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Basketball season is upon us! Let’s dive right in with one of the trickier basketball terms: 3 second violation or illegal defense.

Easy answer: this rule means offensively or defensively, a player cannot be in the paint (the giant colored box beneath the net) for more than three seconds unless they are actively guarding or shooting.

Harder answer: there’s a ton of stupid BUT’s attached to the rule.

You must be actively guarding a player, not the basket, but the “guarded” player does not have to also be in the lane (paint).

Two feet must be in the zone to start the three second clock.

If the possession of the ball changes, a shot is attempted, or the player leaves the lane, the count is suspended.

The three second violation has popped up more often lately as the NBA transitions to more zone defense plays. Obviously, if you’re playing zone defense, one of the zones has to be in the paint, so players must be very careful.

If a three second violation is called, the opposing team is awarded a free throw attempt and possession of the ball.

Basically, if basketball didn’t have this rule, teams could sign super giants with little athletic ability to stand in the paint and swat the opponents feeble shot attempts out of the air. Offensively, they could have those brutes wait patiently under the net for the ball to be lobbed to them from half court to pivot and score.

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