Can You Get 31/40 on This Basketball Knowledge Quiz?



By: Gavin Thagard

7 Min Quiz

Image: Keith Allison via WikiCommons

About This Quiz

It's hard to imagine that basketball started with the simple goal of putting a ball into a basket, a literal basket. Looking at the sport today, the original rules of the game make it seem like an ancient practice, played by some distant dynasty, where only the most privileged members of society could take part. Maybe there is some truth in that, but it's certainly not the way that basketball is played today. 

In the current era, basketball has become a cultural phenomenon marked by full-court sprints and highflying actions. Its popularity is mostly predicated on how many points each team can score as players fire away at the basket throughout the game. No league better exemplifies this than the NBA, but there is plenty of action at different levels to keep participants involved and fans entertained. 

How familiar are you with the sport known as basketball? From the positions on the court to the way statistics are determined, can you score on every question we throw your way? Be careful, though, because not knowing the rules might just be your downfall. 

If you're ready to give this quiz your best shot, jump in and see if you're more of a 3-and-d player or an all-time great. 

What is it called when a player grabs a missed shot?

Wilt Chamberlain finished his NBA career as the all-time leader in rebounds, racking up 23,924 of them throughout his career. In his best season, Chamberlain averaged 27.2 rebounds per game.


Why does an offense get two points if the ball is tipped above the rim by a defender?

During an NBA game in 2012 between the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns, Jermaine O'Neal received a goaltending call on the final shot of the game, which was tied before the shot. The call costs the Suns an opportunity to win the game in overtime.


Each team is allowed to put how many players on the court?

The Golden State Warriors from 2016 through 2019 put together one of the best five man lineups ever. Led by Steph Curry, the team won two straight championships and would have won a third had injuries not taken their toll.


Are you familiar with how the NBA determines who gets the basketball to start a game?

The NBA team that wins the tip off and opens the game with possession of the ball receives the ball back in the fourth quarter. The other teams receive the ball in the second and third quarters.


Do you know which position is typically responsible for orchestrating an offense?

Isiah Thomas is regarded as one of the best true point guards the league has ever seen. The 12-time All-Star was a team leader who led the Detroit Pistons to two NBA Championships, earning the Finals MVP in one of them.


If a player wants to substitute into the game, they must go where?

Players can receive chalk at the scorer's table, which is used to dry their hands for a better grip on the ball. LeBron James used to throw this chalk into the air during his pregame ritual, but the NBA forced him to stop.


The best players can get inside for an easy layup, which is worth how many points?

When a team needs two points, Kyrie Irving has proven he's one of the best in the business at getting them. The skilled offensive weapon uses a variety of moves to get to the basket, hitting his shots 46 percent of the time.


Which number is assigned to the center position?

There have been many great centers throughout the history of the game, but none were quite as dominant on offense as Shaquille O'Neal in his prime. O'Neal bullied opposing players underneath the basket, where the big man scored at will.


Where does a player go to shoot foul shots?

At just over 98 percent, Jose Calderon's 2008-09 season was the best of any player from the free throw line. Calderon accomplished the feat while playing 68 games for the Toronto Raptors.


Do you know which type of defense requires each defender to play a single offensive player one on one?

Scottie Pippen, who played sidekick to Michael Jordan, was one of the greatest one-on-one defenders throughout the '90s. His defensive skill helped the Chicago Bulls bring home six NBA championships.


After an inbound pass, where does an offensive player have to progress the ball not to get a backcourt violation?

In a 2007 college basketball game, Byron Eaton hit an incredible half-court shot in the second half against the Texas Longhorns. His shot seemed almost impossible considering he was turned away from the basket and falling out of bound when he hit it.


Can you identify the offensive position that's abbreviated with an SF?

By tradition, LeBron James has been a small forward throughout his NBA career. However, considering that he controls the ball most of the time, he is actually more of a point forward in today's NBA.


What does a player earn if they pass the ball to a teammate who immediately scores?

By the end of his 19-year career, John Stockton had more assists than any other player to ever step on the court. Stockton benefited from playing alongside Karl Malone, who was called "The Mailman" because he delivered the passes to the basket.


A player has accomplished what if they thrust the ball downward through the basket?

Nicknamed "The Human Highlight Film," Dominique Wilkins was one of the most prolific and violent dunkers in the league from the time he entered the NBA in 1982. His ability earned him two NBA Slam Dunk Contest trophies.


What is it called when an offensive player without the ball sets a screen then moves towards the basket?

Few players in NBA history could defend the pick and roll quite like Hakeem Olajuwon. The two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year had a 7 feet 6 inch wingspan that allowed him to defend both offensive players at the same time while cutting off any passing lanes.


Can you name the personal foul given out if neither player is in possession of the ball?

Players in the NBA who can't shoot free throws are often fouled on purpose near the end of games. Defenses use this strategy to get the ball back, while also not allowing the other team to run up the score or run out the clock.


An offense must get a shot off before the play clock runs out. How long do they have?

Buzzer beaters are all the rage in the NBA, firing up a crowd and cementing a star's legacy as a clutch shooter. Damian Lillard hit a legendary buzzer beater against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 NBA Playoffs that sent the Thunder home and his Portland Trailblazers to the next round.


Which foul is called on a coach for requesting a timeout their team doesn't have?

If an NBA coach receives two technical fouls, they are ejected from the game. Some coaches, like Gregg Popovich, have been known to purposely get thrown out of a game to send a message to both the referees and his players.


If a defender gets the ball away from an offensive player, they're awarded which stat?

In a matchup against the Miami Heat in 1999, Kendal Gill came into the game looking to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. He did just that, tying the single-game record for steals by pressuring the offense for 11 takeaways.


Do you know when the play clock starts on an inbound pass?

In a 1995 playoff game, Reggie Miller scored eight points in only nine seconds. Three of those points came when he stole an inbound pass from the opposing team and scored on a three-point shot.


A basketball rim is placed how high off the ground?

Considering the rim is 10 feet off the ground, taller players have a natural advantage when it comes to basketball. Yao Ming, for example, stood 7 feet 6 inches, which made him a problem for opposing players on both offense and defense.


When a player slams down a dunk on a pass from another player, which type of play has occurred?

When Chris Paul joined the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011, he was placed beside two high flying big men in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The trio put on a show with alley-oop after alley-oop, which earned them the nickname "Lob City."


A defender who stops a shot by making contact with their hand earns what?

Dikembe Mutombo was one of only a handful of players to make it into the Hall of Fame because of his defensive prowess. Mutombo only averaged 9.8 points per game during his career, but he did average 2.8 blocks per game.


Can you identify the foul called when an offensive player with the ball runs into a defensive player in a stationary position?

LeBron James preserves his body during the season, but he isn't afraid to put it all on the line in the biggest moments. He did just that in the 2018 NBA Finals, stepping in front of Kevin Durant to take a charge call. However, the referees reviewed the call and overturned it in favor of Durant.


Are you familiar with when an NBA overtime ends?

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the Philadelphia 76ers in a matchup that went into three overtimes in 2017. In the end, the Thunder came out victorious after Andre Robertson hit a shot under the basket after receiving a pass from Russell Westbrook.


In the NBA, a player is ejected from the game on which type of foul?

Draymond Green was suspended from Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals after he received his fourth flagrant foul of the playoffs. The suspension allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to win the championship.


A player has committed what if they break the rules on the court?

Players in the current era of basketball are often criticized for being too soft as the rules of the game have changed, resulting in less contact and easier shots. The rule changes have opened up a place for smaller players, who rely on spacing and speed to get open shots.


Players are often criticized for exaggerated the extent of a foul. What is this called?

James Harden has become a master at flopping while also getting the foul called against the opposing player. It's one of the reasons he has led the league in scoring the past two seasons, even earning the NBA MVP in 2018.


The person in possession of the basketball cannot stop their dribble then restart, or they have committed which foul?

Not even the best players in the NBA are immune to committing a double dribble in the heat of the actions. Kevin Durant did just that in the final seconds of a game in 2019 against the Miami Heat. The problem is that the referees forgot to call the foul, but that's what Durant earns for being a star in the NBA.


On an inbound pass, a player has how long to get rid of the ball?

Chauncey Billups made a living from being one of the craftiest players in the NBA, which led to his sneaky inbound pass off Kobe Bryant's back in the Western Conference Finals. Bryant, who played for the other team, had no idea the pass was coming, leading to an easy score for Billups.


To draw an offensive foul, a defender must position themselves outside what?

Anthony Tolliver has found a place in the NBA as a defensive specialist, particularly when it comes to drawing offensive fouls. This unique skill has earned Tolliver a place on 10 different teams throughout his NBA career.


Are you familiar with the name given to a shot that bounces off the backboard and goes in?

Tim Duncan made so many bank shots during his time in the NBA that it almost seemed like the 15-time All-Star had found a cheat code to the game. His skill off the glass helped the San Antonio Spurs win five NBA titles.


When does a team enter the bonus due to fouls given?

Saving a foul for a late-game situation can sometimes be crucial in the final shot attempt. The foul can both allow a defense to reposition itself while also taking time off the clock as it runs down.


How long is an NBA game?

Played in 1951, the longest game in NBA history lasted 78 minutes and spanned six overtimes before it finally ended. Oddly, the final score of the game was only 75-73 with the Indianapolis Olympians coming out victorious over the Rochester Royals.


If a player wants to post up, where on the court should they go?

Kevin McHale was a masterful player from the elbow, which he used as part of his post-game. In his best season, McHale averaged 26 points per game while shooting over 60 percent from the field.


Do you know which foul is called during a fast break when an offensive player is hit by a defender to keep them from scoring an easy basket?

No team over the last several seasons has been as good as the Golden State Warriors when it comes to getting fast breakpoints. With a roster full of players who could push the ball, opposing teams racked up quite a few clear path fouls against them.


How far from the basket is the corner three-point line in the NBA?

In large part to the three-point shooting ability of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA has changed in recent years into a three-point shooting frenzy. The best shooters now pull up from just about anywhere beyond the arc if they are left open.


When is a defender allowed to hand check an offensive player?

Nikola Jokic, who plays power forward for the Denver Nuggets, has proven he's as good as anyone with his back to the basket. Not only can he score from this position, but the big man is also a great passer.


A team is awarded how many timeouts throughout a game?

Coaches implement a variety of strategies when it comes to utilizing their timeouts throughout a game. One reason timeouts are called is to stop the momentum of another team when a player gets hot and is scoring at will.


What is another name for the key on the basketball court?

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a force coming down the free throw lane, where he slams the ball on any defender in front of him. His highflying ability has led many to call him the "Greek Freak."


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