Olympic Basketball vs NBA: A Closer Look at Major Differences Between International and League Rules

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Olympic basketball rules vs NBA rules

Neither the NBA (National Basketball Association) nor the Olympic's basketball rules are universal. While international competitions follow FIBA rules, North America's premier pro league has its own set of rules. However, with many NBA players representing Team USA in the Paris Olympics this year, they will have to acclimate to a different style of play.

Let’s have a closer look at the major difference between Olympic Basketball vs NBA rules.

Key Differences Between NBA and Olympic Basketball Rules

#1 Shorter game

Both NBA and Olympic basketball games have four quarters. However, while the league plays a total of 48 minutes in the game, the Olympics plays only 40 minutes. Each quarter in the league is 12 minutes but in the Olympics, each quarter is just 10.

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Although there is a difference between the quarter minutes, the shot clock of 24 seconds remains the same both in the NBA and the Olympics.

#2 The 3-point line is slightly closer

In terms of three-point offense, the USA players will find it easy to make long-distance shots. For players like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, it will be easier to score three-pointers. While the three-point shot line is 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the key in the NBA, it is only 22 feet, 1.75 inches in the Olympics.

Moreover, the length of the three-point arc is 22 feet at both ends of the corners in the National Basketball Association, it is 21 feet, 8 inches in the Olympics.

#3 Timouts are shorter in the Olympics

When it comes to timeouts, the league had a more complex system than the Olympics before the 2017-18 season. However, now the league has a simpler rule but there is still a big difference between Olympics and NBA timeouts.

The league allows a total of seven timeouts to a team during the regulation, that is during the four quarters. They also allow a total of two timeouts to each team during each overtime. These rules are different in FIBA / Olympics.

In the Olympics, every timeout is one minute long. Each team gets two timeouts in the first half of the game and three timeouts in the second half of the game. Teams also get only one timeout during overtime.

Teams have only two timeouts after the 3-minute mark in the NBA, the same rule is limited to 2 minutes in the Olympics. Moreover, unlike the basketball league where players can also call timeouts, the Olympics allows only coaches to call timeouts.

#4 NBA players have more fouls

When it comes to the NBA, each player has six fouls to give. After committing six fouls, the player has to exit the game and not return to the court. However, the Olympics is not that flexible on the foul. According to the FIBA rules, each player has only five fouls to commit during a game, after their fifth foul, a player has to exit the game.

#5 Basket interference is more flexible in Olympics

The league has stricter rules than the Olympics when it comes to basket interference. While a player is not allowed to touch the ball when it is above the rim, even if the ball is going upward, the Olympics allows it. If a player dunks the ball or touches it when it is above the rim, it will not be counted as basketball interference.

#6 NBA Defensive three seconds rule doesn’t apply in Olympics

The NBA’s game is more offense-oriented. However, when it comes to FIBA, the rules are more balanced and the defense also has more flexibility to check the offense. In the NBA, a defensive player can’t stay in the paint for more than three consecutive seconds.

However, in the Olympics, a defensive player can establish himself in the paint and make more impactful defensive plays. The Olympics allow better and stronger zone defense.

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Edited by James Carter
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