5 Do's and Dont's for Being a Good Teammate in NBA 2K22's No Squads Old Gym
For those who play NBA 2K22‘s MyCareer mode online on next-gen systems, one of the best additions to The City has been the No Squads Old Gym. Free from having to play against established squads who run together often and probably have a long winning streak in the park when you challenge them with a couple of sorry randoms, the Old Gym seeks to level the playing field by creating a place to enjoy some 3-on-3 ball for anyone who doesn’t have a regular 2K crew. Since this means that essentially everyone is then playing with randoms, the team that usually comes out on top is the one that’s able to learn each other’s tendencies and transform into a cohesive unit as quickly as possible.
If you’re ever going to start racking up wins in the Old Gym then, it’s imperative that you focus on what you’re able to control by becoming the best teammate possible. Along the way, you’re bound to naturally lose the roll of the dice by getting matched up with some players who seem to do nothing but drag down your squad every chance they get. But competing alongside and even against people of all different skill levels can start to reveal to you some of the habits that separate the ideal teammates from the ones you would choose last if this were a classic schoolyard pick. Even those who excel in 5-on-5 play in The Rec will learn that playing as a team is a little different in the Old Gym with fewer people on the floor and more space.
With that in mind, here are some key DO’s and DONT’s that I have learned from my time in the Old Gym to help you become a better teammate and hopefully set you on the right path to accumulating more victories within its friendly confines.
Don’t Quit The Game
Without question, the worst thing you can do as a teammate is quit out of the game entirely and abandon the rest of your team. Aside from the fact that you won’t receive any rewards should you decide to quit, you’ll also leave behind the rest of the squad to have to have to work with an AI teammate in your place. This outcome is less than ideal because the only thing AI teammates ever seem to do well is make bad decisions.
Look, it can undeniably be frustrating to continue playing a game that’s clearly a lost cause. Beyond that, the fact that the Old Gym is practically predicated on the notion that you don’t really have any connection to those you’re playing alongside certainly makes it easier to walk out of the gym mid-game, but that still doesn’t mean it’s ever the right thing to do.
Do Know Your Role
A good habit to get into at the outset of every game in the Old Gym is to take stock of what types of builds the other players on your team are using. By doing this, you can better assess how you’ll be able to fit in with the rest of the group and what kinds of skills you’ll need to lean on in order to help lead your team to victory.
Even if you happen to have a fairly specialized build like a glass cleaner or a playmaker, you’ll still want to know the strengths and weaknesses of others on the team to determine if there’s some way you can compensate for any shortcomings elsewhere. Sometimes this is as simple as figuring out which player is best suited to bring the ball up the court or set screens for others. Needless to say, winning a game can be so much easier if everyone is aware as early as possible of how they’ll best jell as a unit.
Don’t Blindly Pass The Ball
It’s a common occurrence to see teammates who get in a tough spot where defenders close in on them and cause them to pick up their dribble, panic, and then mash the pass button. As with many decisions born out of desperation, there’s a high chance that this will end in failure when the blind pass intended for no one in particular gets picked off by an opponent who has anticipated the poor choice coming from a mile away.
There’s a much lower risk of having that happen if you take a moment to target an open teammate and wait for an appropriate moment to deliver that pass. If you haven’t already, it’s also a good idea to practice how and when to use the different kinds of passes (lob, bounce, alley oops) and work on using icons to guarantee that your pass is going to end up getting to the player you want.
Do Adapt To Your Opponent On Defense
Something that you’re bound to learn the hard way pretty early on in the Old Gym is that you unfortunately won’t always be ideally suited to guard every player that you’re matched up against. If you have some sort of disadvantage in your matchup, such as being slower or shorter, you can bet your opponent will try to use that against you. This is where it can become valuable to do a quick scouting report to better determine what your matchup does well and try to combat that as best as you can.
If they’re quicker than you and want to continuously drive to the basket, give them some space to better cut them off and make them shoot the ball. If they’re a glass cleaner and you’re most definitely not, focus on maintaining good positioning so they won’t be able to grab every rebound. Playing solid defense also means recognizing when a teammate is struggling and giving them as much help as you possibly can — or even switching your matchups if it comes to that.
Don’t Take Bad Shots
Perhaps the worst kind of teammate to find yourself grouped up with in the Old Gym is one that so clearly thinks they can make every contested shot that you can practically here them screaming “Kobe!” with every terrible fadeaway jumper, even when you’re not using a headset. Unless you want to be this guy (please don’t), you’ll need to develop some recognition of when it’s time to put that shot up (“it’s winning time!”) and when it’s best instead to pull it down and look for a better option.
To get yourself better looks at the basket, try having your teammates set some screens to spring you open, or if you have the ball-handling skills, break your defender down in isolation to gain some separation. Under the basket, faking a shot can go a long way towards getting an easy bucket because so many players are looking for the block and will bite on it. On the flip side of things, someone passing up an open look can be just as frustrating as those chucking up the contested bricks, so shoot your shots when you get them.
Do Communicated & Strategize
It’s not an absolute necessity that you wear a headset when you play in the Old Gym (after all, there will be plenty of your teammates not using one), but it’s definitely an advantage to be able to discuss your game plan and any alterations to that game plan in the midst of the action. Aside from being able to call out when you want to run a pick and roll or even more complicated plays, you’ll also be able to call out when you need to switch who you’re guarding on defense.
Even though you’re bound to learn that some people on mic can be rather toxic and don’t want to say anything except to berate you when you do something they perceive as wrong, the benefits of using a headset with the right people outweigh the risk of matching up with those who don’t communicate so well.
Don’t Get In The Way
With so few people on the court in a 3-vs-3 game, something that can drive you nuts is when you’re trying to beat your defender off the dribble to get to the hoop for an easy two points and teammates keep clogging the lane. It’s one thing if you’re a big and want to help out by setting a screen to spring the ball handler free for an open look, but there are times when the best thing you can do is stay in the corner and let your teammate work in isolation with the ball.
You’ll know you’re doing something wrong when what you’re trying to do is set a screen for a teammate but instead they end up running right into you on the way to the hoop. To avoid this, make sure you either roll to the basket or fade to the corner after setting that screen. You also want to pick the right moments to try to cut to the basket away from the ball because if you happen to do it at an inopportune time, you can end up bringing your defender with you when all your teammate with the ball wants to do is get to the paint.
Do Get Back On Defense
Transition points can be a killer in the Old Gym, as it’s not uncommon to see cherry pickers looking for a quick outlet pass that can get them an easy dunk or an open 3-pointer. Preventing this can be a challenge especially when there’s an abrupt change of possession because of a turnover. Outside of turnovers, you need to choose carefully when trying to crash the boards on offense and opt more often to accept that you won’t be able to grab the board.
The more you allow transition opportunities to happen off missed shots, the more your opponent will try to exploit the same tactic. Before you know it, you can find yourself on the wrong end of a blowout without some on-the-fly adjustments.
Don’t Get Discouraged By Losses
There’s a question that everybody with a losing record in the Old Gym will ask themselves at some point: “Am I just getting stuck with bad teammates or am I the bad teammate?” As with many tough questions, the answer is usually not so black and white, and it might ultimately be a little from column A and a little from column B. Whatever the case, there’s no question that losing always hurts, and once you string a few losses together in a row, it can start to feel like you might never win a game again.
Like a good quarterback, it’s best to try to develop a short memory by putting the defeats (particularly the really bad ones) in the rearview and never look back. Every game is a blank slate with new teammates who likely weren’t part of that horrific loss you just suffered, so carrying any baggage from the bad game or games you just played isn’t going to help anyone in the game you’re playing now.
Do Finish Off Your Wins
Wins should never be taken for granted in the Old Gym, so when you’re fortunate enough to build a lead in a game, put it away as soon as you can without letting your opponent hang around. I have been part of too many games where once my team gets way out in front, they then begin to start messing around and doing things that they wouldn’t otherwise if they were taking the game seriously. While this might not always come back to burn you, there have been games where my team has ended up blowing big leads and then losing in the end all due to the fact that they underestimated their opponent and let up on them.
Fortunately, I’ve also had the opportunity to also be on the other end of these kinds of games too, and it feels much better to be the team that mounts the comeback against an overconfident team than to be the one who chokes in the end.