s much harder than it’s been in past years.
Tying into shooting in NBA 2K21 is a wider correlation between your player’s hot zones and cold zones. In past years, these zones changed depending on the mode you were playing in, but this year they’re all related, so if you go cold in My Career, that’s going to impact your performance in Neighbourhood.
I think that’s where a lot of frustration is coming from for players, and so there’s added weight put onto paying attention to and refining your player’s hot zones on the court. Here’s what you need to do to not only find your hot zones in NBA 2K21, but to also improve them as quickly as possible.
Are hot zones actually important?
The short answer to this question is, yes. The long answer to this question is yes, but with a few caveats.
In past years, hot zones had some relevance but probably not enough to be genuinely game changing. In NBA 2K21 hot zones have a significant impact on the value, percentage and impact of a shot in a certain area of the court.
It is arguably more important than ever to take notice and know about your player’s hot and cold zones on the court. Ignoring these will lead you to long term shooting inefficiencies.
If you’re a 90+ mid-range shot, your success rate in a hot zone is going to be up around 20% higher than any shots you take in a cold spot. At a rating of 90+ you’re going to hopefully be making more shots than you miss, anyway, but to be really damaging you want the boost a hot zone provides you. 20% is rather significant: think of it as going 9/10 as opposed to 6/10 or 7/10. You’re still performing well regardless but you’re getting some additional boosts.
You also need to look at it from the perspective of a low ranked attribute. If you’re a 70+ ranked mid-range shooter those hot zones are going to have more impact on your success rate, but you’re already battling to make shots. It makes sense that, the lower your attribute, the smaller the window for error is.
How to find your hot zones
The quickest and I feel best way to check hot zones in NBA 2K21 is by simply checking your player’s stats.
While in My Career, go to the menu screen, navigate to “Stats”, and then either “My Minutes” or “Roster”.
From there, select your player, and press the R3 button (that’s the right analog stick: click it down). That will bring up detailed statistics for your player in all of their games played up to that point, including all of your hot (and cold) zones.
This view is really important because it not only shows where you’re both hot and cold, but also your shot percentage in those areas.
How to reset your hot zones
In NBA 2K21, the game looks at your past 25 games to determine your hot and cold zones. You’ll get a ranking for these areas before then, but if you’re looking to actually improve and reset these areas to neutral again, you’re going to have to play through at least 25 games.
It’s not technically a “reset” but it’s looking at your performance over 25 games, effectively as an average. So for you to break out of that shooting funk for a specific area on the court, you’re going to need to play through a lot of games quickly to minimise the grind and get that little hot zone boost for your shots. Otherwise you’re going to keep clunking them.
Fastest way to get hot zones
This is very much up for debate and there around countless different ways to get your hot zones back and to turn the court a sea of red.
I’ve touched on shooting before in my NBA 2K21 shooting tips guide, but if that’s not helping you and you’re looking for a faster and more proficient way to get your hot zones up without the need to grind, try these settings:
- Set match difficulty to “Pro”
- Set quarter length to 5-6 minutes. This is to maximise the number of games you play as you ultimately what to quickly breeze through the 25-day barrier to change through zones
- In “controller settings”, go to “Shot Timing” and change this to “real player percentage
Changing to “real player percentage” effectively lowers the ceiling and window for timing your shot, meaning the higher the player attribute the more likely you are to hit that shot. I think that long term you should look at mastering the default shot timing meter because you’ll need to use it in the Neighbourhood anyway but for now, to get your Badges quickly and improve your hot zones you can play to real player percentage”.
There are a few things to consider, however: if you have a low-ranked attribute in a particular area, forcing shots won’t magically lead to gaining a hot zone. You’re going to need to grind to get those attributes up regardless. Here are some key things to remember:
- Focus attribute points on shooting areas you want to improve in
- Aim to get mid-range and 3-point shots into the 90 attribute range
- Utilise teammate screens and Shooting badges to maximise off-the-dribble and open shot
Best badges to help get hot zones
I’d look at first equipping these badges to help improve your shooting and overall play performance:
- Difficult Shooter badge: Improves the ability to shoot difficult shots off the dribble. High difficulty jumpers such as hop steps, spins, stepbacks, and pull-ups receive a shot percentage boost.
- Catch & Shoot: This badge will give you a boost to the chances of hitting a jump shot immediately after catching the ball.
- Corner Specialist Badge: This badge will give you a boost in shots taken near the corner on deep and mid-range shots.
- Deadeye Badge: This badge will see a reduction to the impact a defender may have in closing you out when taking a shot.
- Flexible Release Badge: This badge will reduce the impact of a penalty received from a mis-timed jump shot release.
- Volume Shooter badge: This badge will boost the shot percentage of any shot attempts accrued during a match.
Once you’ve improved the rate of hot zones on the court for your player, you can equip:
- Hot Zone Hunter badge: This badge will boost the percentage of any shots taken in a player’s favourite spots on the court.
Have any tips on how to improve shooting and get more hot zones? Sound off in the comments below!