what is cherry picking in basketball

What is Cherry Picking in Basketball? All You Need to Know

In basketball, there is a controversial strategy called “cherry picking.” This strategy involves one player (the cherry picker) not playing defense with the rest of the team, but rather remaining near half-court or closer to their own team’s goal.

In this blog post, we will discuss what cherry picking is, how it works, the pros and cons of cherry picking, and the ethics of cherry picking. We will also discuss some examples of cherry picking in basketball and different ways to defend against it.

What is Cherry Picking in Basketball?

basketball carry

Cherry picking is a controversial strategy in basketball where one player (the cherry picker) does not play defense with the rest of the team, but rather remains near half court or closer to their own team’s goal. When the other team loses possession of the ball, the cherry picker runs towards the basket for an easy score. Cherry picking is legal in organized basketball, but it is often seen as a selfish or unsportsmanlike move.

The term “cherry picking” is thought to have originated in the early 1900s, when basketball players would pick and choose the best opportunities to score points. Today, cherry picking is most commonly seen in youth and recreational basketball leagues. It is less common in professional basketball, where coaches and players are more aware of the strategy’s drawbacks.

Is it legal in basketball?

Yes, cherry picking is legal in organized basketball. There are no rules that specifically prohibit it. However, some leagues and tournaments have rules that discourage cherry picking, such as requiring players to stay within a certain area of the court when their team does not have the ball.

Why do teams cherry pick?

basketball score

There are a few reasons why teams cherry pick.

  • To score points quickly. Cherry picking can be a quick and easy way to score points, especially if the cherry picker is a fast and skilled player. This can be especially helpful for teams that are behind and need to score quickly.
  • To force the other team to play more conservatively. When a team cherry picks, it forces the other team to play more conservatively on offense. This can make it more difficult for the other team to score, and it can also open up more opportunities for the cherry picker’s team to get steals and fast breaks.
  • To take advantage of mismatches. If there is a mismatch between one player on the cherry picker’s team and one player on the other team, cherry picking can be a way to exploit that mismatch. For example, if a team has a fast guard who is guarding a slow big man, the guard could cherry pick and try to get an easy layup.
  • To create chaos. Cherry picking can create chaos on the court, which can make it difficult for the other team to defend. This can be especially helpful for teams that are trying to get out of a slump or that are playing against a better team.

However, there are also some drawbacks to cherry picking.

  • It can leave the cherry picker’s team vulnerable on defense. When a player cherry picks, they are not playing defense. This can leave the cherry picker’s team shorthanded on defense, which can make it easier for the other team to score.
  • It can be seen as a selfish or unsportsmanlike move. Some people believe that cherry picking is a selfish move that takes away from the spirit of the game. They argue that it is not fair to the other team, and that it does not require any skill or teamwork.
  • It can be difficult to execute effectively. Cherry picking is not always easy to execute effectively. The cherry picker needs to be able to run fast and get open, and the other players on their team need to be able to pass the ball quickly and accurately.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to cherry pick is up to each individual team. There is no right or wrong answer, and the best strategy will vary depending on the situation.

What are the pros and cons of cherry picking?

ProsCons
Can be a quick and easy way to score points.Can leave the cherry picker’s team vulnerable on defense.
Can force the other team to play more conservatively.Can be seen as a selfish or unsportsmanlike move.
Can take advantage of mismatches.Can be difficult to execute effectively.
Can create chaos on the court.

Examples of Cherry Picking in Basketball

Here are some examples of cherry picking in basketball:

  • A player who is guarding a slow big man on the other team stays near half-court or closer to their own team’s goal and then runs towards the basket for an easy layup when the other team loses possession of the ball.
  • A player who is a good shooter stays near half-court or closer to their own team’s goal, and then runs towards the basket for an open shot when the other team misses a shot.
  • A player who is a fast break specialist stays near half-court or closer to their own team’s goal, and then runs towards the basket for an easy layup after their team gets a steal.

Cherry picking can also be more subtle than these examples. For example, a player might not literally stay near half-court, but they might hang back on defense and only start running towards the basket when they see that their team is likely to get the rebound.

It is important to note that not all of these examples of cherry picking are illegal. In some leagues and tournaments, there are rules that discourage cherry picking, such as requiring players to stay within a certain area of the court when their team does not have the ball. However, in most leagues and tournaments, cherry picking is legal.

Ultimately, whether or not a particular instance of cherry picking is considered illegal or unsportsmanlike will depend on the specific circumstances.

Practical Tips to Counter Cherry Pickers

basketball rebound

Here are some practical tips to counter cherry pickers in basketball:

  • Communicate with your teammates. When you see a player cherry picking, communicate with your teammates so that they know to be aware of it. This will help you to prevent the cherry picker from getting an easy layup.
  • Guard the cherry picker. If you are the closest player to the cherry picker, you can guard them to prevent them from getting an easy layup. This can be difficult, especially if the cherry picker is a fast and skilled player. However, it is important to try to do so to prevent them from scoring.
  • Play more aggressively on defense. If you know that the other team is cherry picking, you can play more aggressively on defense. This means closing out on shooters more quickly and contesting shots more forcefully. This can make it more difficult for the cherry picker to get an open shot.
  • Force the other team to take contested shots. If you can force the other team to take contested shots, it will make it less likely that they will score. This means playing good defense and not giving them easy looks at the basket.
  • Get back on defense quickly. When the other team loses possession of the ball, get back on defense quickly. This will help to prevent the cherry picker from getting an easy layup.
  • Be patient. It may take some time to adjust to playing against cherry pickers. Be patient and don’t get frustrated. With practice, you will be able to defend against them more effectively.

It is important to note that there is no foolproof way to counter cherry pickers. However, by following these tips, you can make it more difficult for them to score and help your team win the game.

Final Thoughts

Cherry picking is a controversial strategy in basketball. It is legal in most leagues and tournaments, but it is often seen as a selfish or unsportsmanlike move. There are pros and cons to cherry picking, and the decision of whether or not to use it is up to each individual team.

If you are considering using cherry picking, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully. On the one hand, cherry picking can be a quick and easy way to score points. It can also force the other team to play more conservatively, which can make it easier for your team to score. On the other hand, cherry picking can leave your team vulnerable on defense. It can also be seen as a selfish or unsportsmanlike move.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use cherry picking is up to you. There is no right or wrong answer, and the best strategy will vary depending on the situation.

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