Using the design principles from some of EA SPORTS top rated franchises, NBA ELITE 11 introduces several significant gameplay changes that center around user control. The new 'Hands-On Control' scheme allows for one-to-one responsiveness of a player's movement and actions on the court, as opposed to traditional predetermined animations that require users to wait while a scenario played out before making the next move. Hands-on Control applies to everything within a player's offensive and defensive arsenal, including: dribble moves, dunks, drives to the basket, fadeaways, mid-air adjustments, blocks, steals and more.

The new real-time physics system in NBA ELITE 11 allows each player on the court to move independently of one another, removing the two-man interactions that have long taken the user control out of basketball simulation videogames. In addition, a new skill-based shooting system requires accurate user input, based on a player's position on the court, versus the randomly generated dice rolls that have driven shooting in basketball videogames in the past.