The "no charge" circle in basketball.

Why? Why shouldn’t a team be allowed to play defense under the rim? What’s the point of this circle?

Because otherwise a defensive player could stand right in front of the rim and draw a charge every time a player on the offense drove to the basket.

What’s wrong with that? If a defensive player is standing there, the offensive player should find another route. How else can a guy play defense? If he moves it’s a blocking foul, but if he stands there it’s an “inside the circle” violation.

Is this just a way to make basketball a slam dunk show?

Just standing there isn’t playing defense, though.

He’s allowed to stand there. There’s no such thing as an “inside the circle” violation. The rule is that if the defender is standing in the circle and a player on the offense drives into him, the offensive player can’t be called for a charge. Otherwise, like I said, guys on defense could just stand in front of the basket and try to draw charges on every play. That’s not good defense and it’s not interesting to watch. The defender can still play defense by playing actual defense, i.e. trying to keep his man away from the basket, trying to block his shot, steal the ball, and so on.


At least in the NCAA (and I think in the NBA), the restricted area only applies to a help defender, not the primary defender.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the primary defender or a help defender in the NBA.

Not so:


Another opinion: Yes.

Not that the NBA is going to put it in those terms of course. They’ll use words like ‘encouraging action’ and ‘exciting offense’ or “not good defense and it’s not interesting to watch”. But there’s no real other justification, so yeah, it boils down to making it easier to dunk.

You understand he’s asking about a rule change from 15 years ago, right? The circle affects drives, not dunking in particular.

Not so much “a slam dunk show” - otherwise, why bother with the 3-point line - but it stops teams from parking an extremely tall defender (e.g. someone like Manute Bol) underneath the basket and forcing the other team to either (a) go for the dunk and end up with a charging foul, or (b) pulling up short for a lay-up and getting the shot blocked. In that way, it does allow for more dunks.

However, I think the intent of the no-charge circle is diminished by the change in the NBA’s illegal defense rule, since the defense can no longer keep a player underneath the basket constantly.

The NCAA changed its rule at the start of last season to apply only to a “secondary defender”:

However, a “secondary defender” is any of:
“a teammate who has helped a primary defender after that player has been beaten by an opponent because he/she failed to establish or maintain a guarding position. A defensive player is beaten when the offensive player’s head and shoulders get past the defender.”;
“a teammate who double teams a low post player”;
or, any player, when outnumbered in a fast break (e.g. a 2-on-1).

The circle certainly aids dunks. It also aids drives that are lay-ups and not dunks, but I think that’s a pretty nitpicking distinction in this case. The point is that there is no justification for the rule other than to increase ‘exciting’ scoring at the rim, and even if some scores at the rim are not technically dunks, I don’t think reasonable people would object to describing a game with lots of scoring at the rim as a ‘slam dunk show’. So, I think it’s pretty fair – with only the tiniest bit of hyperbole – to say that the rule is there to make the game a slam dunk show.

And yes, I’m aware the rule dates from the period when the league was doing anything it could to increase scoring (e.g. eliminating hand checks) in hopes of creating another Jordan. What’s your point?

I’m confused; the previous illegal defense rule – in place at the time the circle rule was added – was more restrictive about parking a big guy under the basket than the current ‘defensive 3 seconds’ rule (previously, the big man had to be guarding someone at all times. Now, he can park, as long as he stays just outside the paint until he starts defending a particular person).

No, it’s a significant distinction. The no-charge circle makes it easier to drive to the basket, which is pretty much the object in basketball: the most efficient and desirable shots are the ones closest to the rim - including but not limited to dunks - and driving to the rim is also a good way to bring about an open three-pointer. So the circle does make it easier to score, but it doesn’t do so in a way that just makes it easier to dunk. It’s misleading to say it’s just about dunks, particularly if it might be more helpful to players who are driving the lane. “Dunk fest” is a matter of opinion, I guess, but we may as well be straight about what the no-charge circle does. It does not just enable dunking, and while it probably helps scoring, I don’t have a problem with a rule that prevents people from playing defense by going to the rim and just standing there.

I guess it is, but I am of that opinion. Just another reason the pro game has lost interest for me. With everyone taking an extra step on their drive, anyway, it’s all about the quickest, most direct path to the basket - and that, too me, is uninteresting.

There are other ways to get to the basket besides dunking. Gervin’s finger roll, Dantley’s post-fade, or something like this…

Thanks for the correction, I had no idea! :smack: