NBA 2K14: OKC Thunder review, strategy and notes

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NBA 2K14 dropped at midnight last night, ending what always seems like the worst few months of the year, as the game’s release signifies that the NBA season is not far away.

This isn’t going to be a full review of the game, but it will be a review of the Oklahoma City Thunder with first impressions from gameplay, the changes from 2K13 and other notes.

Let’s just jump right in.

What’s new?

You will hear a lot of people calling NBA 2K14, NBA 2K13.5. I think that is a fair assessment because the game does feel a lot like 2K13. That’s mostly to the untrained eye though, 2K definitely changed some things, improved things and tweaked what was already good making it better. The game feels very smooth right out of the box.

Controls, improved defense

The controls are different and really now much tougher to pull off moves attacking the basket. The right stick has returned as the shot stick, and also is used for dibble moves, which can be tricky to get used to. The defense is also a lot better so it’s not nearly as easy to get by defenders with simply using the turbo button.

Russell Westbrook can still get by his man with relative ease and so can Kevin Durant, especially with a bigger man on him. That’s what makes the Thunder great though and you’re average NBA player will have a lot of trouble driving to the hoop.

Signature jumpers

You’ll also notice some tweaks to Durant and Westbrook’s jumpers. I think they are both much improved. Durant’s is quicker and requires a very quick release of the button to get a perfect release. Westbrook’s you still need to hold down for awhile but it looks much more like real life. Also when pulling up with Westbrook with some momentum, it feels much more improved.

All of the other Thunder players pretty much have the same release as last year, including Serge Ibaka, whose shot still doesn’t feel quite right.

Playbooks

The playbooks have also been revamped somewhat. 2K12 was nearly identical to 2K11, but the 2K13 Thunder playbook will take some time learning.

I haven’t learned the OKC playbook entirely yet, but from what I have seen, it is much improved. There are a lot of sets that the Thunder run in real life and there seem to be more options within those sets. After a few games, you will really feel like it’s the real-life Thunder out there.

Strategy with OKC

Trying to emulate what OKC does in real-life is a good idea, although it is tougher to go to work on isolation plays this season. I found most success running Durant off screens and using Russ and Reggie Jackson in the pick-and-roll.

Jackson is really good in the pick-and-roll as his rating got a nice bump and he has a signature skill that makes him a great passer in pick-and-roll plays. With the second unit, you can dominate for stretches using Jackson in the pick-and-roll.

Jeremy Lamb is the fourth-highest rated player on OKC and can be a beast as well. He is a good three-point shooter and really the only Thunder player besides Durant capable of running around off screens.

Just about every Thunder player has their hot shooting zones on the right side of the floor. Ibaka has this on the wing and the right, corner three. Jackson’s only hot zone is the right corner three. Lamb and Derek Fisher’s hot zones are on the right wing behind the three-point line. Sefolosha is on the right corner, and he also has a special skill as a corner specialist. Even Durant’s hot zones are mostly on the right side of the floor.

The floor spacing is much better in 2K14, that’s one of the first things I noticed. I good plan of attack is running pick-and-rolls and isolations on the left side of the floor so the role players are spotting up on the right side. The defense quickly converges on the drive so the kick out can be deadly.

As always with the Thunder, the key is getting out and running in transition. Westbrook has a signature skill that makes him a one-man fastbreak so try and get him the ball quickly after rebounds to activate the skill. The Thunder have the best rated defense in the game too so getting stops and getting out and running isn’t too tough.

Final verdict

I’ve had the game less than a day and so far am really enjoying it. It definitely feels improved from a year ago, but also at the same time feels very similar to last year, in presentation a lot too which is kind of a disappointment.

I’m all about gameplay and that seemed to be the focus with this game. The rebounding feels better, shot blocking too and most importantly, the spacing. It’s the best sports video game out there and is the closest thing to the real thing.

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Tags: NBA 2K14 Oklahoma City Thunder

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