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NBA 2K22 Gameplay: Pick And Roll Defense Must Improve This Year

NBA 2K22 Pick And Roll Defense

NBA 2K21

NBA 2K22 Gameplay: Pick And Roll Defense Must Improve This Year

People want to see what NBA 2K22 is updating on the gameplay front since 2K has said just about nothing to this point. We know we’re finally getting news in the near future, but I’m mostly chill about the whole situation. Now, that’s partly because I come in with my own set of biases and desires for this year’s game. I’m not looking to be blown away because NBA 2K21 next-gen gameplay was closer to what I wanted than most of the prior 2Ks from the PS4/Xbox One generation. I say that as someone who mostly plays “sim-minded” folks in online leagues rather than random-room 5-out mad men or tons of offline games in MyNBA.

Now, saying I like next-gen gameplay is probably a slightly spicy take, but I say that upfront because I’m not trying to bang out a long wishlist about gameplay fixes I want. Rather, it’s to really key in on one major facet of the game that was simultaneously much better than it had been in the past and much worse: the pick and roll.

The meat of this video has portions that relate to both online and offline gameplay, and I want to make it clear that I’m not saying these pick and roll fixes are  a “simple” wishlist request. The pick and roll is complex and it involves all five defenders and most of the players on offense as well, so it’s a 10-person symphony playing out hundreds of times a game in the real NBA. In other words, this is hard stuff to design and implement.

But I do think if the pick and roll is improved this year in some key ways, a lot of the other issues on defense will sort themselves out to some extent, so let’s get into it.

NBA 2K22 Gameplay Analysis: Fixing Pick And Roll

Where We’re At

I think NBA 2K21 next gen had some of the best ball handler vs. on-ball defender interactions ever in the series. There was a difference between good and bad defenders, height and length mattered more, and CPU defense was not OP so it really minimized the concept of calling someone a “coward” or “unsim” or whatever for off-balling a lot of the time. To put it another way, I don’t have much to focus on when it comes to on-ball defensive issues — at least not as a top priority for fixing the pick and roll.

You Can’t Be Half Pregnant

NBA 2K22 pick and roll defense 1

For me, the issues mostly come away from the ball with the help defenders, or at the point of the decision making process of either hedging/trailing//showing or switching the pick and roll. I’ll start with the top culprit, and the one who has to do the job first once the primary defender gets picked, and that’s the big coming up to help out on the pick and roll.

Whether that big defender hedges/shows/traps/or so on, the point is, as they say, you can’t be half pregnant. In short, the CPU big defender too often gets stuck in no man’s land and doesn’t do anything or take anything away.

You can see in some of these video clips that it’s unclear what the big is trying to do a lot of the time. Because the CPU defenders are not mind readers as much anymore, it means they’re not pre-reading you and stopping you. This is a good thing, except it made the pick and roll (especially offline) way too powerful. You didn’t have to earn your buckets because the big would not really take away the drive or 3-ball, or even really the mid range. If the on-ball defender got stuck on the screen at all, the CPU defender was screwed.

NBA 2K22 pick and roll 2

So my first suggestion is to simply have that big play better 2-on-1 defense and zone up the action in a drop coverage. A lot of the time when we switch to the big defender, that’s what we do anyway. We don’t hard hedge or trap, we simply zone up the action and try to take away the oop by bumping the diving roller, and slowing the drive while the on-ball defender trails back into the play or goes under the screen. You’re giving up a decent mid-range shot or a somewhat contested 3-point shot, but you’re trying to stop the points in the paint.

The problem with that for the CPU is most likely that the CPU big is not really coded to zone up two players or bump the roller. It has instructions for who to guard, and then where to be for help or deny defense based on who is being guarded. This is at least one reason why we see big defenders wildly out of place for where they should logically be to help out at the point of attack.

You can even see it with user defenders. Because the game has decided you are guarding a certain player, you can’t properly turn your body and zone up the play some of the time because the game is trying to keep your hips turned towards the player you’re technically covering.

Also, as a side note, yes, it would help if the primary defender didn’t get stuck on as many screens so the big didn’t get put in as many 2-on-1 situations, but that’s a tuning issue as much as anything.

Secondary Issues

NBA 2K22 gameplay wishlist

So that’s a key issue to solve, but there’s some secondary issues at play here as well. The first is that bigs and standstill defenders are simply too slow when in their defensive stance. This is a delicate issue because you don’t want to see Brook Lopez being able to recover and slide to get in front of a full-steam ahead Damian Lillard or whoever, but because these CPU guys are not mind reading anymore, they need much better positioning or a little more help in the going 0-to-60 department.

Additionally, I talk a lot about zoning up the 2-on-1 action as the big because hard traps don’t work — double teams legitimately just aren’t a thing in 2K it seems. And we also know historically that hard traps of the pick and roll just don’t work in 2K on a fundamental level because everyone has LeBron James vision. This is due to the camera angle we see the game at, and because pretty much every player has the strength to whip one-handed passes because people complain a lot when they can’t. If you see a pass and want to make it, a lot of people don’t care to understand how fast NBA defenses can move or shut down those passing lanes because, well, video game logic. I’m not saying double teams shouldn’t work in 2K, clearly those need help, but I don’t think it’s the answer to helping pick and roll defense in the best way possible.

NBA 2K22 gameplay focus

One other issue here with this initial interaction, and this is more specific to offline play, is ACE or whatever does not adapt. The AI does not realize double teaming is useless, and it also does not do enough to try and change up coverages. At best, you just start slipping the big most of the time as the coverage gets more aggressive, and that’s just more easy points.

Helping The Helper

Beyond the initial pick and roll defensive interaction, backline help defense is obviously the other major component, and this seems like a couple of smaller problems that add up rather than one obvious thing that stands out.

I’ll start with a more intricate pet peeve here at the top, which relates a lot to online games. This footage is provided by my good buddy alabamarob on OS, and it shows that the “Leave Now” and “Pre-Rotate” settings just don’t work for online game-planning purposes, which you can see here.

NBA 2K22 pre-rotate

This heavily impacts our ability to create defenses that specifically get designed to halt certain pick and roll actions because we can’t even be that coach who is directing our five defenders.

This is compounded by the next issue, which is that the help defense “button” can’t be trusted. When you press that button, it is not clear what defender will help. Obviously, if we set a player to “leave now” we would logically want that defender to come help, but that’s not always what happens. Instead, sometimes we get a help defender leaving some great shooter in the corner to help.

Beyond that issue, bigs give up straight-line drives too often, and there are not enough contact animations at the rim either, but those things are somewhat secondary to the other issues — and those matter more for stopping 5 out and paint points, which is not the exact point of this video.

NBA 2K22 contact animations

However, off-ball animations are another issue. They don’t exist in some scenarios anymore because 2K seemed to feel that off-ball players doing swim moves and other things to get around screens was pulling defenders way out of position from a team-defense perspective. So, instead, unless these animations get initiated by the off-ball defender, you have a lot of “force field” scenarios where players end up taking these wide turns to get around players. Or they’ll run in place. Ultimately, these outcomes still pull them out of position just like they were before when they were over-animating. In other words, it seems one problem was substituted for another.

TTO Vs. 5-on-5

NBA 2K22 TTO

I want to end this with a final observation. I think 2K actually gets pretty close to fixing a lot of these help-the-helper issues in Triple Threat game modes before it then falls apart in 5-on-5 gameplay. I have some clips of the Triple Threat modes here going in the background, and it’s interesting to note how much more sound the defenders seem to be when just needing to focus on 3 players. On top of that, the on-ball defender does seem to deal with the initial screen better a lot of the time, which helps make things easier for the hedging big.

Bottom Line

As of now, there is generally a 3 outcomes system to me with pick and rolls:

  1. The hedge defender will actually come up and make the switch in an appropriate fashion or hedge and recover to the paint.
  2. The hedge defender will stand still and watch as you drive or shoot — essentially doing nothing.
  3. The hedge defender will ignore the dribbler and only pay attention to the screener, which leads to lots of straight-line drives if the primary defender gets held up at all.

I care about improving these outcomes before lots of other things on defense because outside of isolation play, the pick and roll is what you’re most likely to see moment to moment. You’re not going to see intricate double-high screens and Terry Stotts fade actions when playing most people, you’re going to see someone press the pick and roll button and try to go to work.

MLB The Show 21 pitching

It’s like the pitcher-hitter interaction in MLB The Show. If you don’t nail that aspect, then you don’t have a game in some ways — at least not one that I want to come back to each and every day. So making the pick and roll feel as dynamic as possible to create that chess match is key to making NBA 2K22 a better game on the court.

I want to thank the OS peeps for a lot of this video. All the footage, except the stuff from alabamarob is my own, but we talked so much about pick and roll defense throughout the year in this thread and elsewhere, and it really helped crystallize a lot of things. Those sort of threads are why I continue to love OS, and all the people that contributed to it with videos, sliders, etc. are awesome. We’re going to get gameplay news very soon, and we’ll hope for the best, but I hope we can have similar conversations about the pick and roll again this year, just with hopefully some better outcomes and breakdowns.

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  1. I transcribed the entire video in article form as well if you click on the link. If you just want to read it, then coolio, but hey, also like the video too even if you only want to read it to show appreciation!
    I also say this in the article but want to put it here as well:
    I want to thank the OS peeps for a lot of this video. All the footage, except the stuff from alabamarob is my own, but we talked so much about pick and roll defense throughout the year in this thread and elsewhere, and it really helped crystallize a lot of things. Those sort of threads are why I continue to love OS, and all the people that contributed to it with videos, sliders, etc. are awesome. We’re going to get gameplay news very soon, and we’ll hope for the best, but I hope we can have similar conversations about the pick and roll again this year, just with hopefully some better outcomes and breakdowns.
    Hell of a write up. Great points. I agree with what you wrote here.
    1. The on ball defense in 2k21 next gen is damn near perfect.
    2. If they fix the defensive settings to work this will fix the majority of the issues. If the leave him option worked and guys were constantly in help position, we could user the rest.
    3. The PNR big now looks like Kanter. I would love to see a huge gap between in pnr defense between John Collins and Clint Capela.
    Another reason why double teams are ineffective in 2k is because there is no “ball pressure” mechanism when it comes to passing. Passes still go to their intended target even if you have a 7 footer in the passer’s line of sight.
    Once they make on-ball pressure account for more than directing the ball handler on drives and jump shot contests the game will go the next level.
    alabamarob
    1. The on ball defense in 2k21 next gen is damn near perfect.

    This is what gives me hope for the future. Czar specifically said in a stream last year (when he announced he was taking over defense, I think) that his first/main priority was making sure guys could guard the ball this year. And like you, I think they nailed it.
    Hoping that means with more time they'll be able to bring that level of improvement to deeper levels of defense (help, P+R, etc.) as well.
    alabamarob
    Hell of a write up. Great points. I agree with what you wrote here.
    1. The on ball defense in 2k21 next gen is damn near perfect.
    2. If they fix the defensive settings to work this will fix the majority of the issues. If the leave him option worked and guys were constantly in help position, we could user the rest.
    3. The PNR big now looks like Kanter. I would love to see a huge gap between in pnr defense between John Collins and Clint Capela.

    Most AI bigs are basically Kanter in the pick and roll, think that's a good way of putting it.
    alabamarob
    Hell of a write up. Great points. I agree with what you wrote here.
    1. The on ball defense in 2k21 next gen is damn near perfect..

    People will probably disagree with you, but this is exactly why 2K H2H modes need to be on HOF, or replicate the sliders as far as defense goes.
    Great article Chase!
    Sent from my SM-G781U using Tapatalk
    The 24th Letter
    People will probably disagree with you, but this is exactly why 2K H2H modes need to be on HOF, or replicate the sliders as far as defense goes.
    Great article Chase!
    Sent from my SM-G781U using Tapatalk

    Yeah. A lot of the good sim players don’t fool with HOF. However, I don’t really accept complaints about the game unless you play on HOF.
    On HOF you can destroy a weak defender on ball, and a good defender can lock you up. You can get space for shots (shot aiming), and get to the rim. It was the first year where on ball or off ball didn’t matter versus a user. I personally felt it was easier to beat the cpu off the defender.
    Defensive Settings, green releases, and help/pnr defense are the only issues left in this game. Everything else is beyond good imo.
    alabamarob
    Yeah. A lot of the good sim players don’t fool with HOF. However, I don’t really accept complaints about the game unless you play on HOF.

    To be fair, Da Czar warns people often to not play on Hall of Fame if they want a realistic experience, and that dude knows his stuff.
    VictorMG
    To be fair, Da Czar warns people often to not play on Hall of Fame if they want a realistic experience, and that dude knows his stuff.

    I think when playing against the AI it's a fair thing for him to say. Against users it's a little easier to make a case for HOF. It's sometimes tricky for shooting depending on how it's tuned that year, but it comes with other perks. Plus, shooting is wholly tricky to discuss anyway because green releases (and that they exist) goof everything up anyway on every level if a person gets good enough at shot timing/aiming.
    VictorMG
    To be fair, Da Czar warns people often to not play on Hall of Fame if they want a realistic experience, and that dude knows his stuff.

    Da Czar is great at what he does. However, I am sure there are tons of sim guys who play way more h2h games then Da Czar. Czar on his streams will actually infer that he spends more time making and fixing the game then playing.
    But I can not say that HOF is objectively better. I just know that it is objectively easy to shoot on any other level then HOF.
    Smirkin Dirk
    This is why I’ve been on OS for 15 years. Great article Chase.

    Thanks boss, always nice to get praise from the Smirkin one.
    leoribas3
    Super accurate, way to put it all in a nut shell. Would you mind sharing what sliders do you play with offline?

    I'm not the best one to ask on that front. You can sort of follow what peeps were thinking with their testing here.
    AIRJ23
    I use custom sliders anyway, but what do they recommend if not HOF? Custom sliders I assume?

    When we did our sim leagues last year, we pretty much used straight up HOF difficulty with not much of any changes. It usually felt pretty good, you can see a highlight reel of one of our games here:
    You nailed the article. Really hoping more off ball help and rotation will open up the drive and kick game more. And the cpu needs to double mismatches in the post.
    Seems like the 2k developers have been paying attention. The dev blog today hit on these very same defensive issues. Let's hope the gameplay has improved.
    tb0622
    Seems like the 2k developers have been paying attention. The dev blog today hit on these very same defensive issues. Let's hope the gameplay has improved.

    Yeah, noticed that in the defense section as well. I'm hopeful.
    VictorMG
    To be fair, Da Czar warns people often to not play on Hall of Fame if they want a realistic experience, and that dude knows his stuff.

    I think thats in the context of playing against Cpu as they are overpowered. Playing on other modes made winning easy.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    JoFri
    I think thats in the context of playing against Cpu as they are overpowered. Playing on other modes made winning easy.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Yeah that spans across modes with the AI at times too, but it was more an issue on last gen I believe (especially with shooting by the AI). With next-gen games, even on the highest difficulty, this pick-and-roll issue (among some other things) sort of made most things moot from a difficulty standpoint.
    Chase,
    Great article. I just saw this and what's funny is I just wrote about this a few days ago. See my post below.
    I briefly talked about closeouts below, but I never really touched on the issue you also nailed with player movement off-ball in their defensive stances and your Brook Lopez example. Great addition and points! Anyways, thought I'd add my post in here as well as it relates directly to the subject matter...
    Again, a great read and very well done! I enjoyed it...
    vannwolfhawk
    The Pick & Roll Game - In The Real NBA & How It's Represented in 2K
    This is the most fundamental part of basketball. It’s the number 1 action in every basketball game at all levels. This has to be the number 1 thing that they get right from an execution standpoint, a sim standpoint, as well as a fun standpoint both offensively and defensively. I don’t think 2k captures the PNR game very well at all and I’ll explain why. I also want to state that this also applies to every DHO which also acts as a PNR on the roll after the DHO. It all applies all in the same.
    The funny thing is that this is probably a great time to bring this subject up anyways as more people are aware of all the bad AI defensively in the PNR last year and how it NEVER even got touched all cycle. The truth is it's been pretty bad for years on both sides of the ball. So, let's dive into why and what I am talking about...
    The Offensive PNR
    I will dive into spacing and plays to use upon release of 22 and the best ones to use after testing. But for now, I wanted to touch on a few things after playing with just the PNR game yesterday.
    What’s the point of the PNR? To create an advantage for the offense right? Whether they get a 2 on 1 advantage briefly or they cause a switch which in turn either creates a mismatch & an ISO opportunity that we are seeing more prevalent in today's game of basketball more than ever before.
    Now, if we get a 2 on 1 advantage and the ball-handlers defender is going over and chasing on drop coverage or on a hedge then this is where the 2 on 1 advantage comes in. These are places that we see the snake dribble being utilized with keeping a player behind the ball and in jail (Think Chris Paul here). This is also a place where we can make the lob pass, the pocket pass, or a floater when we read the big who is containing the ball handler in real basketball. When the offense has an advantage this, in turn, makes the defense need to adjust and rotate to tag and help the helper which can then cause drive & kick opportunities that lead to the extra pass & the 1 more pass opportunities like again we see in the real world of basketball. As a ball-handler/User, I need to read the big containing the dribble, the tag man, the help defenders, and from there I can make the proper read.
    However, in 2k these things do not work like this. We can't really execute the reads in a realistic or fun way the majority of the time. Now, I should preference this post by saying I play in 2k's broadcast mode so it's a tad harder to read openings compared to the 2k cam which is 1000x easier to make some plays but it's still not where it needs to be.
    As is now (or at least in 2k21 next-gen & every previous iteration of 2k LOL) we can't use the PNR like players do IRL. So, what is the solution?
    1 - I think it would go a LONG way for 2K to go the madden approach that they took this year with making the sprint button, not a sprint button but instead being an acceleration button only. This will go a long way in separating movement and it would be especially useful in coming off PNR's (as well as DHO's & ISO's which I will get into later) & the speed of a player could then be controlled by slight stick movements on the stick to determine the speed of your player, and then use the speed burst only to accelerate around the pick or if there is a gap to attack if need be.
    2 - I try and simulate setting the screen up by holding LT to back down the defender so I can set up the screen so I have a better angle to attack off of the screen just like I teach my players in real life. That works pretty well except for the fact the player guarding the ball most times slips past the screener either underneath or over sometimes before I even go to use the screen. The problem here is 2 things and 1 that I will touch on later on with the defensive side of the PNR breakdown.
    But 1st, let's discuss the advantage that I should be able to start to create after using the ball screen. If the defense is in drop coverage or the trailing defender is chasing over the screen then this is where 2k doesn't capture the most important & fun part of basketball. This is where we make a play, we make a decision, we create, and we make a read on the defensive coverage. I should be able to snake, put that trailing defender in jail, & make the big commit to me and force the defense to HAVE to help. However, we can not do this in 2k. They claimed they added this 2 years ago but it's horribly applied and so inconsistent.
    The question is why not? Well, a few things here. Number 1 is spacing. It's such a jumbled mess with 4 guys essentially filling a small area at the top of the key and it's just a cluttered mess. How can we snake dribble when there is no space to even pull it off or if the defender gets back in front of the ball too easily? Number 2 the sliding by the CPU defensive players and the lack of an effect of the ball screen as the ball handling defender really has no effects of a screen being set and can magically recover to negate the advantage. It's almost like the screener is skinny and not wide enough with a solid base to set the screen. Number 3 the big doesn't drop down far enough to protect the hoop & can very easily play 2 players far too effectively IMO. Number 4 the screens should take place slightly higher up on the floor to create better spacing. However, I usually try and get plays into the game that solve this issue for both the CPU and users. And lastly, number 5 the animations are driven, and there is far too much warping that happens within the PNR and allowing players to recover that end up killing the best part of basketball.
    Once we come off the PNR, this is again where we create, decision make, & make reads. This will lead me into the defensive side a bit now, but if the PNR defensive rotations and scramble logic work properly while not being cheesy with crazy warping into closeout's then 2k can live with having the 2 man PNR at the top of the key work properly by saying it's OK if the PNR creates an advantage for a second or 2 up top because that's the defensive coverage they (ACE or User) chose to use and are in. If they keep getting beat in THAT coverage then they should switch everything, go under, soft or hard hedge. That's why those options exist & are there.
    2K needs to be ok with having the defender get caught up on the top of the screen. I'm not saying like caught on a brick wall every time but they need to add some animations in a few things like number 1 a slithery foot over top chase around the screen (behind the offensive ball-handler), and number 2 add some animations that have the PNR screener drop stepping & rolling to the hoop PROPERLY while this defender can't just magically warp through or slide through the screener. 2k tries to make the AI recover and speed up unrealistically which ruins it. If the help D is programmed properly then that's basketball and you need to adjust to what's happening as a coach/player. That's why teams switch coverages & why offenses run the PNR in the 1st place! LOL! In real life, you are seeing more players jump out almost like ICE defense on PNR's at the midline and top of the key areas to make sure they push the ball handler into the screen to almost be in a better position to chase in drop coverage. Not level with the screen like in 2K. We might also want to think about getting both screeners to turn and angle into a screen as well as defensive players jumping out to ICE it & force 1 way which might also help in turn of all aspects of the execution within the PNR game.
    I will say on 1 positive note a few years back that 2K finally got rid of the contested jumpers that were happening with defenders coming from behind a player (chasing over the top) on mid-range pull-up jumpers that were very frustrating in the PNR mid-range game.
    3 - What is the mechanic for the put in jail move by the way? Are there animations for this? This is a legitimate strategy nowadays especially with drop coverage being so prevalent & it is what creates the floater game and makes it so effective. That's the NBA game today within the PNR mini-game. Look at Chris Paul & Trey Young last year who put on a clinic in the playoffs with the snake dribble & put in jail PNR game. So, we need this in the game.
    This is another part that is just infuriating to me. I want to come off the screen, put the defender in jail, read the defense (drop coverage) & make a read. Simple basketball.
    Read A - Big defender steps up to stop ball & no tag or help = Lob for dunk or pocket pass
    Read B - Big defender stays home and tries to guard 2 players = Floater
    Read C - Big defender steps up, weak side tags the roll = I make a kick-out pass
    These are very simple reads and concepts that we can not do currently with any type of consistency or with any rhyme or reason to it. The poor spacing and CPU speed recovery make for small windows if any to even use a floater. As is now the CPU bigs can play 2 players WAY too effectively & that's not even talking about the on-ball defender who warps back in front of the play to also disrupt the play from behind.
    The same thing goes with the snake dribble. You can't even simulate that or do it in this game. I'd love for someone to prove me wrong and show me. Again a fundamental part of the PNR in drop coverage and we can't do it in this game.
    4 - The pocket pass. Does everyone know what that is? If you play 2k probably not. LOL! Has anyone ever used that in a 2k game? OK, better question if you have used it was there a rhyme or reason why you did use it? There was a game a few years back (can't remember what iteration?) where I used it but it was Ok. Think John Stockton and Karl Malone and the bounce pass (YES I SAID BOUNCE PASS) for the catch and finish. Now, this is something that would apply for anything outside drop coverage and in the hedge game. As is now this isn't even an option to use in the most fundamental part of the game. I would love to have the ability to read the defensive big and if he steps up then make that small pocket bounce pass (of course reading the tag defender if he never came over). As it is now your only options are to shoot mid-range, lay-up/dunk, or a lob pass. The pocket pass needs to be a part of the decision-making process of the user. With no spacing / bad spacing in the PNR & in the paint and magic hands of a BIG defender stealing that pass if you do make it (yes reaching to his ankles to palm the steal) it's all but a guessing game of 50/50 if it even works and it's not because of making the proper read it's only because you're hoping by chance it works.
    I mentioned this above in an earlier post in this thread about the lack of RAM screenplays in the game & running sprint screens which again is so prevalent in today's NBA game. But this is a prime example of when we potentially are able to use the pocket pass and create advantageous situations in these types of plays or situations along with the split-screen (I will get to shortly). In every NBA game today, you see a ton of running screens, ghost screens, & RAM screens to make it hard for the defender to hedge on the screen and create chaos and miscommunication within the defense. In turn, this creates either a switch or puts the defense into a quick drop coverage. The whole point is to create an advantage for the offense. Again this is a spacing issue, but the defender can play 2 way too easy & the spacing isn't done very well. It's also an issue with the RAM screen not making contact or the screen defender sprinting up faster than should be able to get into position. There is a lack of these plays within the game currently as again I spoke on in an earlier post (see above). I will say however these are the best plays to use in the PNR to get as close to reading PNR situations as we should be getting in all PNR's...
    5 - Splitting screens. Same thing as the example in #4 with running and RAM screens. Perfect time to execute the split-screen. What's the mechanic to pull this move off? Is there an animation to explode through & keep the ball low while splitting the screen? Nope, we can't do this move in 2K either when appropriate. Again, I think having the sprint button be an acceleration button here would be awesome. Think madden and the RB who sees the hole and you hit accelerate to go through it. This is just another area where the PNR game can improve.
    6 - PNR screeners whether on ball screens or DHO's need to do 3 fundamental things that will go a LONG ways in helping the execution of the PNR & DHO!
    a) Get wide base (seems like they are skinny sometimes) & make contact. Maybe even some leaning animations? We need to get the defensive player to have to fight around the screen better.
    b) Drop Step (which should keep the player behind the ball when going over the top not allowing the defender to just slide back in front of the ball handler
    c) This is the most important one! RIM RUN and dive immediately and hard & fast to the rim after setting the screen. Take a direct straight-line path and stop these curved routes to the rim. Too often the screener takes way too long to roll to where he needs to be and that's oftentimes the problem with spacing, the recoveries, the drop player to easily playing 2 which makes the reads tougher. After DHO's they hardly ever roll at all.
    Just like in the Chicago Action (see above post) where I talked about the non-execution of that action in 2K with the big not rolling this has to happen as this is what puts pressure on the defense and creates the spacing needed to then make decisions on both sides of the ball.
    The Defensive PNR
    So, I touched on the defense briefly in explaining the offense but let's put it in its own area now... I will list a few things that need to work to add balance on the defensive side of the PNR.
    1 - The rotations, the right tag man, the help the helper, etc all need to work properly. 2K has 1000 plays and probably 250 PNR plays in the game. i think of madden with how many offensive plays and how many defensive plays they have. Think zone coverage in madden. Each play has to match up with formations, route combinations, etc for them to work properly against one another with different concepts otherwise you get money plays, etc as users get their hands on the game. Same thing with 2k as some coverages or logic probably don't match up with certain actions?
    Now, my point is why do we need so many plays in 2K (stick with me on this as I know I am the plays guy, and believe me I want it all in LOL), but I am only talking about basic PNR's. So we probably only need 15-20 basic PNR's from the top of the key, wing, etc with different players in different spots like we have the single side, the 2 side, & short corner plays occupied to accommodate each team's personnel. I mean when we are talking basic PNR's here so there is only a few we need and it could be beneficial to simplify this as well as it would help familiarity between playbooks for Timmy or Bobby as they play multiple teams.
    Anyways, so what this would do though is help to make it easier to focus DEFENSIVELY on the proper rotations to stop those 15 plays rather than 250 of them. I get there needs to be basic defensive logic built-in for the other things but I am strictly just talking about the basic PNR's here only.
    This would really allow them to lock in the defensive AI, rotations, and scramble logic within each play. They could cover all scenarios of if a pass goes, here, then there, etc. How teams scramble to recover easier.
    2 - In doing what I stated above we can now fundamentally ALLOW the PNR defense to work properly because we know our backside rotations and scramble logic are working properly. So, we can afford to allow the advantage, slow the 2 man top PNR game down, and eliminate the warping & recovery speeds on the ball.
    Now, without going into another long tangent on closeout's this is another big issue gameplay-wise. If the CPU typically has long closeouts they sprint into them, and if I pump fake and they bite, I should be able to blow by them on a bad closeout. But in 2k they typically magically recover to get a bump animation more times than not. Is this to also cover bad scramble logic? That's a whole different rabbit hole for another day but it goes hand in hand with proper rotations out of 1 more pass opportunities & scrambles that also have a lot to do with realism. it's why I actually loved 2k18 blowby animations because it eliminated the BS closeouts and stone walls... Anyways, moving on...
    3 - Now with having proper defensive AI, rotations & scrambles this now allows them to slow the defense down in the 2 man PNR game up top as well as allow more spacing in the paint. Get rid of the warping & magic recoveries. This is one of the biggest things needed IMO. The game of basketball is fast, the reads need to be fast, so don't misconstrue what I am saying here. We still need to make it tough and the decisions need to be split second but we also need the ability to be able to perform a snake dribble, put the defender in jail, split the PNR, & read the defense. What I am saying is to get rid of the warp speed recoveries & sliding, let the users have fun, and make game-style decisions.
    4 - I have talked about this before within the context of DHO's but the same applies to PNR's, & even Isolations on the perimeter. When you hit acceleration/speed burst in all of these scenarios as well as immediately after a DHO you get stuck in an animation of where a player gets stuck in the mud for a split second to allow the defense to recover. THAT NEEDS TO GO AWAY FOREVER! It literally is killing all areas of the game & I think it's to help cover up the poor defensive programming and to help cover up some of those glaring issues everyone saw last year?!
    If I have a player beat off the dribble in the iso cross and he bites & I want to explode to attack why am I punished for making the right read? If I use a DHO (The whole point is to create an advantage and the defensive player must fight through the screen/DHO) then why can't I get the step on the defender and attack? Why do I get stuck in mud split-second animation? And lastly, if I am running a PNR and turn the corner to accelerate and explode why again am I punished to let the defense recover? I can only think these are design decisions to allow the CPU to recover and hide flaws in defensive AI?
    5 - All of the above leads me to foot planting. The power of next-gen and the ability to now apply foot planting is mostly great! But for some reason, this goes out the window for PNR defense LOL! Let's keep the physics true to life throughout. I saw they added a slithery off-ball badge & cutting off-ball is more true to life. This year they are adding chase technology for floppy's and fighting to chase around screens off-ball. I am really hoping this also applies to on-ball as well.
    This could be another way to differentiate great PNR defenders like Jrue Holiday from average defenders. Things like they added years ago with the pick dodger badge. I am all for that and some players having quicker animations to fight through and get a high leg over screens but not every player in the league. And certainly not every big defender defending PNR coverages like Rudy Gobert. Players like Gobert should be the gold standard for defending drop coverage & the PNR. Not every player should be able to guard 2 players effectively like a Gobert.
    Conclusion
    So, to conclude what we need is the defensive AI to properly rotate. We need better spacing in the top of the key 2 man game. We need a ball handler's decision-making to be a priority (not just slam turbo and either take a jumper, throw a lob, or dunk). Everyone is so used to hit turbo to come off picks with absolutely no skill involved with it. Maybe even a jump stop button? Maybe that button if held could operate as the put the defender behind the ball handler and in jail if held? Just thinking out loud... I think all in all we need the PNR game to slow down. Less sliding, warping, and allow the offensive advantage to take place as it should depending on matchups, coverage choice, how the offensive player uses the screen, who is setting the screen, & lastly, the roll man must roll hard and fast to the rim for spacing purposes. All of those things SHOULD matter. Have the defense play it properly & rotate or adjust coverages whether by a user or in ACE if they are getting killed in this specific over & drop coverages. Stop punishing the users and the game of basketball for bad programming.
    The PNR is the most fundamental part of the game of basketball & they need to have this as the number 1 priority as it's the number 1 play called in every single basketball game at all levels. It's the most fun but in 2k it's not & it needs to be. It's like the trenches in football which madden struggles with. The number 1 thing goes completely ignored every year. It makes no sense.
    As you can see the PNR game leaves a lot to be desired and is WAY off in catching realistic NBA action that we see on TV. I want the PNR game to matter and to be fun yet still realistic on both sides of the ball! You can also see though that this is complicated and there are a lot of moving parts working together here. There are numerous issues that need to be solved within just 1 aspect of the game, but it's the biggest aspect of basketball which means this has to be priority #1 moving forward.
    The bottom line is the PNR should be fun & realistic and right now it’s neither.
    Thoughts?
    __________________________________________________________________________________
    Edit: So I was watching the Czars video today that he posted. I want you to start watching this video from the 5:05 mark to about the 7:40 mark.
    https://youtu.be/brZxwU1KfBQ
    This is what this whole post was about. It worried me what he said about how in 22 this will be faster as far as players (on-ball defenders) getting through the pick. But I liked that he said the drop player will not be able to play 2 as easily. I also liked hearing that tight coverage on the ball has a higher pickup point near half-court which might need to be a universal setting we make in all coaching adjustments to get more spacing and realistic drop PNR coverage. (Unless it's Ben Simmons) :-)
    But the problem as you can see in the video is everything I listed above. The ball handler is 3-4 feet past the screener before the screener even rolls. The ball defender is already basically recovered to his man before the roll. There is no drop step to roll from the screener to make getting out to the ball handler tougher for the on-the-ball defender. Coaching Point - The roll is so slow and delayed as well as you can see that it's curved and not a direct path to the rim in a rim run roll. These are all the issues I have with the PNR as I stated above.
    The other issue is the help should never come from the strong side guy especially if he is a good shooter. It should be the weak side bottom low defender (his man is the least threat on the floor in this position) and the weak side wing defender should drop to be playing 2 if necessary on ball reversal or what have you. He mentioned help might come from the strong side if the drop player or on-ball defender can't contain the ball handler. Now, this depends on the coverage if Lebron is going under the screen or is in over-drop coverage this would change the coverage responsibilities.
    Nothing about how this PNR scenario that was run is fundamentally how you would coach, teach, or execute a PNR offensively.
    Now he talks about movement being better in 22 and that it's tough, but my main concern in this video is they nerfed the defense to be faster without also fixing the offensive issues so there won't be a balance here. Don't get me wrong I love the part about the drop player & hearing there will be more drive and kick opportunities but having the roll man stuck while the ball handler is 3-4 feet already past the screen is not sim. LOL! BUT I will say that MAYBE speeding up the ball handler to get through means that the screener will also roll quicker so I will reserve judgment until we see 22 as this whole point could be mute?! Fingers crossed!
    2 last points that could help here.
    #1 - Is instead of having the screener be stationery maybe we have the screener do a better job of headhunting contact on the screen better. After watching this more that could be extremely helpful. I mean we all see how they do that in the real NBA, put a shoulder out to create slight contact that is never consistently called by referees. I get it's by the book illegal but it's happening and could do wonders for the PNR game to be more realistic.
    #2 - I want everyone to look at the angle or lack thereof with the screen being set being parallel with the hoop (No Bueno). BUT Czar does say that was a problem with pickup points with the on-ball defender being sagged off and too flat off the ball handler in 21. So that could help in 22. But moving on... Also, look at the location of the screen that is set being below the 3point line. This has to be higher up on the floor and the lowest post should be straddled on the 3 point line but really should be above it for spacing purposes.
    I get it though there are a lot of moving parts and like Czar said the movement system might not be where we need it yet and it's a 3-year cycle of implementation. So, maybe I am wanting something the system just isn't capable of doing just yet... But at least maybe this is a good reference point for them to think about and work on moving forward to try and correct to get the PNR game tighter and more realistic...

    Here is the thread I posted in the roster section talking about some other key basketball concepts that also need some work...
    https://forums.operationsports.com/forums/nba-2k-basketball-rosters/991927-nba-x-s-o-s.html#post2050455053
    I re-downloaded 2K20, grabbed a current roster and played a game this morning. Had a lot of fun. The cpu Defense against PNR is so different than 21 next gen. The cpu is very aggressive. They hedge hard and it kind of stunned me. Defensive help is clearly better.
    alabamarob
    Hell of a write up. Great points. I agree with what you wrote here.
    1. The on ball defense in 2k21 next gen is damn near perfect.
    2. If they fix the defensive settings to work this will fix the majority of the issues. If the leave him option worked and guys were constantly in help position, we could user the rest.
    3. The PNR big now looks like Kanter. I would love to see a huge gap between in pnr defense between John Collins and Clint Capela.

    OG AROB! Yep, you are seeing another YETI sighting...
    1 - Not so sure I agree, but I know why you are saying that for sure with the difference between players and guys who should beat mismatches can at will... That part I do agree with. But even on the Czar's video today he talked about the gaps and pick-up points on the ball in different coverages and the struggles with motion stuff in certain areas.
    2 - A lot to fix on both sides still imo
    3 - Completely agree & also agree with Chase on this as far as the rotation of different players like this as well in & outside of the PNR in help D...
    And just because I want to say it... What did I tell you about Lloyd pierce 4 years ago? Just saying... LOL
    The 24th Letter
    People will probably disagree with you, but this is exactly why 2K H2H modes need to be on HOF or replicate the sliders as far as defense goes.
    Sent from my SM-G781U using Tapatalk

    I'd agree with this to a point but most probably wouldn't agree with me when I said I really liked 18's on the ball D with the blow-by's either. To each their own... LOL
    Funny ... i'm still on 19. Gameplay is good and the cpu pnr defense is random too (most of the time drop D, but thats ok as I can make use of the snake dribble to shield off my defender). I can also set cpu playing switch on me (then i'll go with mismatch iso game). Either way, the cpu will adjust and mix the defense up like throwing double team or hard hedge after a while (with Ace on).
    The only issue I saw was the random switch glitch where the onball defender would suddenly leave and the other defender switch on me when my pick is approaching on certain play, like PUNCH 5OUT 2.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    JoFri
    Funny ... i'm still on 19. Gameplay is good and the cpu pnr defense is random too (most of the time drop D, but thats ok as I can make use of the snake dribble to shield off my defender).

    I know you said 19 but I’d love to see video of you doing this with the snake dribble and putting defender in jail! Can you go into practice mode and record like 25 in a row. I’d like to see this performed and then see the consistency that you can perform it with.

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