Nobody likes fouls. Players who grift for fouls during the game are hated, every foul call seems controversial, and stopping to call and adjudicate fouls breaks up the flow of the game. The best stretches of NBA basketball occur when there are no fouls called.
With that being said, fouls are also a part of the game. How many fouls does each player get in a game before they foul out? When do teams trigger the “bonus” for the other team? And who fouls out the most? Let’s dig into all of your foul-related questions.
Each player in an NBA game can commit five fouls without being removed from the game. When they commit their sixth foul they are disqualified and have to leave the game. This is in contrast to college basketball, where players are disqualified at the fifth foul. If a game goes to overtime a player is not awarded any more fouls.
An NBA team can commit up to four fouls during any single quarter without any additional penalty. Once they commit their fifth foul of the period, however, that foul and any subsequent fouls will always result in the offended team shooting free throws. Common fouls charged as team fouls will “be penalized by one free throw attempt plus a penalty free throw attempt” per the NBA rulebook. In an overtime period, this number is reduced to three fouls before the penalty is assessed.
Additionally, if a team has not exceeded the foul limit by the time the clock hits two minutes remaining in the period, the foul count resets and they get one more foul without penalty. From there, each additional foul will result in two free throws.
When a team hits the threshold for the increased penalty for common fouls, the other team is said to be in the “Bonus”.
Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis committed the most personal fouls last season with 279, while Memphis Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. committed the most fouls per game with 3.6.
Sabonis also holds the honor of the most times fouling out in a single game, doing so a whopping nine times last season.
Evan Mobley leads the way in this category, committing a team-high 218 fouls last season at a rate of 2.8 per game. He is also the only Cleveland player to foul out of a game multiple times, doing so twice.
Here is a list of the 10 players in franchise history who have committed the most fouls:
1. Zydrunas Ilgauskas – 2591 fouls
2. Bingo Smith – 1752 fouls
3. Hot Rod Williams – 1720 fouls
4. Danny Ferry – 1670 fouls
5. LeBron James – 1618 fouls
6. Anderson Varejão – 1582 fouls
7. Brad Daugherty – 1466 fouls
8. Tristan Thompson – 1438 fouls
9. Phil Hubbard – 1378 fouls
10. Austin Carr – 1341 fouls