NBA 2K Wants To Encourage You To Play On-Ball Defense

Do you play on or off-ball defense in NBA 2K?

That’s one of those questions that has become a bizarre and largely ridiculous judge of someone’s mettle in the 2K universe–at least as it pertains to the 5-on-5 world.

For those who are unaware, on-ball defense in 2K is when you take control of the player guarding the man with the ball. Off-ball defense (often referred to as off-balling) is when you control a player away from the ball and allow the CPU, which is usually a little less flawed than a human-controlled player, to guard the ball-handler.

How you answer the lede question tells some members of the 2K community if you’re trash on the sticks or not. It’s pretty silly, but 2K has been known to buckle a bit under the unwritten rules authored by its community (sometimes to a fault).

However, this latest concept recently revealed by Mike Wang, the head of gameplay, isn’t a flawed example of 2K’s tendency to cater to the sometimes nonsensical outcries of their fans. Wang tweeted the following on Friday, and it was enough to grab the attention of some hardcore players.

Wang’s answer came after he was asked if there was something that could be done about players using off-ball defense exclusively. Here is the question and Wang’s response:

Contrary to what many think, playing off-ball isn’t a bad thing.

It’s a strategy a user might chose to do if they want to take advantage of a dominant help defender, or if they simply have a hard time staying with a ball-handler and would be better off playing the help.

I’m not gonna die on an island because some guy or girl on the other end of the internet thinks I’m weak because I’m off-balling. Until he or she sends me $60 every year to buy NBA 2K, I’ll politely decline any suggestion that I should take their opinion seriously.

That said, giving a boost to players who choose to play on-ball is the perfect compromise. It is a design that theoretically awards stick skills, and I’m all for that concept.

This might be misinterpreted (which is commonplace in gaming communities) to mean that every time you off-ball you’ll fail to get stops, or every time you play on-ball defense, you’ll force a miss, get a block or a steal.

That’s not what it means at all.

Great offense should still beat good defense, and if that’s how this element of 2K manifests itself, then it makes the gameplay experience better.

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