NBA 2K21 Next-Gen AI Defense Details: A Better Direction Under Da Czar’s Leadership

2K is cleaning up the code for the defensive AI for Next-Gen NBA 2K21. After recent departures within the company, @DaCzar has taken over as the lead for the defensive AI. Under Da Czar’s leadership, 2K is taking AI defense in a different direction – a better direction.

In a recent 43 minute NBA 2K21 Next-Gen defensive discussion live stream, Da Czar goes through many of the changes that were made. Read on for the full summary.


  • Had 6-8 weeks to work on it after taking over, made some Next-Gen advancements, thinks it’ll take another year to fully grasp it.
  • Defense can get a lot better with the vast engine it’s built on
  • Defensively, 2K is “restarting”, creating a base to build off of
  • Went through and cleaned up the data
  • Thinks gamers will be pleased with the direction 2K is headed in defensively
  • He thinks this is the strongest 2K has been (defensively) for some time
  • Cleaned up defensive positioning — staying in spots that make more sense
  • Changes to the Pick and Roll defense, better rotations, more instances of help defense
  • Switching on defense has been improved
  • You’ll have defensive options that you can choose that help vs just about every situation
  • More situational decision making that factors in personnel e.g. defenders will go over screens vs shooters like Steph Curry, Trae Young, etc.
  • Less double teams, double teams are now a “last resort”. A player will have to go off for something like 40 or 50 pts to trigger a double team. This is because other defensive tools are being used to stop the offense.
  • May make improvements to defense throughout the year in patches
  • Prioritized trying to eliminate the “why did the AI do that” type of situations
  • Drastically improved transition defense


  • Designed AI with the philosophy to “keep the ball in front of them”
  • Defensive pressure is more realistic, not an “all or nothing” pressure


  • Ball movement along the perimeter will be easier
  • Pick and pops, drive and kick, and more ball swing opportunities should be more effective/open vs the AI this year.
  • The game will feel more open and free

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