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Final 'NBA 2K21' Next-Gen Courtside Report Focuses on MyPLAYER & Game AI

Source: 2K / NBA 2K21

It’s almost time to take that leap to the next generation of NBA 2K21. The final courtside report highlights the improvements and changes coming to MyPlayer.

NBA 2K21 next-gen’s second courtside report focused on the new movement and impact technology. The great enhancements Xbox Series S/X and PS5 owners will experience thanks to the new PS5 controller’s haptic feedback feature. NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang is back for the third and final report, and it will focus on the 2K community’s favorite mode, MyPLAYER.

Wang immediately details that based on 2K community feedback calling for more options for the MyPLAYER building experience. In response, 2K will be doing away with the preset skill breakdown pie charts for next-gen. Instead, you now have control over setting each individual rating to the cap that you prefer. There are also new badges to acquire and some updates to old favorites, while some you had access to in the current-gen NBA 2K21 has been removed. Here are some of the new and returning badges below.

  • Fearless Finisher – Boosts contact layups and decreases fatigue.
  • Heat Seeker – Boosts takeover progress on inside shots.
  • Highlight Film – Boosts teammate takeover progress on flashy dunks.
  • Hook Specialist – Boosts hook shot ability.
  • Revived Posterizer – Contact dunks!
  • Rise Up – Boosts ability to do standing dunks in traffic.
  • Anti-Freeze – Harder to get cold and lose takeover meter progress
  • Blinders – Less affected by peripheral defenders when shooting jumpers
  • Circus Threes – Improved ability to hit pull-up and stepback 3’s
  • Fade Ace – Boosts all post fadeaways.
  • Hot Shot – Increases takeover meter faster when knocking down jumpers.
  • Deep Threes – Dame and Curry range 3 balls
  • Rhythm Shooter – Boosts shot %s out of size-ups as well as 1-step pull-ups.
  • Set Shooter – Shooting ability gets better the longer you set and wait before pulling.
  • Sniper – Boosts the ability to hit shots when using Pro Stick aiming.
  • Stop & Pop Three – for the JJ Redicks who want to pull-up for threes in transition
  • Bullet Passer – Gives you the ability to throw laser dots like LeBron.
  • Relay Passer – Boosts the shooter on pass to assist situations.
  • Special Delivery – Boosts takeover progress for the passer and receiver off a flashy pass assist
  • Ankle Braces – Makes it tougher for ball handlers to break your ankles.
  • Clutch Defender – Boosts your defensive ratings in clutch moments.
  • Hot Stopper – Boosts takeover meter for good defensive plays like steals, blocks, and good contests.

These badges were tossed in the trash bin because the community didn’t like them. Consistent Finisher, Contact Finisher, Cross-Key Scorer, Fancy Footwork, Fastbreak Finisher, Deep Hooks, Pick & Roller, Relentless Finisher, Showtime, Deep Fades, Flexible Release, Hot Start, Pick & Popper, Pump Fake Maestro, Range Extender, Quick Draw, Steady Shooter, Pass Fake Maestro, Flashy Passer, Lob City Passer, Lightning Reflexes, Moving Truck.

Takeover, you know, the feature that gives your MyPLAYER the ability to get hot and take over a game will also see some improvements in NBA 2K21 next-gen. It will no longer be broken down into eight general archetype-based takeovers. Instead, it will be 24 more specific takeover abilities or, as Wang describes them, “unique badges that you can fire off when you get hot.”

  • Advanced Gathers – Unlocks more effective spin, euro, hop step, cradle gathers.
  • Finishing Moves – Able to absorb contact and finish at the rim
  • Easy Blowbys – Enhances the ability for slashers to beat defenders off the dribble.
  • Pull-Up Precision – Boosts well-timed/aimed shots off the dribble.
  • Ankle breaking Shots – More ankle breakers off of spin and stepback jumpers
  • Negative Impact – Reduces defensive impact against pull-ups and other skill shots.
  • Limitless Range – Extends your shooting range out to the logos.
  • Spot-Up Precision – Boosts well-timed/aimed stationary jump shots.
  • Team Ratings Boost – Playmakers boost their teammates’ offensive ratings.
  • Team Takeover Boost – Boost your teammates’ takeover meter progress
  • Team Badge Boost – Boosts your teammates’ badges up a tier.
  • Extreme Clamps – More stone wall and lost dribble body-up resolutions for locks
  • Perimeter Badge Drop – Knocks shooting badges down a tier when you get close.
  • Enhanced Jump Shot Contests – Boosts your ability to contest jumpers.
  • Stuff Blocks – Unlocks more swat, backboard pins, and grab blocks.
  • Paint Intimidation – Boosts your ability to affect shots around the rim.
  • Interior Badge Drop – Drops opposition’s scoring badges down a tier in the paint.
  • Boxout Wall – Improves the ability to seal off opponents for easy boards.
  • See the Future – Shows where missed shots are going to end up.
  • Glass Clearing Dimes – After rebounds, kick-out passes boost your teammate’s shooting
  • Power Backdowns – Easier to push defenders around when posting up
  • Post Playmaking – Boost your teammates’ offensive abilities when passing out of the post
  • Advanced Post Moves – Easier to beat defenders with post moves.
  • Post Shot Daggers – Increased scoring ability with hooks, fades, shimmy shots, etc.

Another cool update coming to Takeover will also honor the late Kobe Bryant as well. When you have earned all your badge points, you will be blessed with the Mamba Mentality badge allowing you to change your takeovers whenever you want, making you just like Kobe Bean on the court when he took over various aspects of the game.


New switching logic update: Both on-ball and off-ball screen logic has been rewritten, and the auto-switching logic was refined to reduce bad switching instances. So expect to see fewer cases of the AI calling for a switch without a screen and leaving a player open.

Adaptive Coaching Engine (ACE) now has the ability to recognize and adapt to different types of off-ball actions, including Flare screens, Down screens, Back screens, and Handoffs.

Improved logic for CPU defenders to get in position to take charges.

Several improvements to transition defense.

Overhauled the Hedge defensive system for better screen positioning and angle targeting.

The player can now call for help defense by holding L1/LB instead of just calling for a double team. This is a great mechanic that you can use when guarding the ball; instead of hoping the AI selects the right time to send help, it’s now under your control with a simple press and hold of the button.

Improved logic for defenders in avoiding each other when moving around obstacles. This works hand-in-hand with the off-ball movement changes I detailed in last week’s blog.

NBA 2K21 will also feature next-gen AI. Here are the much-welcomed improvements you can look forward to on both sides of the ball:


Next-Gen Game Planning: This is a great new feature that allows players and AI to have more specific game plans for their teams. In the past, you could choose to run pick & rolls with LeBron, but the new system allows the AI to target a team’s best players. So for the Lakers, not only will they run pick & rolls, but you can have them run exclusively with LeBron and Anthony Davis. There’s a new game plan option in the pause menu. Here, players can select between 8 preselected game plans that they can access in-game through the On-The-Fly-Coaching panel (OTFC). Each game plan has default options already set up for them, so the player can pick a single option and have all the important details for that game plan ready to go. Here are two examples of game plans you can choose:

Play Through Star: This game plan will have ACE automatically select the best scorer on the team and only run-scoring actions for them, both via plays and freelance actions. It also sets the tempo and rebounding choices automatically to accommodate your star’s playing style.

Pound the Ball Inside: ACE auto-selects the best post scorer on the team and will exclusively run post scoring actions and plays for them.

Double team counterintelligence: You’ll see the AI using less movement and create more spacing for shooters spotting up behind the three-point line to punish excessive double teaming.

End of game logic: Improved the AI’s ability to time plays with the shot clock for buzzer-beater situations.

Starters and Bench Favorite Plays: This year, we expanded the favorite plays to allow players to set up one group of plays for their starting unit and another group of plays for the bench units.

Moved player-specific plays and player-specific ball screens back to the L1/LB button. This was something many people were requesting so they could get quick access to icon pick control again. Favorite plays are now mapped to the DPAD.

Play and freelance flow: As we have done every year, the play and freelance offensive flow have been greatly improved, moving to next-gen. There are several actions that we just had a hard time getting to run smoothly in past 2K games, but thanks to the logic upgrades and vastly improved motion engine, everything flows extremely well in NBA 2K21 for next-gen.

Fixed AI players accidentally positioning themselves out of bounds.

New pick & roll spacing: New spacing code gives some of our pick & roll, and isolation sets that extra adjustment on dribble penetration. It’s much more solid now but expects continued expansion on this module as the year goes along with our in-season play and AI updates.

NBA 2K21 next-gen arrives November 10 for Xbox Series X|S and November 12 for PlayStation 5.

Photo: 2K / NBA 2K21