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Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world and is also one of the most popular sports to bet on. There is a basketball hoop and basketball court in every country in the world, and there are tons of leagues from recreational ones to the professional level. 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the biggest league in the world, and some of the biggest stars in the sports world play in that league. 

Online Basketball

When it comes to online basketball and betting on the game of basketball, you have a ton of betting options. Not only do all online sportsbooks have betting odds on the game of basketball, but there is also no lack of betting markets for the popular sport. 

Basketball Live Odds


Rules and Gameplay 

Basketball is a team sport played on a rectangular court where one team tries to score the ball by putting it through the hoop, while the opposing team looks to keep that from happening. A regulation basketball court on the international level is 91.9 feet long and 49.2 feet wide, and 94 by 50 feet for the NBA and NCAA in the United States. 

While an official basketball game is five players against five players, there is also one and one, two on two, three on three, and four on four variations.

In basketball, a field goal, called a basket, is worth two points, and behind the further three-point line, a field goal is worth three points. Players can also take free throws from the free-throw line when a team commits a foul, and a free throw is worth one point. 

The team that has the most points at the end of the game is the winner, and if the game is tied, there is an extra overtime period. 

Players move the ball by dribbling the basketball or passing the ball to a teammate. Players can use different shots such as a jump shot, layup, or dunk to score the ball and put points on the scoreboard. 

The defensive players can steal the ball, block shots, and if a shot goes off the basketball rim, grab the ball, which is called a rebound, and then they are on offense. 

If the defensive player fouls an offensive player with contact, the player fouled either takes the ball out of bounds or, if they are in the process of taking a shot, they will get two free throws or three if they are fouled while attempting a three-point shot. 

When a player dribbles in the game of basketball and stops doing so, they cannot begin to dribble again, as they must pass or shoot the ball. If a player is not dribbling, one pivot foot has to stay in place, and if they move that, it is called traveling, and the opposing team gets the ball. A player has to dribble the ball with one hand. 

The five main elements for the game of basketball are: 

  • Shooting
  • Dribbling
  • Passing
  • Rebounding
  • Defense

How the Teams Work 

There are positions in basketball and are matched up against similar positions from the opposing teams. Teams can choose to play man to man defense or zone defense. Man to man is each player defending another player while zone is playing in a zone and defending an area. 

The game starts at the center of the court, with the referee tossing the ball up between two opposing players called the opening tip with them trying to control the ball to get the first possession. 

Typically the positions on the floor are: 

  • Center: Usually the tallest player that plays in the paint, which is the area from the free-throw line to the basket. 
  • Power Forward: Usually big players that play in the paint. 
  • Small Forward: Smaller and more agile players that play in the paint and outside. 
  • Shooting Guard: Usually shorter players that play outside the paint. 
  • Point Guard: A kind of quarterback of basketball, who handles the ball often. In the game of basketball, the point guard is often called the floor general. 

In modern times, especially in NBA basketball, the game has transitioned to what is called positionless basketball with more and more bigger players playing outside and shooting three-pointers. 

There are many common rules for basketball and also ones that differ depending on the league. For example, in NBA basketball, if a player collects six fouls, they foul out, meaning they are out for the rest of the game. However, in college basketball, a player fouls out after collecting five fouls. 

There are three types of fouls in the game of basketball, which are: 

  • Personal Foul: This is the most common foul where a player illegally contacts another player. Typically a personal foul is called on the defensive player, but there are offensive fouls that can be committed by the player on offense. 
  • Flagrant Foul: This is where the player is called for unnecessary contact where the referee sees the foul as excessive. If a player has two flagrant 1 fouls, they are thrown out of the game and immediately thrown out for a flagrant 2 foul, which is more brutal and dangerous to the player fouled. 
  • Technical Foul: This foul is not related to the physical nature of the game. Some of the ways a team can get a technical foul are arguing excessively with the referee, unsportsmanlike conduct, calling a timeout when the team has none left, and illegal gamesmanship. 

The times for basketball games also differ, as for leagues there are timed games while playing recreationally, such as on the blacktop or gym games, teams play to a certain amount of points. 

For example, in NBA basketball, there are four 12-minute quarters while in FIBA and college women's games, there are four 10-minute quarters. In college basketball for men, they play two 20-minute halves. 

There is also a shot clock where a team has to attempt a shot in a certain time period. Again, as an example, in NBA basketball, the shot clock is 24 seconds, while for college basketball, it is 30 seconds. 

Strategy and Tactics 

There are many strategies and tactics for the game of basketball. Not only is it for the game, but there are also many basketball betting strategies

Typically a basketball team can use a defensive strategy relying on the defense to win the game while an offensive strategy is focusing on offense and scoring a lot of points. For example, if a team likes to run and gun, it means they want to get out and run and score a lot of points. 

For strategy and tactics, a lot relies on the coach and how he substitutes players and shifts them around to try to get an advantage over the opponent. It is important to know a team's strategy when betting on them. 

For example, if a team is a defensive one, the total of the game is likely to be lower. That has to be taken into account if you want to bet the total of the game. 

History of the Game 

Canadian James Naismith is credited with creating basketball in 1891, as he wanted to keep his gym class active on rainy days. He was a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (YMCA). 

Naismith came up with basketball rules and nailed a peach basketball to an elevated track. Players would shoot ball trying to make it in the peach basket, which they would have to retrieve. 

At first, dribbling was not part of the game, with the ball only moved around the court from players passing it to teammates. However, dribbling was common in the game in 1896. At the YMCA at the time, there were soccer teams with 10 players, and when they came inside the gym, that team was split into two teams of five players, which has stuck. 

Naismith is also credited with establishing college basketball and later coached at the University of Kansas for five seasons. The first intercollegiate game was played on Feb. 9, 1895. 

Here are some other dates in the history of basketball:

1891James Naismith invents basketball 
1896First intercollegiate basketball game
1896 First professional basketball game 
1936Basketball is added to the Olympics 
1938National Basketball League (NBL) is established 
1946Basketball Association of America (BAA) is established 
1949Six teams from the NBL join the BAA, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) is established 
1951First NBA All-Star Game 
1954 - 1955NBA adds the shot clock 
1967American Basketball Association (ABA) is established 
1976ABA merges with the NBA
1979The three-point line is added in the NBA
1996The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is established 

Wall of Fame

The wall of fame for basketball is extensive, considering the popularity of the sport and the many great players throughout the years. While there is always debate on who the greatest player of all time (GOAT) is, it is widely regarded that Michael Jordan is that player. 

Other players that are considered some of the best of all time are LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Oscar Robertson, and Tim Duncan. 

Some of the legendary coaches in basketball include Naismith, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, John Wooden, Dean Smith, and Mike Krzyzewski, to name just a few. 

There is not only the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame but also the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and, for international players, the FIBA Basketball Hall of Fame. 

In the U.S. 

In 1996, the NBA had its 50th anniversary, and they selected the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. While there are sure to be players on the next top 50, such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Tim Duncan, the 50 players on the 1996 list were: 

Distinctive Elements 

There are many distinctive elements to basketball, considering it is such a popular game the world over. The simplicity of the game is the most distinctive element trying to score while the opposing player/players try to keep that from happening. 

The global reach of the game has exploded in the last couple of decades, with many European players playing in the top league in the world in the NBA. The WNBA is now very popular, and the college game on the men's and women's levels is as well. 

This is especially the case for the NCAA Tournament, which is referred simply as March Madness, where the champion of the college season is crowned. 

One of the reasons basketball is so popular is all you need is a ball and a hoop. From the top leagues in the world to playing one on one on a playground, the game has many facets and can be played anywhere. 

On top of that, there are so many betting options when it comes to wagering on hoops. Many online sportsbooks cover many leagues from around the world, with many betting markets to take advantage of. 

Basketball Statistics

Not only are statistics used in basketball for teams and players, but also for bettors that look to gain an advantage when wagering on hoops. There are many basketball stats both for teams and players, and stats are always looked at when debating how good a player is or was and how valuable they are for their team. 

When it comes to the team stats for basketball, the key ones are winning percentage, home winning percentage, away winning percentage, points per game, and opponents' points per game. 

These are also all key factors for basketball betting, and something bettors need to look at when wagering on games. 

Even though basketball is a team game player stats are also important when it comes to the game and for betting purposes. This is especially the case if you are making proposition bets for players and how they will perform in a game. The key players' stats are points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game. 

When breaking down stats, there are many of them in the game of basketball. The ones mentioned before are important, but other ones are more complex such as player efficiency, personal efficiency rating, and performance index rating. 

These can be good tools for bettors as well. However, as stated before, these stats are more complex. For example, for a NBA efficiency rating you have to factor in (PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK − (FGA -field goals attempted) – FGM -field goals made) + (FTA – free throws attempted – FTM – free throws made) + TO – turnovers. 

Popularity and Cultural Impact 

After soccer, basketball is the most popular sport on the planet, and as mentioned before, it is a hugely popular betting sport. Some of the biggest sports icons in the world play basketball, namely LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, who all would be recognized just by their first names. 

On top of that, the global cultural impact of the game is getting bigger every year. Not only are there many international players in the NBA, but the reigning MVP of the NBA is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is from Greece, born in Athens to Nigerian parents. 

Luka Doncic is a former European MVP that has taken the NBA by storm, and the Slovenian was the Rookie of the Year and an MVP candidate in the 2020 season.

The cultural impact of basketball can also be seen in basketball shoes of all things, which are now a fashion statement and collector's items. The game is growing by leaps and bounds the world over, and it looks like that will continue to happen with the massive popularity of the sport. 

About Ayden Fahlstrom
Ayden Fahlstrom author profile

Ayden loves sports. There is no doubt about that. He is a walking calendar when it comes to the latest events in sports. He has grown into the passion of writing about them, and settled into his role as a writer after many freelancing jobs. He can write about any sport out there! This is the guy!

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