Cherry Picking

What is Cherry Picking in Basketball?

Cherry picking in basketball is a strategic move that has been a subject of debate among players, coaches, and fans. It involves one player, called the cherry picker, staying near their own team’s offensive basket while the rest of the team plays defense at the other end of the court. This positioning is designed to create an opportunity for a quick and easy score, often initiated by a fast break when the opposing team loses possession of the ball.

The controversy surrounding cherry picking arises from a perceived lack of commitment to defense. Those who disapprove of the strategy argue that it undermines the core values of teamwork and balance in the sport. On the other hand, proponents of cherry picking claim that it can be employed as a tactical asset during games, especially when trying to make up for a deficit on the scoreboard.

Understanding the nuances of cherry picking is essential in comprehending basketball as a whole. As the debate around its effectiveness continues, it’s vital for basketball enthusiasts and players to have a clear grasp of what this strategy entails and the various viewpoints surrounding its use.

Fundamentals of Cherry Picking

Definition and Concept

Cherry Picking in basketball is a strategy that involves a player positioning themselves near the opponent’s basket, rather than participating in defensive plays and rebounding. This tactic aims to take advantage of scoring opportunities before the defending team can get into position after a change in possession. When successful, cherry picking can result in easy scores for the offensive team. However, it is important to note that this strategy is often considered controversial and risky.

  • Controversial: Coaches, players, and fans might not appreciate cherry-picking plays as it may be seen as going against the spirit of the game.
  • Risky: Cherry picking can leave a team in a vulnerable position defensively, potentially giving the opponent easy shots and putbacks.

Origin of the Term

The term “cherry picking” has its origins in the physical act of picking cherries from a tree. When cherry-picking, individuals tend to reach for the low-hanging cherries that are the easiest to obtain, leaving the higher, more difficult-to-reach cherries for later. In basketball, the concept of cherry picking refers to a player seeking an easy scoring opportunity by staying close to the opponent’s basket, rather than engaging in the more challenging parts of the game, such as defense and rebounding.

Strategies and Controversies

Implementing Cherry Picking

Cherry picking in basketball is a strategy where a player, known as the cherry picker, lingers near the opponent’s basket instead of participating in defensive plays and rebounding. It capitalizes on scoring opportunities before the defending team can get in position after a change in possession. This tactic can involve two main methods:

  1. Camping out: The cherry picker stays near the opponent’s basket, waiting for a teammate to secure a rebound or steal the ball. Once the team gains possession, they quickly pass the ball to the cherry picker for an easy score.
  2. Bolting: In this method, the cherry picker actively participates in defense initially, but as soon as their team gains possession, they bolt towards the opponent’s basket, hoping to receive a fast pass for a quick scoring opportunity.

Cherry picking is allowed in professional leagues like the NBA but is often criticized for being unsportsmanlike or lazy. Certain amateur leagues prohibit cherry picking, penalizing the offending team with a loss of possession and any resulting points.

Advantages and Criticisms

Below is a table summarizing the pros and cons of cherry picking in basketball:

Potentially easy scoring opportunitiesConsidered unsportsmanlike or lazy
Catches the defending team off-guardCan leave the defensive team shorthanded
Can increase pace of the gameEncourages less teamwork and cooperation

While cherry picking allows for easy scores and can catch the opponent off guard, it comes with several drawbacks. Players engaging in cherry picking are often seen as unsportsmanlike or lazy, as they are not fully participating in defensive efforts alongside the rest of their team. In turn, this can result in their team struggling to defend the basket, as they are effectively playing with one less defensive player.

Additionally, cherry picking can lead to decreased teamwork and cooperation, as players may become more focused on exploiting fast-break opportunities instead of working together in a coordinated strategy. Despite these criticisms, cherry picking remains a debated tactic in basketball, with some teams and players finding success employing it, while others prefer sticking to a more traditional team-oriented approach.