How to reach the bonus rule platform in NBA(2020 Updated)

Committing fouls in NBA and their assessment is a tough analysis and that is why there is an official NBA rulebook which enunciates on every foul committed and on what grounds has it been committed. The NBA bonus rules are a territory of its own and have its own set of rules and regulations.

In this article, we have pointed out the nature and characteristics of fouls that need to need to be committed by NBA players to put them under the bracket of Bonus.

Here is what you will come across in this extensive article-

  • What are the fouls you need to commit until you get a bonus?
  • Last 2 Minutes of a Quarter for an NBA bonus.
  • Bonus Overtime Rules
  • Foul To Give?
  • A look at James Harden fouls.

What are the fouls you need to commit until you get a bonus?

Looking at this first aspect, you need to seriously put things into perspective. It is not a straightforward rule that can determine a bonus foul.

To begin with, a description regarding the NBA bonus foul is present under Rule 12 Part 5 Section B in the official NBA rulebook.

What is the bonus in basketball?

“The first four common fouls committed by a team in any regulation period (quarter) shall result in the ball being awarded to the opposing team on the sideline nearest where play was interrupted.  The ball shall be awarded no nearer to the baseline than the free-throw line extended.”

It clearly states that when a particular NBA team commits four fouls as an entire team, the ball is awarded to the opposing team where they can throw it from the sideline from where the game was stopped.

This puts the opposing team at an advantage since they are throwing the ball from the sideline closest to their shooting side.

However, the four fouls is an initiation towards the bonus.

How many fouls until the bonus?

The NBA bonus will only be initiated when a team commits five fouls in total.

On committing the fifth foul in a quarter, the ball is awarded to the opposing team, and the player who is fouled from the opposing team gets two free throw shots.

The bonus resets after every quarter.

How long is an NBA quarter?

An NBA quarter lasts for 12 minutes.

The NBA bonus is counted in every quarter and not every game.

When the team commits four fouls in a quarter, the opposing team is awarded the bonus penalty.

How many fouls are allowed in the NBA?

Let’s cut to the chase. An NBA player is allowed five fouls.

However, in a normal college basketball match, a player is allowed 4 fouls.

How many fouls to foul out a player in NBA?

The NBA guidelines for this are different from the college basketball tournaments.

Usually, from what you hear, in 45 minutes full-length match at a college basketball tournament, a player has to commit a total of five fouls to be fouled out.

However, when it comes to the NBA, in a 48-minute match length, a total of six fouls need to be committed to being fouled out.

In the NBA, the ‘fouled out’ rule only applies if there are five able players left in the game. If it is less than that, then the ‘foul out’ rule cannot apply here. 

What kind of fouls are counted for the bonus?

Don’t get too excited thinking any kind of foul will count for the bonus. Only two kinds of fouls get counted.

The first type is a defensive foul and the second one is a loose ball foul.

The kind of fouls that do not get counted here is the offensive ones that include charges, illegal screens, and push-offs.

Bonus Overtime Rules are different from Regulation Time-

The bonus rules during overtime do not apply to the bonus rules stated under regulation.

Here is how it works.

Overtime during an NBA match is typically for three minutes, as opposed to the regular NBA quarter which is of twelve minutes.

So, in an NBA overtime match, to reach the bonus, the team needs to commit to three fouls as opposed to four in a regular NBA quarter.

In the overtime period, on committing the fourth foul, the opposite team player who has been fouled gets free throws. This is different from what happens in a regular NBA quarter, where on committing the fifth foul, the opposing team player who has been fouled, gets two free throws.

Bonus Rules Change Last two minutes of a quarter-

Everything is going well.

Suddenly, in the last two minutes of the period, everything seems to change. The bonus rules change, and this means that a change in strategy is also called upon.

So, what do you think happens in the last two minutes of the period, or during overtime? We are here to tell you that.

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During the last two minutes of overtime or a normal quarter, in case a team commits a foul, the ball is awarded to the opposite team and they can throw it from the sidelines, close to where the foul took place. This is elaborately stated in the NBA official rule book.

In case, a second foul is committed by the fouling team during the last two minutes of the match, the opposing team player who has been fouled gets two free throws.

This rule is skillfully put into the official rule book because the last few minutes can usually turn into a foul-fest and the authority needs to avoid this.


Imagine a situation where one team has not picked up any bonus fouls. If the two-minute bonus rule did not exist, the opposing team could give up over four fouls within those two minutes in order to stall the match. (Since it takes five fouls to reach a bonus during a regular NBA quarter game). 

What is a Foul to Give?

Have you ever come across this term ‘foul to give’? Well, I’m sure if you follow basketball closely, you will notice the referee saying that there is a ‘foul to give’ at the end of a match.

Let’s recap a little to understand what this means.

We all know the concept of bonus in an NBA match by now. If you still don’t, scroll up and read the section on bonus rules, which has been discussed elaborately.

A ‘foul to give’ call usually takes place at the end of a game when a team on the offense has committed four fouls and still has a fifth one to go.

This means that the one last foul can be committed by the offensive team towards the end of the game.

While giving a foul to the other team certainly seems like a disadvantage position to be in, it also means that by giving the fifth foul at the last minute, the defense team’s strategy is hampered, because now they are awarded the ball to throw it from the sideline, resulting in a few seconds off the clock.

The defense is at a disadvantage because it is only the fifth foul. Only on the sixth foul can they be awarded free throws which might boost the scoreboard. However, since a ‘foul to give’ takes place within the last few minutes of the match, that is not possible. 

Clever move I tell you!

Let us take a look at some of the iconic James Harden’s Fouls-

James Harden is known as the most fouled man in the NBA. He has a typical way of shooting and he mostly attempts three-pointer shots. And, I mean three-pointer shots from every angle you can possibly imagine.

He attempts such shots from angles and delivers them correctly, from where it is physically impossible to score.

He goes to the particular side of the court where the defense takes time to reach him and attempts his throws from there. These shots would never make it if it wasn’t for James Harden attempting them.

Ironically, he shoots in 90% of those shots.


Hopefully, this article has cleared all your doubts regarding the bonus rules present in the NBA.

My question to you is,

Who is your favorite NBA player and why?

Let us know if you have any further queries regarding the rules of the NBA and answer the question given above. We would love to hear from you and give you back the details you want to know. 

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