Rules and Gameplay
The game of NBA basketball involves two teams, each of which has five players. Several substitute players are also available on the bench. The action takes place on a rectangular court which measures 94 feet long and 50 feet wide.
There are two baskets, one at each end of the court. The rim of each basket is 10 feet above the ground.
The object of the game is to score more points that the opposing team. In order to score points, players must get the basketball through the basket of their opponent. This is scoring a field goal, and it earns two points. Making a field goal from behind the three-point line earns three points.
In the NBA, the three-point line in the corners is 22 feet and 9 inches from the basket. Everywhere else, the distance is 23 feet and 9 inches. A free throw after a foul is worth one point.
An NBA game is 48 minutes long, with four quarters of 12 minutes each. After the first two quarters, there is a halftime break.
If a game is tied at the end of the fourth quarter, an overtime period of five minutes is added. The game is always played until one team wins, so it is possible for more than one overtime to be added.
The five main elements for the game of basketball are:
Players advance the ball by dribbling (bouncing the ball whilst moving) or passing it to a teammate. But when a player stops their dribble, they can't resume dribbling or move their pivot foot. If they violate this rule, the other team gets the ball.
A player can score with a jump shot, a layup, or a dunk. The defensive team tries to keep the offensive team from scoring the ball. They can do this by stealing the ball, blocking the shot, or grabbing the ball after a shot, which is called a rebound.
Defensive players cannot make too much contact with the offensive player, or they are called for a foul.
If a defensive player is called for a foul while the offensive player is taking a shot, and that shot doesn't succeed, the offensive player gets two free throws. When the original shot does succeed, the offensive player gets the points for the made shot, plus one free-throw attempt.
If a defensive player fouls a player when they are shooting a three-pointer, the offensive player is awarded three free throws if he doesn't make the shot.
Each team gets five non-shooting fouls per quarter. After that, each foul results in two free throws.
Three Foul Types
In the NBA, the league tries to protect its players. Because of this, there are different levels of fouls.
There are three types of fouls in the game of basketball, which are:
The personal foul is the most common, and involves one player making illegal contact with another. A personal foul is most often called on the defensive player. Having said that, there are also fouls that can be committed by the player on offense. An NBA player who is assessed six personal fouls will be out of the game and unable to return.
A flagrant foul is where the player is called for unnecessary contact which the referee views as excessive. If a player has two flagrant 1 fouls, they are thrown out of the game. A player is immediately thrown out for a flagrant 2 foul, which is more dangerous to the player fouled.
This foul is not related to the physical nature of the game. Some of the reasons for a player being called for a technical foul are:
- Arguing excessively with the referee.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct.
- Calling a timeout when the team has none left.
- Illegal gamesmanship.
How the Teams Work
In the NBA (and all of basketball), there are five player positions. These are: center, power forward, small forward, shooting guard, and point guard. The center and power forwards are typically the taller players who play 'in the paint', from the free-throw line to the basket. The forwards, shooting guards, and point guards are generally smaller players who play 'outside the paint'.
The point guard is also known as the 'floor general' and runs the team. He spends most of the time dribbling the ball and trying to set up other players to score.
One thing that has changed in the NBA over the last couple of decades is positionless basketball. This is because it flaunts the typical ways positions are played.
For example, in the NBA these days, it is common for the point guard to be the leading scorer and for centers and power forwards to play outside the paint and shoot three-pointers.
It is also common for players to be matched up against similar positions from the opposing teams. Teams can choose to play man-to-man defense or zone defense.
Man-to-man defense is each where player defends against the actions of a corresponsing opposonent. another player. Zone defence involves players being assigned to certain zones and defending those zones.
The game starts at the center of the court, with the referee tossing the ball up between two opposing players. This is the 'opening tip'. Both teams then try to get the first possession.
Strategy and Tactics
Basketball is a game that has many strategies and tactics, and this is especially the case in the NBA. There are strategies and tactics not only for the teams playing, but also for bettors making wagers on league games.
When it comes to team strategies, a team will usually try to play to their strengths. This could mean playing solid defense or having a high scoring offense that will outscore the other opponent.
For example, teams in the NBA that like to get out and run and take a lot of shots simply shoot the ball often. A team such as the Golden State Warriors in their recent dynasty, with their great shooters such as Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, scored more than their opponents en route to three NBA titles.
Most of the team strategies and tactics come from the head coach and other coaches. They devise strategies and schemes to score the ball and keep the opposing team from doing so.
The head coach is also the one that makes substitutions during the game to try to get the best matchups possible. They draw up plays and control the game according to the players that are in the game at the time. They can also control the pace by setting the tone of the game and by calling timeouts.
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A History of the NBA
Before touching on the specific history of the NBA, we should mention that the game of basketball itself goes back to the latter part of the 19th century.
In 1891, James Naismith was a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (YMCA). Naismith wanted a way to keep his gym class active whenever they were forced inside due to inclement weather.
His solution was to invent a new indoor sport. He came up with the rules of the game and nailed a peach basket to an elevated track. Thus, the game of basketball was born.
The Origins of the NBA
The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was established in New York City on June 6, 1946. Three years later, the league merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) and the name of the new merged league was changed to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
At first, there were 17 franchises in the league. This dwindled to 11 in 1950, and to eight franchises in 1953-1954. Those were the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors, Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, Fort Wayne Pistons, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and Syracuse Nationals.
Notable Moments - The Early Decades
Japanese-American Wataru Misaka broke 'the color barrier' in the NBA when playing for the New York Knicks in the 1947-48 season. Harold Hunter was the first African-American to sign a contract to play in the NBA in 1950, but was cut in training camp. But that season, other African-Americans played in the league.
In 1957, rookie center Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, who already had future Hall of Famers in player Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach. The team dominated the next decade and a half, winning 11 NBA championships.
The Chicago Packers became the ninth team in the NBA in 1961. The league expanded from nine to 14 teams from 1966 to 1968, adding the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics, San Diego Rockets Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns.
In 1967, the NBA started to compete with the ABA (American Basketball Association), which began to gain in popularity and was signing some of the biggest stars out of college
Notable Moments - 1970's to Today
In the 1970's, the NBA continued to expand, and in 1976, the ABA and NBA mergedm with four teams from the ABA being absorbed into the NBA. In 1979, the three-point line was established.
By the late 1970's, the NBA was having problems, with the main reason being a decline in television ratings. However, the league surged in popularity in the early 1980's when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird joined the league, along with Michael Jordan a few years later.
Bird and Johnson would help create the biggest rivalry in the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and each won multiple titles in the 1980's. Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won six titles under legendary head coach Phil Jackson in the 1990s.
The league enjoyed another surge in popularity in the early 1990's, when it was announced that players from the NBA could compete in the Olympics. In 1992, an Olympic 'Dream Team' was created with the likes of Bird, Jordan, and Johnson leading the way. All 11 NBA players that were on that team are now in the Hall of Fame.
The NBA has remained extremely popular, and the future of the league looks as bright today as it did in its earliest decades.
Current NBA Teams
There are currently 30 teams in the NBA with 29 in the United States and one from Canada. These are divided into two conferences, known as the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. After every season, 16 teams qualify for the NBA playoffs, with eight coming from each conference.
The NBA playoffs last two months. The team that emerges from the Eastern Conference faces the one that emerges from the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. This is a best-of-seven game series.
The 30 teams in the NBA are:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Boston Celtics
- Brooklyn Nets
- Charlotte Hornets
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Detroit Pistons
- Indiana Pacers
- Miami Heat
- Milwaukee Bucks
- New York Knicks
- Orlando Magic
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Washington Wizards
- Dallas Mavericks
- Denver Nuggets
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets
- LA Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Sacramento Kings
- San Antonio Spurs
- Utah Jazz
Wall of Fame
The so-called Wall of Fame is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. There are over 400 players, coaches, and executives in this NBA-specific Hall of Fame.
Michael Jordan is often described as being the Greatest Player of All Time, but the accuracy of that description is highly debated. Other players that are just as often put forward for the same title are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, LeBron James, and Oscar Robertson.
The official NBA logo has a Hall of Famer in Jerry West, who has also been a great executive. The NBA's 50 Greatest Players were unveiled in 1996 for the NBA's Golden Anniversary season.
Although that list was packed with Hall of Famers, there have been plenty of players who may have made the list if it was drawn up today. Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan. Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Garnett could certainly be listed, to name just a few.
The NBA has many distinctive features, but the biggest one has to be that it is the best basketball league in the world. The game is now global, and the NBA is hugely popular all over the world.
Another distinctive feature is the number of international players that are now in the league. From the legendary Dirk Nowitzki to the rising start of Luka Doncic, many Europeans and players from the world over compete in the NBA. The winner of the 2019 MVP award was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is from Greece. Similarly, Slovenian player Luka Doncic won the 2019 Rookie of the Year award and is a candidate for the 2020 MVP.
We touched on a third distinctive feature earlier when we talked about positionless basketball. No longer are centers and power forwards down near the basket and guards only on the perimeter. The game is different these days, with the big guys being deadly shooters and guards only being the smaller players that don't mix it up inside.
Measuring the performance of both players and teams is possible thanks to NBA statistics. These can also be useful to NBA bettors.
Coaches take team and player stats into account when deciding how to play certain teams and how they defend certain players. They are also looked at when it comes to seeing if a player is worthy of the Hall of Fame. NBA stats are also something that needs to be closely looked at when NBA bettors handicap games.
Some of the important team stats are winning percentage, home winning percentage, away winning percentage, points per game, and opponents' points per game.
For player stats, the important ones are points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game. Some of the stats are pretty self-explanatory, but there are other more complex ones, such as personal efficiency rating and performance index rating.
Popularity and Cultural Impact
The popularity of the NBA has had a huge cultural impact on our society. The top players in the NBA are some of the biggest sports stars the world over, and two of the biggest are LeBron James and retired legend Michael Jordan.
NBA players and the league itself also strives to have a positive impact in the community with a variety of programs that help out many people. This is not just for basketball such as youth and international NBA programs but also for promoting and helping good causes and worthy charities.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in the world, trailing only soccer. And because the NBA is the top league for that sport, its popularity continues to soar.
From humble beginnings with only eight franchises to a multi-billion dollar business, the NBA is thriving, and there is no end in sight for the best basketball league on the planet.