Team USA Basketball heads to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with an NBA star-filled roster. The team is a heavy favorite to win the match, despite initial concerns that the team is not as talented as previous Olympic teams.
All doubts are thrown out the window after Team USA's dominating exhibition tour, winning all exhibition matches, pummeling the national basketball teams of China, Nigeria, Argentina, and Venezuela with lop-sided scores. The last match was against a very game Nigeria with a final score of 110-66.
Olympics basketball is a little bit different from the NBA rules and playing conditions that Team USA is more accustomed to. For one, the 3-point line is a little closer and the ball is more slippery. But there is no doubt the team's talent, which is incomparable to most other international teams, will win over these minor differences.
Here's a look at some of the differences between NBA basketball and Olympics basketball.
1. Shorter game
Unlike the NBA which has four 12-minute quarters, Olympics basketball will have 10-minute quarters. So Team USA will have to adapt to a much faster game in Rio.
If, at the end of 40 minutes, the game is still tied, overtime play will be 5 minutes long, similar in length to overtimes in NBA and FIBA.
2. 5 foul limit
In the NBA, players can commit a maximum of 6 fouls before they are ejected from the game. In the Olympics, players need to be a bit more careful; only 5 fouls per player are allowed.
When it comes to team fouls, the rules are the same for NBA and the Olympics basketball event. Teams that reach the fifth foul in a quarter will let the opposing team go to the free throw line to shoot 2 free throws for every succeeding foul in that quarter.
3. Closer 3-point line
The NBA 3-point line is much farther from the basket than the Olympic 3-point line. NBA's 3-point line is farthest at the top of the arc (23 feet, 9 inches) and shortest at the corners (22 feet). In the Olympics, it's 22 feet, 1.75 inches at the top and 21 feet, 8 inches at the corners.
Considering that Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and other team USA shooters already have incredible range in the NBA, it is probably safe to expect unthinkable long-distanced 3-point shots made from them at Rio.
4. Fewer Timeouts
In the NBA, players can call timeouts once they cross their half court. But in the Olympics, only coaches can call timeouts. Time-outs can also only be called after an opponent has scored, or when the ball is dead (turnovers or fouls).
In the Olympics, teams have 2 timeouts in the first half, 3 timeouts in the second half, and one timeout in overtime. In the NBA, teams have a bit more: 6 full timeouts (1 minute each), 1 20-second timeout for each half, and 3 full timeouts in overtime.
5. More zone defenses
All zone defenses are allowed in the Olympics. You can still do zone in the NBA, however, front court players are prevented from camping inside the paint.
In the NBA, while you have 3-second violations in the offensive end, the same rule exists in the defensive end. The defensive 3-second violation is the key reason why NBA teams usually don't play the zone.