Coaching is an integral aspect of winning in the NBA, as their schemes and rotations make the difference between a playoff and championship contender. In NBA 2K21, finding the right playbook to use is essential to getting clean looks at the rim and easy baskets in the paint.
Getting the right play call in NBA 2K21 means knowing your personnel in putting them in the best positions to score. This also requires deception by baiting defenders into common simple plays, such as pick-and-rolls and drives to the rim.
Separating yourself from the field requires having multiple counter moves when your Plan A of attack is foiled by the opponent. With that said, here are the best playbooks to use in NBA 2K21.
1. Vintage Miami Heat 2013
- Best overall team and playbook scheme in NBA 2K21
- Best known for: Having the most plays in NBA 2K21
- Go-to play: QUICK 4 HORNS FLARE (Horns, and then the roller pops out off another screen)
We start the list with one of the most dominant playbooks used by LeBron James and the vintage Miami Heat. This Erik Spoelstra playbook is the largest in the game with 45 plays, being suited to teams with either a star guard, forward, or center.
The flexibility of this playbook is a favorite of many, with numerous counters and variations available per play call. The top play here is the QUICK 4 HORNS FLARE, which features your standard double horns screen, but with the option to either drive to the paint or kick it out to the popping big man for three.
Other notable play calls here include:
- PUNCH 5 FLARE RIP (pass and screen away for a three-pointer)
- FIST 81 OUT (a double screen leading to a free lane to the basket)
- QUICK 32 BOX FLARE (a zipper screen for a sharpshooter to the top of the key)
2. Golden State Warriors 2020-21
- Best playbook scheme for guard-heavy teams
- Best known for: Being suitable for beginners
- Go-to play: FIST 14 STS DOWN
We now head to Steve Kerr’s playbook for the Golden State Warriors. Similar to real-life, running the Warriors’ offense playbook in NBA 2K21 fits well with a superstar backcourt, such as one that features Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, or Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
This is a great playbook for beginners as using Warriors Freelance allows the AI to choose the best play for your lineup and the game scenario. The deadly Warriors play to use, though, is the FIST 14 STS DOWN,with a PG-to-PF off-ball screen, then the center sets another ball screen for an open dunk or alley-oop.
Other great play calls in the playbook are:
- QUICK 2 SPLIT FIST (double screens for the corner shoots to flare to the wing)
- ISO 12 HIGH (a PG-SG high pick-and-roll)
- CUT POINT 2&3 (a SG-SF slip screen at the midrange for an easy pass to the rim)
3. Philadelphia 76ers 2020-21
- Best playbook scheme for big-dominant teams
- Best known for: Post plays for big guards and dominant centers
- Go-to play: PUNCH C POINT SERIES 2
Doc Rivers’ Philadelphia 76ers playbook is suited to teams who utilize big men while still adapting the five-out offense of the modern NBA. Post-ups and isolations are prevalent in this offense, with kick-outs also an option if your first option breaks down.
They are one of the rare playbooks that have actions for the big men low post (PUNCH C POINT SERIES 2) and guard post-up plays (PUNCH 5 OUT HAWK), which differ in spacing and where your player will catch the ball. The key is to stay patient in the post to assess whether to attack your post defender or to kick it out to an open shooter.
Other play calls in this set include:
- ISO 13 GO (a PG-SF elevator screen for a runway to the paint)
- ‘19 HIGH 5 (an elbow post catch for your center)
- CUT EAR TUG SERIES (an off-ball screen for your center to roll to an open lob opportunity)
4. Milwaukee Bucks 2020-21
- Best playbook scheme for isolation
- Best known for: A complete five-out offense scheme
- Go-to play: ISO 5OUT (2 & 3) (WING)
The playbook for the reigning champions is heralded as one of the best in the game, but this is more suited to rosters that have dominant forwards and isolation players. A key trait of this playbook is the five-out scheme that the Milwaukee Bucks use for Giannis Antetokounmpo to execute his isolation plays.
A common play used in the game is the ISO 5OUT (2 & 3) (WING), which allows your forward enough space to attack his defender or pull up for a jump shot. The spaced setup of the offense allows for kick-outs and possible audible calls if the first option doesn’t pan out for you.
Other key plays in this playbook are:
- ISO 5OUT & 6 (Middle)
- ISO 5OUT 5 (a handoff to the free-throw line)
- FIST 5OUT 1 (3) (A double pindown for the corner shooter to flare to the key)
5. Atlanta Hawks 2020-21
- Best playbook scheme for three-point shooting
- Best known for: Quick plays for open three-pointers
- Go-to play: FIST 19 DRAG
A special shout-out goes to the Atlanta Hawks as Nate McMillan adapted his playbook from his days with the Indiana Pacers, so don’t worry if the Pacers’ playbook is actually used for the Southeast Division team. The adjusted Hawks playbook is suited for teams that have sharpshooters all over the floor, and screeners who have the Brick Wall badge.
The FIST 19 DRAG play is a simple horns screen, but can easily be adapted into a double screen for either the ball-handler or a screener to pop open. Utilizing the scoring threat of the ball handler is key to making defenders think twice on the play, so use this play wisely.
Other crucial plays in this stack include:
- QUICK 42 PIN (a SG-PG pindown screen to let the guard have an open corner three)
- QUICK 42 SLIP PIN (a SG-PF slip screen pindown set)
- FIST 5 DOWN QUICK (a quick screen-and-roll with a hard drive by the center to the paint)
How to pick and practice NBA 2K21 playbooks
Finding the right playbook is only half of the battle for you, as executing the right play call well is crucial to taking advantage of your newfound advantage. Putting together a roster suited to your playstyle and playbook selection is what will put your team in a position to win on offense.
Taking time to practice in 2K University pays off, especially in getting the timing of the plays right. Knowing the shot timing and the hot zones for a specific player will give you an extra edge, too, especially in calling the right plays in the fourth quarter.
Feel free to experiment with the best NBA 2K21 playbooks to find the one that suits your team’s needs.
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