NBA Playgrounds Tips - Perfect Shots, Lottery Picks, Power-Ups - Prima Games

NBA Playgrounds Tips – Perfect Shots, Lottery Picks, Power-Ups

by Bryan Dawson

NBA Playgrounds is about as close as people are going to come to NBA Jam or NBA Street for the foreseeable future. However, even veterans of those two classics may have a hard time acclimating to the gameplay in NBA Playgrounds. This guide covers NBA Playgrounds tips and tricks, including how to perform Perfect Shots, what the Lottery Picks in NBA Playgrounds are, how to fill the Lottery Picks bar and more. If you’ve wondered how to do Perfect Shots in NBA Playgrounds, or what the different NBA Playgrounds power-ups are, you’ve come to the right place. As a side note, many people have been looking for NBA Playgrounds cheats, but at the moment none have been found. We’ll update this article if any happen to surface.

Perfect Shots

  • Timing is very strict.
  • Release at the peak of your jump.
  • Timing varies depending on player stats, distance from hoop and type of shot.
  • Release a little earlier than you would in other basketball games.
  • Stop so you can squared up to the basket instead of moving while you shoot.

To perform a Perfect Shot in NBA Playgrounds, you need to release the shot at the peak of your jump. While this may sounds simple or even obvious, the timing to perform a Perfect Shot is extremely tight. In addition, the timing changes depending on what kind of shot you’re attempting, the player you’re using and where you’re at on the court. To put it simply, there’s no uniform timing for hitting a Perfect Shot and it will take some time to get Perfect Shots on a majority of your shots, but it can be done.

The best “trick” we’ve found is to look for the slight pause players have just as they reach the peak of a jump shot. If you release the shoot button as soon as you see this very slight pause, you’ll have a high probability to hit a Perfect Shot. While the timing will still vary depending on the player, it’s much easier to adjust to different timings by watching for the brief aerial pause. Once again, it may seem as though you’re releasing late, but you’ll find your percentage of Perfect Shots will increase if you can perfect this technique.

It’s easier to get the timing down if you focus on the same two players for awhile. In most cases, as soon as you change players, your timing will be thrown off again. You should also practice taking shots from the same spot on the court and squared up to the hoop. If you take a leaning shot it’s harder to time the Perfect Shot bonus. If you’re having trouble hitting Perfect Shots, more often than not you need to release the ball a fraction of a second later. Most people miss Perfect Shots before they release the shoot button just a bit too early, but again, this all depends on the type of shot and the player you’re using.

When you land a Perfect Shot, you get one extra point for your efforts. That means a three-pointer is now worth four points, and a dunk that’s normally worth two points is now worth three points. This also stacks with other bonuses, meaning you can rack up big points in a single basket if you land a Perfect Shot three-pointer while you have the double points Lottery Pick bonus active for a total of seven points off one shot. That’s not even the most you can get off a single shot!

Generally speaking, if you hold the Shoot button too long your shot will miss and “Late” will be displayed near the hoop. If you don’t hold the Shoot button long enough, your shot will miss and “Early” will be displayed near the hoop. If you were close to the Perfect Shot timing, more often than not your shot will go in, but you won’t get the extra point bonus.

Due to how the shooting animation works in NBA Playgrounds, you generally want to release a little earlier than you would in other basketball games. If you’re used to NBA2K or even NBA Jam or NBA Street, the timing to release at the peak of a jump is just a bit earlier than you’re probably accustomed to. Just watch for “Late” or “Early” to show up near the hoop to know how you need to adjust your timing. This will also help you to hit normal shots.

Getting Perfect Shot on dunks is a little bit harder because you have to factor in your forward momentum as well. Depending on where you jump from, you may not hit the peak of your jump until you’re at the hoop. In this situation it’s too late to release the Shoot button and still get a Perfect Shot. You have to release earlier in order to score a Perfect Shot on most dunks, again, depending on where you jump from. In addition, players with higher shooting stats can jump faster or take longer to reach their peak, meaning you need to adjust your release timing to get a Perfect Shot.

Lottery Picks (Power-Ups)

Lottery Pick Bar

The Lottery Pick bar is the blue bar in the upper corners of the screen. You can fill the Lottery Bar by landing dunks, alley-oops, stealing the ball and blocking shots. Some moves will increase the bar more than others. For example, successful alley-oops will almost always fill up 50 percent of the Lottery Pick bar, while a steal or three-pointers only fill up a small amount of the bar. If you want to fill up the Lottery Pick bar as quickly as possible, go for alley-oops and dunks.

It’s also important to note that pushing an opponent will lower your Lottery Picks bar and remove any active power-up. This is the penalty for pushing instead of just going for a steal or block. Make sure you don’t go for a push if you’re close to a full Lottery Pick bar or you’ll lose the potential advantage. Also, all score bonuses stack with other bonuses, so a Perfect Shot will add one point to the bonuses listed below, where applicable. You won’t have all of these power-ups available when you first start playing. You have to unlock them by winning tournaments in Tournaments Mode.

While the power-up you get is random, it works in a similar fashion to items in Mario Kart. The player who is losing has a higher chance of getting a really good power-up (Star Shot or 2x 3-Pointer usually), while the player who is winning will almost always get Speed Boost or 12″ Timer, with the occasional Electric Ball. If you’re losing, go for dunks and alley-oops so you can get a Lottery Pick and mount a comeback. If you get Star Shot you can make up 20-30 points in just three possessions.


  • 2x in the Paint – With this power-up you will get a base of four points for any dunks made in the paint or any successful alley-oops.
  • 2x 3-Pointer – Any three-pointer made while this bonus is active will net you a base of six points instead of the normal three.
  • Speed Boost – Gain a limited movement speed bonus to move faster up and down the court.
  • 12” Timer – The opponent’s shot clock will run down faster.
  • Star Shot – Score from any starred location on the court to multiply the points of the shot. The first shot in a starred area is worth double points, the second shot is worth triple points and the third shot offers a 4x multiplier. Hitting all three shots within the time limit will usually net you 25 points depending on where the star points appear (inside or outside of the three-point line).
  • Electric Ball – This activates the next time you cross the half court line on offense. Once active, your next shot cannot be blocked and will not miss no matter what your stats are. However, you can still be pushed or the ball can be stolen before you shoot. Make sure you use this to shoot a three-pointer if at all possible.

Defend Against Power-Ups

Many of the power-ups can have a huge impact on the game. For example, the 2x 3-pointer can lead to 7 points on a single shot, while the Star Shots can lead to 10 points or more on a single shot. Luckily, most of the power-ups in the game have a limited time that they’re active. If your opponent gets a really good power-up, try to wait until your shot clock is almost at zero before taking your shot. This runs down the opposing team’s power-up timer, giving them less time to use it and potentially mount a comeback or take a big lead.

When you’re up against the 12″ Timer power-up, you need to take your shots as quickly as possible. The shot clock will run out much faster than you might expect while your opponent has this power-up active. Don’t press A to pass the ball in after the opponent scores. Instead, run down the court and let the AI automatically throw the ball in after a few seconds. This will save you time so you can get a good shot and not worry as much about the fast shot clock speed.

If your opponent has the Electric Ball or 2x in the Paint power-ups, execute a push as soon as you see them go for a shot. You can’t block an Electric Ball, but you can push the opponent to stop the shot from going in. Likewise, it’s difficult to block a dunk, especially if you don’t have a player with a high block stat. It’s much easier to just push the player as they’re going up for the dunk so they don’t score up to five points from a single dunk (with the power-up).


Stamina is represented by the circular bar directly below your player. If it’s yellow you can do just about anything, but once it drops into the red some of your abilities will be restricted. Any time you sprint, push, throw elbows, perform a crossover or dunk, your stamina bar will drain. Keep an eye on the stamina of both players on your team to make sure you have the stamina you need to perform abilities when you need them.

Note: As of May 12, 2017 a new update has changed the way stealing and stamina works. Steals now consume a significant amount of stamina in the game.


Stealing doesn’t require any stamina and is the best way to force a turnover. The only way to avoid getting the ball stolen from a skilled player is by performing a crossover, which depletes a lot of stamina. The higher your player’s steal stat, the easier it is for them to steal the ball. Since it doesn’t use any stamina, you should be going for a steal almost any time you’re close to an opponent.

Note: As of May 12, 2017 a new update has changed the way stealing and stamina works. Steals now consume a significant amount of stamina in the game. This changes the stealing strategy so that you now have to more carefully time your steal. Instead of just blinding spamming the Steal button, defensive players need to wait until the offensive player attempts a crossover, then go for a steal once that animation is complete.


You also go for a push to knock an opponent down and cause them to immediately drop the ball, but that also drains your stamina significantly. If you miss a push, you won’t have much stamina left to perform other abilities. That means you may not even be able to run for the loose ball.

It’s best to save a push as your last resort when your opponent has a Electric Ball power-up or is going for a dunk that you likely won’t be able to block. Keep in mind, pushing an opponent means you will not only drain a lot of stamina, but you’ll also drain a large amount of your Lottery Pick bar, making it that much harder for your to score a power-up. In most cases it’s not a good idea to use a push if you’re close to a full Lottery Pick bar.

Crossovers – Unstoppable Offense

At first you may think crossovers don’t have a lot of control and aren’t very useful. However, you just need to think of a crossover like you would another way to evade. If your opponent goes for steals or tries to push a lot, you can use a crossover to stop this. You cannot have a ball stolen or be pushed in the middle of a crossover. On the negative side, it uses a lot of stamina and it’s difficult to move in the direction you want to go no matter which way you push the right analog stick. Stealing is a huge part of competitive NBA Playgrounds, which means you’re going to need a way to deal with it, and a well-timed crossover is exactly what you need to do to avoid getting the ball stolen.


Many players have a hard time with alley-oops at first, but they’re a very good way to fill your Lottery Picks bar, so you should practice them whenever you can. To perform an alley-oop, hold LT (Xbox) or L2 (PS4) until your teammate jumps into the air. They may not jump immediately, especially if they have low stamina, they’re not close to the basket or they’re closely guarded. Just keep holding LT or L2 and they will eventually jump.

Once your teammate jumps, you have to time your pass and the release of L2 or LT. If you pass too early or release LT or L2 too late, the alley-oop will fail. Usually you want to pass a bit earlier than you might think, and release LT or L2 a little later. With this combination you can increase your success rate on alley-oops and score a big boost to your Lottery Picks bar.

Don’t forget to check out our Tournament Challenge tips, and if you’re looking for more strategy and advice, be sure to check out our NBA Playgrounds game hub!