It’s no more news and a no-brainer that defensive fouls are a norm in the game of basketball and are unavoidable, to say the least.
Creating fouls is a strategic way of preventing the opposing team from scoring an easy layup or stealing the ball while dribbling.
Regardless, in basketball, there is a bonus structure that ensures that a team is hit with a penalty if they commit several fouls or exceed the stipulated number of fouls that can be condoned by the rules of the game.
During a basketball game, if one team commits more fouls in a given period, the other team receives a free throw attempt on subsequent fouls.
The automatic free throw attempt is referred to as a bonus. We will be discussing what a bonus in basketball entails in the popular basketball leagues in the United States.
What Are the Rules Of A Bonus in Basketball?
A bonus is awarded when one team accumulates the maximum number of defensive fouls in a quarter. There is a stipulated number of fouls that can be condoned after which a bonus is awarded.
Based on the rules of the game, the limit is 5 and this applies in the NBA and the WNBA. When a team fouls for the fifth time in a quarter, every new defensive foul results in the opposing team receiving two free throws.
The automatic free-throw is a shooting foul even if it occurs during a non-shooting situation, such as a loose ball or a defensive foul.
What Does It Mean to Be in the Bonus in Basketball?
When a basketball team is in the bonus, the team automatically enters an automatic free throw attempt when fouled again on offense.
What Happens in the Final Two Minutes of NBA Regulation?
In the NBA, each team can commit only one defensive foul in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime before entering a bonus. If a foul is committed more than once, it results in a free throw opportunity for the opposing team.
This rule is in place in the NBA to prevent teams who are still well below the number of five fouls during a game from continuously fouling their opponents to their advantage.
How to Be Strategic During the Bonus
If you end up giving the opposing team a bonus, you can be strategic with the fouls you create for the rest of the quarter. A defensive team, for example, might foul a player who isn’t very good at making free throws.
If this is the case, you can stop the clock and potentially limit any additional scoring opportunities from free throw attempts.
If there was anything like a Black Hat ideology in Basketball, then this should be it. I guess that the fans of the team on the receiving end of this strategy won’t find it funny.
Meanwhile, in the final two minutes of an NBA game, a defensive team may double team an excellent shooter to prevent that team from passing the ball to them.
That means there could be an offensive player available for a pass. To stop the clock, the defensive team may foul that available player, especially if they are not good at making free throws.
What is the duration of a Bonus in the NBA?
Each NBA quarter lasts twelve minutes on the clock. A bonus lasts for the rest of the quarter, so teams that reach five fouls early in a quarter are disadvantaged because each subsequent foul creates free “scoring” opportunities for their opponents.
What Happens If a Team’s Bonus Cap Is Exceeded?
Any NBA/WNBA team that does not have more than five fouls in a quarter may foul a player during a non-shooting situation without triggering an automatic free throw.
If a defensive foul is called during a non-shooting situation, the offensive team takes the ball to the sideline and begins a new play from out of bounds.
When the ball is started out-of-bounds, the clock stops and does not restart until the basketball enters the playing area via a pass.
Let’s digress to how a bonus works in the NCAA. In the NCAA, the defensive team can commit up to six fouls per half before an automatic free throw is awarded.
If the shooter at the free-throw line makes their first shot, they will be given a second chance. The offensive team receives a double bonus on the tenth foul, meaning they get two free throw attempts after each foul.
What does a Double Bonus mean In College Basketball?
After the tenth foul, the NCAA double bonus rule kicks in, which means that when they are in a bonus, they automatically get two free throw attempts.
Before that, NCAA bonus rules state that they are entitled to one free throw attempt and a second if their first attempt is successful. However, the NBA and WNBA start with two free fall attempts once they are in a bonus.
Differences between the NCAA and the NBA/WNBA
There are two major differences between the NCAA and the NBA/WNBA. In the NCAA, bonus free throws begin with one automatic instead of two. After the tenth foul of the half, two automatic free throws are awarded.
NCAA basketball is divided into two halves, whereas the NBA/WNBA is divided into four quarters.
Summary – What is a Bonus in Basketball?
There is a bonus structure that ensures that a team is hit with a penalty if they commit several fouls. A bonus is awarded when one team accumulates the maximum number of defensive fouls in a quarter.
In the NBA, each team can commit only one defensive foul in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime before entering a bonus.
Each NBA quarter lasts twelve minutes on the clock. A bonus lasts for the rest of the quarter, so teams that reach five fouls early in the quarter are disadvantaged.
An NBA/WNBA team that does not have more than five fouls in a quarter may foul a player during a non-shooting situation. In the NCAA, bonus free throws begin with one instead of two.
After the tenth foul of the half, two automatic free throws are awarded. The NBA and WNBA start with two free fall attempts once they are in a bonus. This is because the NBA/WNBA is divided into four quarters.