Scoring System of Basketball

Basketball on court

A basket scored can count as one, two or three points, depending on your shooting location. A free throw remains the only way to score outside of game play, as it occurs after a whistle. Basketball rules determine when you will have an uncontested free throw worth one point. The dimensions of the basketball court determine where a shot must originate for it to count as three points.

How to Score

To score a basket in basketball, the ball must pass through the hoop from above. The shot must originate from somewhere on the playing area. If the ball does not pass completely through the basket, no points are counted.

Free Throw

Each free throw made counts as one point. The free-throw line is located 15 feet from the backboard in the center of the floor. For you to receive a free throw, the opposing team will have to commit a foul on you as you shoot or commit more than five personal fouls over the course of one quarter. If you are fouled as you sink a basket during game play, you will receive one bonus free throw. If you miss the shot, you will receive two or three free throws, depending on the location where the shot originated.

Two-Point Shot

Any basket from a shot taken from inside the three-point line during game play counts for two points. The three-point line is located 23 feet 9 inches from the center of the backboard. If a player steps on the three-point line before releasing the ball, the shot will count for only two points.

Three-Point Shot

Any basket from a shot taken from outside the three-point line counts for three points. The shooting player can step on or cross the three-point line after releasing the ball; the shot will still count for three points. The shooter must have at least one foot on the floor outside of the line before taking the shot.

Scoring Records

A National Basketball Association game can take a variety of different forms. The highest-scoring game on record was a 186-to-184 victory for Detroit over Denver in 1983; the lowest-scoring game was a 62-to-57 victory for Boston over Milwaukee in 1955. Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for most points scored in a season, 4,029, and in a game, 100. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the career points record with 38,387.