How Many Players Are On A Basketball Team?

A traditional basketball team has around 12 players, but it can also go as high as 15 in some cases.

Basketball is a game played between two teams of five players on the court from each team.

If you want to learn more about the game of basketball and how many players are on a basketball team, then read on as I explain this in detail.

How Many Players Are On A Basketball Team (Including Substitutes) In The NBA?

According to NBA rules, a professional basketball team playing in the NBA should consist of no more than 15 players during the NBA season, 14 of which are signed under contracts.

That number goes up to 20 once the offseason starts, as it gives opportunities to other basketball players trying to crack a slot on the team before the season begins.

These players are the ones who want to prove they belong in the league and have also struggled to find a permanent team elsewhere.

Once the NBA season starts, there are differences in the team’s overall number and size.

There are a few reasons why NBA teams can go well beyond the maximum number of players in a team.

Note: NBA teams can have 12 to 13 players in a game. While this may seem rare, it has been used frequently by most teams for various reasons. However, the league must approve it first.

How Many Players Are On A FIBA Basketball Team?

According to FIBA Rules, a FIBA basketball team can have a 12-man roster two less than the allowable players in the NBA.

No more than 12 players, including the captain, can play in FIBA-sanctioned basketball games.

The two teams are allowed to field five players each on the playing court.

How Many Players Are On A College Basketball Team?

The NCAA follows the same rules as the NBA with regards to the number of basketball players allowed on each team.

A college basketball team can have a 15-man roster in the lineup. The 15-man roster consists of 13 active players and two inactive players on the bench.

How Many Players Are On A Street Basketball Team?

Streetball is a lot different than professional basketball leagues. Rules aren’t as strict and have a lesser formal structure than others.

Most streetball games are played in a 3-on-3 format, unlike basketball which allows five players.

Two street basketball teams battle it out in a race to 21 whichever team reaches 21 points first will win the game.

In some sanctioned leagues, final scores can be determined by time. A streetball game’s structure varies widely throughout the world.

Note: In the case of a FIBA 3×3 game, a 10-minute game period is added and whoever reaches 21 first or who has the lead before the time expires wins the game.

How Many Players Are On A High School Basketball Team?

High school basketball levels vary a lot, and this is because there are various organizations these schools play in.

One reason behind this is that schools are inclined to follow the rules and regulations in different federations and leagues.

However, as I’ve scoured the internet, high school teams joining various leagues are allowed to have 18 to 20 players on average.

The same can be said for junior varsity teams as well.

Schools are allowed to have more players than the average amateur and professional leagues for two reasons.

  • Firstly, having more players allows for finding the best players out of the bunch and uncovers potential each of the players have.
  • Secondly, the level of commitment in these levels is quite uncertain as they aren’t signed into contracts.

High schoolers are sometimes not committed to playing full-time basketball as most of them do it for fun or it is their way of destressing.

What Role Do The Five Players Play On The Basketball Court?

There are five main positions on a basketball team. Here are the main roles of each position:

Point Guard

The point guard is the team’s natural playmaker, facilitator, and primary dribble handler.

These players also tend to be the smallest players on the team.

This is believed to be a great feature due to their low center of gravity, allowing them to dribble effectively and efficiently compared to taller players.

They are also tasked to make the necessary play calls that the coach has assigned during their practices.

A person who plays this position should run the offense like a well-oiled machine and provide pinpoint passes.

This allows other team members to shoot their shots or throw alley-oops for easy scoring opportunities.

Precise ball distribution, throwing accurate passes, and being the team’s vocal leader are the ultimate features a point guard should possess.

Shooting Guard

A shooting guard, also known as “off guards” and “two guards,” primarily focuses on scoring and playing great defense on the opposing team.

Some basketball teams also allow their shooting guards to run the offense as a point guard does.

What makes a shooting guard one of the most important players on the court is their versatility on offense and defense.

They can facilitate the offense, pile up points, or guard the opposing team’s best scorer.

One of the greatest players this sport has ever seen happens to be a shooting guard, and his name is Michael Jordan.

A shooting guard’s height tends to be around 6’1” to 6’7” in terms of the NBA average and other professional basketball games sanctioned by the international basketball federation.

Small Forward

Small forwards might be the most versatile player on a basketball team. They are mainly tasked to guard the opposing team’s small to big players and grab rebounds.

They work the same way with shooting guards, but small forwards tend to be much taller and stronger; hence, they are great at grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, or even stealing.

One of the most valuable traits a player playing this position should possess is the ability to grab rebounds, guard opposing players effectively, and score when needed.

In the NBA, small forwards make up the majority of scoring leaders. Players such as Kevin Durant, Lebron James, and Carmelo Anthony are versatile offensive scorers.

In addition, a small forward can be played interchangeably, and they can play the small forward and power forward positions, called ‘tweeners’.

Power Forward

A power forward is one of the basketball positions tasked to command the paint.

They are positioned under the basket, allowing them to grab more rebounds, block shots, and make the enemy miss whenever they go to the basket.

They are also one of the taller members of a team roster, allowing them to play the center position in some cases.

A power forward’s primary offensive option is going for offensive rebounds, shooting from the perimeter, and making free throws.

This role has greatly revolutionized over the years; they are one of the most versatile positions in basketball today, as they can play three basketball positions, SF, PF, and C.


Centers are the tallest players on the court of any basketball team. They patrol the paint and are often tasked with similar duties to a forward.

And because they spend almost all of the time under the basket, they tend to have more blocks and rebounds than most players on the court.

They can score under the basket, from the midrange, or dive in for offensive rebounds and putback dunks on offense.

Centers are also usually perceived to be terrible free throw shooters when compared to other positions.

They are the ones who try to intimidate opposing players on the court whenever they attack the basket.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the game of basketball.

What Is A Dead Ball?

When a ball is not in play on the basketball court, it is considered a dead ball.

Scenarios such as foul being committed, a player attempting a free throw, or when the ball is going out of bounds.

How Many Players Does An NBA Team Need?

NBA rules state that a team can have a minimum of 12/13 active players on their roster.

However, the league-wide average for players on a team should be around 14 active players per team.

If a team cannot field the allowable number of players, they will be surcharged.

How Long Is A Basketball Game?

How long a game is will depend on what type of game it is. To give you a further breakdown of this:

NBA Basketball

An NBA basketball game consists of FOUR QUARTERS, and each quarter is 12 minutes for a total of 48 minutes.

However, it doesn’t end in 48 minutes as the game clock often stops because of violations, timeouts, and half-times.

An NBA basketball game goes beyond the 48 minutes when both teams have the same score when the clock ends.

As a result, the game is extended for five more minutes until one team emerges victorious.

There’s no limit to how many overtimes can be played in an NBA game.

FIBA Basketball

Unlike NBA games consisting of four 12-minute quarter periods, a typical FIBA basketball game has four 10-minute quarter periods.

But in overtime, the same rule is applied with the NBA with 5-minute overtime periods. There’s also no limit to FIBA overtimes.

How Many Players Sit On The Bench In Basketball?

When an NBA game starts, the number of players sitting on the bench should be around 7 to 9 NBA players, as the starting players are already on the court.

In FIBA-sanctioned games, there should only be seven active players on the bench as the other five are already playing. Note that the FIBA only allows 12 players on a team’s active roster.

Assistant coaches and other players from the starting lineup can also sit on the bench if they are subbed out.

However, a dead ball situation and a timeout is the only way for a player to be subbed out.

What Is An NBA Hardship Exception?

An NBA Hardship exception is a rule allowing teams to have an available roster spot.

This will only be allowed when an NBA team has four sick or injured players on their active roster that may go for two weeks or more.

This rule basically allows an NBA team to go well beyond the maximum of 15 players required for a team; the number of players permitted can go up to 16.

However, an independent doctor, not the team doctor, must assess whether the injured players will likely miss two weeks or more to get the approval of the NBA.

When the NBA allows for a hardship exception, the team can sign a temporary player from the G League to play for the team until the sick or injured player comes back to play.

Do All Active Players Play?

Yes and no.

Not all active players get to play basketball. An NBA head coach typically fields around 9 to 10 players.

As a result, two or more active players don’t get to play the actual game, which can be a trend for future games.

The number of players who gets to play also varies from time to time.

There are a lot of factors to it, such as:

  • Defensive purposes
  • Key matchups
  • Players getting injured
  • Players getting into foul trouble

In addition, this is not uncommon for this sport and other sports. Some bench players are on the team to make it to the number of players a team requires.

What If There Are Injuries on the Team?

If there are more than four injured players on the roster at any given time, a team is allowed to have 16 players on the roster.

However, when the injured player returns, they must go back to a 15-man roster. This rule is called the ‘hardship exception.’

In addition, if injuries ravaged the team, the coaches are allowed to sign two-way contract players. These two-way contract players are from the NBA G League – NBA’s minor league.

What If the Team Has Suspended Players?

A basketball player suspended for four to five games also allows a team to have a 16-man roster. But, they can only add on the third day of the player’s suspension.


Basketball is a team sport and one of the most popular sports on the planet today. They have inspired millions to become the best basketball players in the world.

Let’s also not forget the important people contributing to the team’s overall success, from the head coach to assistant coaches and even to the physical therapists.

I hope this guide has helped you learn a few things about the game of basketball that we all love.