The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are right around the corner and the world is hyped up for the quadrennial Summer games. Hundreds of the world’s best athletes will compete in Tokyo to get a medal for their country. Team USA in men’s basketball has always been a juggernaut of talent who easily grab medals at the Olympics. The NBA is by far the best basketball league in the world and Team USA picks superstars and All-Stars to form its roster. They have won the gold medal every Olympic season since 1992 except the 2004 Athens Olympics. However, Team USA hasn’t had the best start to their Olympic campaign. They have lost both their exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia and now analysts are questioning if this team can maintain the USA’s gold record.

What rule changes do NBA players face in the Olympics?

What angry fans don’t realize is that the basketball rules operating in the Olympics and the NBA are different. The NBA is not an international competition, but rather just one league operating in a single country with the freedom to have its own rules and business ventures. Whereas, the Olympics come under the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) rules. There are significant differences between the two rules and Team USA needs to adapt to the changes to gain an advantage. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences in rules between the NBA and Olympic Basketball.

Olympic Basketball Courts Are Slightly Smaller Than The NBA’s

An official NBA court is 50 feet wide and 94 feet long, but in the Olympics, the court is only 49 feet wide and 92 feet long. Not only this, the FIBA three-point line is slightly shorter than the NBA’s, so players like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard are somehow, even more, deadlier on the national level.

Game Length Is Shorter In Olympics

In the NBA, every game includes four 12-minute quarters. In the Olympics, though, each quarter is only 10 minutes long. So, FIBA-regulated games are eight minutes shorter than the games in America. The shorter quarters means top players that usually need to rest during NBA games, like Zach Lavine or Zion Williamson, will be able to have a little extra juice in the 4th quarter of a shorter international game.

Olympics Have No Defensive Three Second Rule

Ever wondered why the tallest players, like Joel Embid or Rudy Gobert, don’t camp in the paint, waiting to block shots during NBA games. Well, it’s because players can’t stay in the restricted area around the basket for more than three seconds. Luckily for those two international stars, this rule does not exist in the Olympics, which means players like Giannis Antetokounmpo can’t take advantage of floor spacing as easily. This rule could also be the reason that Luka Doncic once said that the NBA is easier than the Euroleague in his rookie season.

Goaltending/Basket interference

In FIBA play, there is hardly any goaltending. Players are prohibited from touching the ball on a downward flight toward the rim in both FIBA and the NBA. However, once the ball touches the rim in FIBA, any player can make a play on it by swatting it away or tapping it in. Of course, the NBA utilizes an imaginary cylinder above the rim, and touching the ball in this area is a violation.

Amount Of Fouls Allowed

Players in international competition foul out of games at just five fouls, which include personal and technical fouls, compared to six personal fouls in the NBA. Both FIBA and NBA reward two free throws once a team reaches five fouls; technical fouls count toward team fouls in FIBA, unlike in the NBA. Also of note: There is no defensive three-second violation in FIBA.

Jump Ball

FIBA utilizes the possession arrow, like in the NCAA. The only jump ball that occurs during international play is the initial tip to begin the game. The team that loses the initial jump ball gets possession for the next jump ball situation with it alternating thereafter.

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