How Many Players Are On A Basketball Team? (Find Out Here)

Basketball is a sport that is well over a century old. This sport has become among the most popular and competitive in the world, even having risen to the level of an Olympic sport. However, not everyone is familiar with the intricacies of the game and finds themselves wondering how many players are on a basketball team.

A basketball team can have five active players during a game and up to seven reserve players that can be substituted in at any time. An NBA team can have up to 20 players in the off-season, and 15 players during the season, with only 12 active players in every game.

The truth is that the answer to this simple question is not as basic or straightforward as it seems. The number of players on the court is different from the number of players on the team, and the number of players on a team changes through the year. Let’s explore the answers to this question and find out how team dynamics function in basketball.

How Many Players Are In A Basketball Team?

The most important aspect of basketball is the players. The players on the teams determine the outcome of the game, and how the players are managed significantly impacts the process of the game.

This sport has been developed over more than 130 years, which means that the refinement of how the game is played has led to a perfect team sport that is played with various strategies.

Among the most important strategies in the sport is how to use players. Every team has a set number of players that are permitted to be on the court at any given time, but they are also allowed a set number of reserve players that can be substituted into the game at any point.

This leads many people to really wonder how many players are there on a team. It can be confusing to understand and keep track of how many players a team has if you are not watching the sport, so let’s approach the answer to this question from two approaches: the number of active players on a team, and the number of reserve players on a team.

Active Players In A Basketball Team

Since the inception of the sport, basketball has been played with two opposing teams built of multiple players on each side. Playing with an even number of players is imperative to the game and prevents any unfairness in the sport.

When the sport began, it was played with nine players on the court, but the truth is that the original sport was designed for teenagers, and as the sport grew and began to be played by larger men, it became necessary to reduce the number of active players that each team has on the court.

Modern basketball is played with five active players on the court per team. This means that there are five players from each team playing simultaneously and ten total players on the court at any given time.

There can never be more than five players from each team on the court at any time during a basketball game, as this is a rule violation and results in severe consequences while also making the game very unfair.

Every team consists of many more than five players, but only five active players from each team are permitted on the court at once.

Reserve Players In A Basketball Team

We have learned that there are five active players from each basketball team on the court during a basketball game, but there are more players on the team than the five players on the court.

Every basketball team is permitted to have up to seven reserve players ready to be put into the game at any time. These substitutions are used to keep players fresh, to substitute injured players, and even to combine the strengths of various players to produce the best possible game outcome.

Using reserve players is part of the strategies that are used for basketball, and the teams that use their players with the best strategies are the teams that win games.

The truth is that there are even more players on a team than the twelve players that are used during a game. Teams are permitted to have up to 15 players on the team during a reason, even though only 12 of them will be used to play games.

Why Are There Only Five Active Players On A Basketball Team?

Basketball is an indoor team sport that has been active for many years, but when it began, there were more than five players from each team permitted on the court at any time. Nine players from each team could occupy the court simultaneously, so why did the rules change to only allow five players per team on the court?

The truth is that only five players are allowed on the court at once simply because basketball is a very involved, active, and intense sport, but it is also an indoor sport, which means that there is very limited space available for the game.

Basketball was designed to be played indoors, as it was developed in the winter months of the American North West, which experiences very cold temperatures. The invention of basketball provided school-age teenagers with a sport that could be played indoors due to the freezing temperatures.

The game was originally played by teenagers, who are smaller than the professional NBA players of today, and playing with nine players on each team was not challenging.

However, the speed at which the modern game moves and the size of modern pro basketball players simply mean that there is not enough room on the court for eighteen players as there once was.

Five players per team result in ten players on the court at any time, which is already challenging enough for the players.

Keeping the game to five active players per team keeps the game fair and provides the athletes with the space that they need to play good basketball.

What Are The Positions In Basketball Teams?

We have established that there are five active players on each team during a basketball game, but why is having five players important, and how are these players used to win the game?

The truth is that basketball is as much a strategy game as it is a physical game. There are five active players in each basketball team, and each player fulfills one of five basic roles on the court.

Every player has their own strengths and weaknesses, and allowing them to play to their strengths keeps the team strong overall. The five general positions are not set in stone, and the players do not have to keep to their positions, but it gives every player a good starting point for the game and provides a clear direction for the game.

Players can play however necessary within the rules of the sport, and they do not have to only play in certain positions, but let’s explore some of the important roles of each position in a basketball team.

Point Guard

The team point guard is usually the shortest player on the team but the player with the best ball-handling skills.

The point guard assists their teammates more than any other player. This position must be fast on their feet and able to score easily, but they must also have a team-focused mindset for the game rather than only trying to get the ball into the hoop.

Shooting Guard

Shooting guars play on the wing of the court and must be prolific shooters from the 3-point and from long range as well. These players must be in the right place at exactly the right time and remain mindful of what is happening in the game at all times.

The shooting guard must be able to limit and defend against the opposing team’s star player and is usually referred to as a defensive specialist. These players are integral for defense, as well as for shooting and scoring.

Small Forward

The small forward must be the most versatile player on the team and able to perform well in any situation on the court.

These players must be fast, aggressive, and high-performers. The role of the small forward is similar to the shooting guard and is often used interchangeably with this position. These players play on the wing and are always available for offense and defense.

Power Forward

The power forward is the most dependable and powerful points scorer on the team. This player must be intelligent, quick-witted, crafty, and able to adapt quickly to the game.

The power forward should be able to score from almost anywhere and is responsible for scoring as many points as possible while supporting the rest of the team as much as possible.


The center player is usually the tallest player on the team and is responsible for scoring points from close to the basket. These players should be able to gain ball position quickly and run the ball deep to score close points low down.

This is a challenging position, but a good center can make the team great. The center must be a master of defense and offensive play alike.


Basketball teams can have 12 players per team, with seven held in reserve and five players actively on the court. This structure is ideal for the game and provides a strong playing field for both teams. This player arrangement encourages strategy and teamwork above all.


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