A back cut in basketball is a type of maneuver that an offensive player uses to break free from the defender and get close to the hoop. It is used in an instance with two offensive players and one defender. If the defender is guarding closely against the pass, the player without the ball can cut to the basket and catch a pass for an easy score.
The back cut is performed when there are two offensive players in relatively close proximity to one another on the perimeter. The perimeter is defined as anywhere behind the three-point line. During the possession, the defender tasked with guarding the ball handler will often move slightly to one side, anticipating a pass to a nearby teammate. Rather than try to force the pass in this situation and risk the ball being stolen by the defender, the player that is not currently in possession of the ball can make a quick break for the basket and catch the defender flat-footed. Back cuts should also be used when the ball handler is dribbling towards a teammate, as failure to cut towards the basket will result in a lack of spacing and make it easier for defenders to stay with their assignments.
When it comes to successfully executing a back cut, timing is everything. The ball handler and the player without the ball must be on the same page, as the openings in the defense can be exploited for only a short amount of time. The player not in possession of the ball needs to watch the ball carrier's defender carefully. Once the ball carrier stops dribbling and looks to pass the ball to a teammate, the defender will drift towards the nearest offensive player in an attempt to steal the pass. As soon as this happens, the player looking to receive the pass needs to make a beeline for the basket to minimize the chances of the defense getting back into position. When executed properly, the back cut should result in an easy two points for the offense, as the cutter will be wide open for a short layup.