What is cherry-picking in basketball?

Cherry Picking in Basketball

Cherry-picking means: Cherry-picking in basketball is a strategy that some players use to gain an advantage over their opponents on the court. It involves a player or team staying near one side of the court and waiting for an easy scoring opportunity rather than playing defense and positioning themselves strategically. This allows them to get an easy layup or dunk if the other team turns over the ball. This technique is often seen in recreational basketball games, but it can be just as effective at higher levels of competition.

Why Is It Called Cherry-Picking In Basketball?

What Is Cherry-Picking In Basketball?
Why Is It Called Cherry-Picking In Basketball?

This type of play gets its name from the idea that players only take advantage of easy opportunities, like plucking cherries off a tree. It also implies that these players aren’t doing any real work themselves but instead relying on their teammates to do all the hard work and then swooping in for an uncontested layup when they get a chance. While this tactic can be effective, it’s generally frowned upon by coaches and fans alike for being overly passive and not adding anything meaningful to team play.

Advantages Of Cherry Picking:

There are several advantages of NBA cherry-picking in basketball, both offensively and defensively.

Offensive Advantage:

Offensive Advantage
Offensive Advantage Of Cherry Picking

One can take advantage of situations where weaknesses or gaps in defenses can be exploited by cherry-picking. Additionally, cherry-picking forces opponents to focus on defense rather than offense, giving the user an inherent advantage when attacking or defending against opponents. This kind of strategic decision-making puts the user in an advantageous position they may not have had otherwise.

Defensive Advantage:

Defensive Advantage
Defensive Advantage Of Cherry Picking

Cherry-picking also gives players a defensive advantage because of its strategic placement on the court. By positioning themselves near their basket, players have more time to assess the situation before attempting a shot or passing the ball. This allows them to react quickly and remain in control of the game. Additionally, cherry pickers can track where their teammates are on the court and provide extra coverage if needed.

Disadvantages Of Cherry Picking:

Disadvantages Cherry Picking
Drawback Of Cherry Picking

Cherry-picking involves players grabbing rebounds or steals and sprinting up the court to score before their opponents catch up. This tactic can work well for a team with strong offensive players but also exposes defensive weaknesses. The other team may be able to capitalize on these weaknesses and counter with easy baskets of their own, negating any advantage gained from cherry-picking.

Furthermore, cherry-picking disrupts the flow of the game and requires extra energy from its participants, which could cause fatigue – resulting in mistakes made later in the game due to exhaustion.

How To Protect Yourself From Cherry-Picking?

Safe Yourself From Cherry-Picking?
How To Protect Yourself From Cherry-Picking?

Make sure your team has an even number of players so that no one is left without a partner or stuck having to defend both sides of the court alone. If you find yourself facing off against an unevenly matched team, try coordinating with them beforehand to allow for substitutions throughout the game so everyone gets a chance to participate fully.

Stay alert and aware of where your opponents are moving on the court. Knowing who is responsible for covering which area can help you better anticipate when someone might be trying to sneak away for an easy basket.

How To Cherry-Pick Like An Nba Player?

Understand when and where to best employ this skill. When your team makes a fast break down one side of the court, wait at the other end until they pass halfway down. Then, ensure you have good timing so that you’re ready when your teammate makes their layup or score attempt — ensuring that you’re already in a position to receive any passes for easier baskets.

Is Cherry-Picking Illegal In Basketball?

In professional leagues such as the NBA, it can result in a technical foul being called against the offending player or their team if they stay too close to one side of the court and create an unfair advantage.

Other recreational leagues may allow cherry-picking with some restrictions, including requiring players to switch sides after a certain time or not allowing them to score more than two consecutive baskets from one side of the court.

When To Use Cherry Picking?

Coaches should consider several factors when deciding whether to use cherry-picking in a basketball game. The opposing team’s defensive setup will often dictate when cherry-picking is appropriate; if they are playing zone defense and are spread out across the court, then cherry-pickers may have more success getting open for easy shots than if their opponents are playing man’s defense close to the basket.

Strategy For Effective Cherry Picking:

When it comes to cherry-picking, timing is key. You want to be one step ahead of your opponents to make your move when they least expect it. To do this, look for open lanes and anticipate where passes will be thrown next so that you can quickly break away from defenders and get into position to score at the opposite end of the court.


How to stop cherry-picking in basketball?

To stop cherry-picking, teams can use a man-to-man defense strategy where each player is tasked with blocking a specific opponent. Also, strategies like better communication between team members and ensuring at least one player is always on defense can help.

What are cherry-picked points in basketball?

“Cherry-picked” points in basketball refer to points scored by a player who uses the cherry-picking strategy. This usually involves the player hanging back near the opponent’s basket, skipping defensive plays, and then scoring easily when their team recovers the ball. These points are sometimes considered less skillful or legitimate because they are scored with little defensive pressure.


Cherry-picking in basketball is a strategy to take advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses and capitalize on the player’s strengths. It encourages creativity, flexibility, and strategic thinking to create an opportunity for the team to score. Although it can be effective when used thoughtfully and skillfully, it should not be relied upon as a primary approach to playing basketball.

Cherry picking (basketball)
The Base Defense in the Basketball Cherry Picking System