NBA 2K23 Defensive Tips: How to Play On Ball Defense & Become a Better Defender

When it comes to playing defense in NBA 2K23, there's a lot of things you can do to help your team and win your individual matchups. This guide will give you the basics on how to be a Lockdown Defender and dominate on that end of the court. From Defensive Settings, to Player Builds and Badge Loadouts, there's a lot to consider when becoming a Lockdown Defender and we're going to cover it all in this guide.

NBA 2K23 How to Play Defense

Check your Defensive Controller Settings

Under the options tab, go to your controller settings and scroll to the bottom. You'll come across the Defensive Assist Strength option. Most players will opt for a Defensive Assist Strength of anywhere from 0-15. While having this option maxed sounds like a good idea, lowering this setting will help you from sliding as much because it gives less control to the AI when you're playing defense. You can experiment with different strengths and find what's best for you.

Another option some people prefer to turn off is the Who To Guard option. Many people like myself, still prefer to see the arrow when playing Man Defense, but if you prefer to turn this option off it can help some players from getting confused on defensive switches.

Tips on How to Get Steals

  • Anticipate the ball handler switching hands and then attempt a steal for a good chance at getting a pluck.
  • As an Off-Ball defender, look for opportunities to 'Blitz' the ball handler when they're moving toward you. This is just running into the ball side hand and going for a reach.
  • Learn how to 'Bait' the passing lanes. You can sometimes fool the ball handler into thinking your man is open when in reality you've been waiting for him to throw that pass.
  • Learn the sweet spots on the court to help you be the most effective when looking for lane steals.
  • Sometimes it's not about getting the steal, but setting up your teammate for that steal instead. Pressuring your defender to one side of the court or forcing him out of bounds may force them to throw a bad pass, giving your team an opportunity to capitalize and steal the ball.

Choosing the Correct Badges and Badge Levels

The best defensive badges for a Perimeter Lockdown include Clamps, Challenger, Glove and Interceptor. Having these badges will give you the best chance to stay in front of your man and generate turnovers giving your team valuable extra positions. If you have a 70 Block rating or higher, using the Chase Down Artist badge even on Bronze can help you get the right animations for a swat at the rim. Also, Perimeter Lockdowns should be using Pick Dodger as high as they can AFTER you've equipped your primary badges.

For Interior Defense, the best badge to have equipped would be the Anchor badge. Having Hall of Fame Anchor on defense will be your best bet to get a stop in the paint. With good positioning and timing on your block attempt, you can be very effective in getting stops at the rim. You'll also want to make sure you have the Boxout Beast badge in order to help your team get easy rebounds. Most bigs will aim to get Boxout Beast to at least Hall of Fame with a 94 Defensive or Offensive Rebound. Pogo Stick can be useful for taller builds as well but it's not as high of a priority as the other badges. If you find yourself going against stronger players with more post control and Close Shot, the Post Lockdown badge can help you hold your ground better and even give you a better chance to strip the ball when timed correctly. If this badge fits your playstyle, it can be worth using but not the biggest priority.

Then there are some badges that sound good in theory, but in reality they don't provide enough boost to justify spending your badge points. These badges include Menace, Off-Ball Pest, and Ankle Braces for non competitive players. If you're more of a visual person, we made a video ranking all the defensive badges in a tier list for all playstyles and you can view that video here:

NBA 2K23 Defensive Badge Tier List

Defense Works Best as a Team

Defense isn't a one man show, and in NBA 2K23 it can sometimes be hard to get a stop which is why a big key in learning how to play defense comes from learning to play off your teammates and vice versa. Figuring out where and when to help cut off lanes as an on and off ball defender can play a huge role in making it hard for the ball handler to score.

Learn your opponents tendencies

There's a good chance you'll see the same dribble combo from the ball handler multiple times a game if not every possession, or maybe you'll see that the PG likes to pass more than score. If you can learn these tendencies, it will be easier for you to dictate the flow of the game on defense. Learn to anticipate their moves when you find their tendencies and this will surely lead to more steals and just general success on defense.

Make a Strong Defensive Build for your MyPlayer

NBA 2K23 Defensive Badge Tier List

If you want to play defense at the highest level, you'll need to make sure you have the necessary attributes and badges to play defense in a game where it's very easy to score. This means that if you want to learn how to get Steals, making sure you have a high steal rating is a great place to start. If you want to get Blocks, making sure you have enough Block Rating for at least Bronze Anchor can make a big difference. Depending on the type of defender you want to be should determine which badge levels you aim for. If you want to stone wall offensive ball handlers, make sure to increase your Perimeter Defense to your liking, this will also increase your lateral quickness attribute which makes it a lot easier to stay in front of your opponent. If you're looking to make a well rounded build, a 99 steal or high block rating may not be as viable since it's a hefty investment. You may have to settle for lower badge levels which can still be effective. Luckily for you, we have stats on almost every badge in the game and their recommended levels to help you at

When making a defensive build, you'll also want to make sure the physicals such as speed, vertical, and stamina are as high as possible. The Speed attribute is one of your primary attributes you should look to max out. Being able to cover ground as quickly as possible is why speed is one of the primary attributes a lockdown should focus on. It will help on closeouts on the perimeter, late rotations, and just in general and is well worth the investment. The Vertical attribute works in unison with Blocks and Rebounds to help you be more effective in those areas allowing for better and quicker animations.

We always encourage people to make their own unique builds but if you're looking for premade builds suitable for all playstyles, we have a page on our website for Recommended Builds which you can find here:

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