|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2011)|
A layup in basketball is a two-point shot attempt made by leaping from below, laying the ball up near the basket, and using one hand to bounce it off the backboard and into the basket. The motion and one-handed reach distinguish it from a jump shot. The layup is considered the most basic shot in basketball. When doing a layup, the player lifts the outside foot, or the foot away from the basket.
An undefended layup is usually a high percentage shot. The main obstacle is getting near the rim and avoiding blocks by taller defenders who usually stand near the basket. Common layup strategies are to create spaces, release the ball from a different spot, or use alternate hands. A player able to reach over the rim might choose to perform a more spectacular and higher percentage slam dunk (dropping or throwing the ball from above the rim) instead.
As the game has evolved through the years, so has the layup. Several different versions of the layup are around today. Layups can be broadly categorized into two types: the underarm and the overarm. The underarm layup involves using most of the wrist and the fingers to 'lay' the ball into the net or off the board. This layup is more commonly known as the finger roll. George Gervin was one of the early practitioners of a showy finger roll layup. Notable current NBA players who rely heavily on the underarm finger roll are Mike Bibby and Allen Iverson.
Finger rolls today have many forms, including the "Around the World" which involves a complete circle around the player before the layup and a variety of faking in the approach to the rim. A classic example is a play by Jason Williams during his time with Sacramento, in which Williams brought the ball behind his back with his right hand, in a fake of a back pass, and then brought it front again with the same hand for the finish (reminiscent of Bob Cousy, who pioneered the move).
The other layup is the overhand shot, similar to a jump shot but from a considerably close range. Overhand layups nearly always involve the action of the backboard. Players like Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone have used this move to great effect.