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The NBA is one of the most important sports leagues in the world and is home to the best basketball players of our time. Since its inception, a number of players have made a name for themselves in the sport, building solid careers that are still remembered today. To achieve this, however, these players have had to faithfully follow the rules of the NBA.

In this special article we’ve prepared, then, you’ll first learn a little about what the NBA is, then what the rules are and also understand the existence of the FIBA. Then we’ll reveal what the difference is between this acronym and the NBA, what the differences are in the rules and much more!

Among the NBA rules that we’ll get to know here, you’ll understand how scoring works, fouls and other infractions, the size of the teams, the players who take the court and the structure of the game in general.

Are you ready to dive into the world of basketball and learn about the rules of the NBA?

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NBA rules: court and lines

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Check out the NBA rules!

The first of the NBA rules we need to unravel is where the game takes place. So let’s start with the court itself and then understand the demarcated lines.


The rules require the venue to have certain dimensions, as well as certain elements that need to be present during the match.

So let’s start by talking about the size of the court. A basketball court, according to NBA rules, must be 28 m long by 15 m wide.

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These dimensions are set as a standard and absolutely all courts in the league must have this measurement.


The court still needs to be marked out. Let’s get to know them.

  • Three-point line;
  • Free throw line;
  • Center line;
  • Sidelines;
  • Bottle.

Three-point line

The three-point line is there so that the player can make a shot worth three points, but he has to be before it. If your feet touch the line and the ball goes into the basket, you only score two points.

In the NBA, the arc drawn by the three-point line must be 7 metres from the center of the basket.

Free throw line

As the name implies, the free throw line is located where the players can make free throws. The distance from the line to the hoop is 4 meters.

Central line

The center line, or half-court line, is there to divide the court in half horizontally, and is where matches begin.


The sidelines surround the court, delimiting the playing space.


The court lines are those that run from the free throw line to the baseline, which is at the end of the court behind the basket. It is usually 4 meters away from the basket, according to NBA rules.

NBA rules: structures

  • Basket;
  • Punctuation markers;
  • Reserve area.

Now, let’s talk about other elements and structures that exist on the court, such as the basketball hoop, its net, the score markers and the reserve area.


According to NBA rules, basketball hoops must be fixed at a height of 3 m above the ground. This basket is made up of a metal hoop and a hanging net.

These nets are designed to damp the ball as it enters the hoop, and they are made from durable materials such as nylon. Returning to the hoop, it is made of steel and also needs to be strong enough to withstand impacts.

The basketball hoop with its rim is also attached to a board, which measures 3.95 m high by 1.80 m wide. Generally, this board is made of wood, is white in color and has black stripes above the rim and in its general outline.

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NBA rules: basketball basket

Punctuation markers

On NBA basketball courts, there are also scoreboards, which must be visible to both players and spectators.

This way, they can keep track of the score during the game and, consequently, who is winning and who is losing.

Reserve area

On the NBA basketball court, we also see benches and reserve areas where players who aren’t on the court at the moment sit. They have to sit there, waiting for a possible call to enter the court and take part in the match.

NBA rules: playing standards

The NBA also has rules regarding the players who will be on the field. To be part of the league, players must be at least 19 years old.

When they are selected, they go through agreements between the league and the players’ unions, and with that they have rules on payments, termination and other contractual issues. So it’s all very serious when it comes to the NBA.

By signing these contracts, the players must follow the codes of conduct determined by the league to the letter, both on and off the pitch.

Therefore, fights, whether physical or arguments, are not allowed, much less other types of harmful behavior that could damage the reputation of the team and the league as a whole.

Basketball players chosen to participate in the NBA must constantly maintain the positive image of the league, always getting involved in community initiatives and other important social activities.

As in all sports, the NBA does not tolerate the use of drugs or prohibited substances, so there is constant testing of players, both in and out of season.

If any substance is identified in these players’ bodies, they could be suspended or receive other punishments capable of damaging their careers.

Now let’s talk about how many players take the court during an NBA basketball match.

NBA rules: players on the pitch

In each NBA match, five players from each team take the court, with a total of 10 on the court at the same time. On the bench, each team can have up to 7 players waiting.

Once on the court, then, an NBA match is divided into four periods, each of which lasts 12 minutes. So that’s 48 minutes in which the players are on the court making their best passes and shots.

However, as in other sports, basketball also has several breaks and time-outs, which can end up making the duration of matches much longer.

There are games, for example, that can last more than two hours and everything will depend on how each team plays.

Still on the court, it’s time to understand how basketball scoring works in matches according to the NBA rules.

NBA rules: scoring

  • Two-point basket;
  • Three-point basket;
  • Free throw.

Two-point basket

The two-point basket in the NBA happens when a player throws the ball while on the three-point line and it goes through the hoop.

Three-point basket

As for the three-point basket, the shots have to be made from outside the three-point line. In addition, of course, the ball must pass through the hoop.

Free throws

In addition to three-point baskets, basketball players can also score from the free throw line, which is 4.6 meters away from the hoop. This usually happens when the shooter is fouled. Each basket made at the free throw line is worth one point.

The scoring of baskets made in the NBA is greatly aided by technology. Thanks to advanced sensors, it is possible to define the precision of the ball’s passage through the hoop, defining without doubt whether a point has been scored.

NBA rules: difference between NBA and FIBA

To better understand how the NBA rules work, let’s compare them with the Rules of FIBA (National Basketball Federation)?

FIBA is an international body that controls sport worldwide. It was founded in Switzerland in 1932 and has 213 registered countries. So the federation is extremely important to the NBA, and both institutions need to work in harmony.

NBA vs. FIBA: match length

While in the NBA games are divided into four 12-minute periods, in FIBA they are four 10-minute periods.

As far as extra time is concerned, in the NBA teams have five more minutes to play in the event of a tie, and in FIBA extra time is the same length, but the team that has a two-point lead first wins.

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NBA rules: difference between FIBA and the NBA

NBA vs. FIBA: lines, shots and fouls

The differences between the NBA and FIBA can also be seen in the lines, shots and fouls.

  • In the NBA, the three-point line is 7 m from the hoop, and FIBA’s is 6 m.
  • Free throws in the NBA are 4.57m from the hoop, while in FIBA they are 4.60m, which is not much difference.
  • As for fouls in the NBA, a player can be sent off after six fouls, and in FIBA after five.

NBA vs. FIBA: infringements

Regarding infractions on the pitch, the NBA is usually less strict about physical contact between players during a match.

FIBA, on the other hand, is much less tolerant of this issue, so you have to be much more careful when there is physical contact during games, as it makes it easier to get fouled.

These were the rules of the NBA, a league that concentrates 30 incredible teams full of talent? Did you like learning about it? Then keep browsing and check out our other articles on basketball and many other sports!

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