What is the official size of an NBA basketball?

People who have been playing and watching basketball all their lives know everything there is to know about the game. However, there is one thing that a lot of fans don’t know; the size of an NBA basketball.

Have you ever wondered how much an official NBA ball weighs or what the size of an NBA basketball is?

An official NBA basketball weighs 22oz and has a circumference of 28.5 inches. These are size 7 basketballs and all men’s professional basketball associations including college and high school basketball leagues use the same ball. The NBA used to get all its basketballs from Spalding which was producing NBA’s official game balls since 1983. However, the NBA switched to Wilson after the 2019-20 season.

Different types of basketballs

Different types of basketballs

Usually, the size of a basketball is about half the size of a hoop in diameter. Professional leagues like the NBA, WNBA, and FIBA all have their own regulation sizes and weights which is why we see different sizes of basketballs in different leagues.

There are three basic types of basketballs; leather, composite, and Rubber.

Leather basketballs

Leather basketballs are the most expensive and are only used on indoor hardwood courts. They are made from 100% pure leather which gives them a very hard feel when they are new, however, with a little bit of wear they soften up a bit. They can’t be used on concrete surfaces because the leather would wear out very quickly on the concrete.

Composite

These basketballs are covered with synthetic leather which gives them a leathery feel, but they are a lot cheaper to make as opposed to a leather basketball. They don’t wear out as quickly too because of the synthetic leather covering. They are also much softer, which means that they have a very uniform feel and don’t need to be broken in. One advantage that they have over leather basketballs is that they can be used both indoors and outdoors. These are the most popularly used basketball types because of their durability and grip.

Rubber

These are the cheapest basketballs to produce. They are best for beginners because they generally start out playing on concrete courts and these basketballs are made for concrete courts. They also have a very good grip even if you’re playing outdoors and the ball gets wet, you will be able to grip the ball easily.

Regulation weights and sizes for different leagues.

Ball sizes and regulations change with different leagues. Every league sets its own specifications that a ball must meet to be called a regulation ball. Let’s take a look at regulation weights and sizes for different basketball leagues across the world.

NBA

The NBA uses full-grain leather balls made by Wilson. They are size 7 and weigh 22 ounces, have a circumference of 29.5 inches, and are inflated between 7.5 to 8.5 PSI. These balls are orange in color with black seams for grip.

WNBA

Spalding has been making the official game balls for the WNBA since 1997 when the league first started. The WNBA uses size 6 balls which are made with two microfiber panels that interlock to give the balls alternating colors; white and orange. The balls weigh 18 to 20 oz and have a circumference of 29 inches.

FIBA

Molten makes all the official game balls for FIBA. They use molten GL7 for men’s basketball and GL6 for women’s basketball. These balls have 12 synthetic leather panels and a 2-tone color. The GL7 weighs 15oz and has a circumference of 30.7 inches. Whereas the GL6 weighs 16oz and has a circumference of 29 inches.

NCAA

The official basketballs for the NCAA are made by the Wilson Solution. Men use the size 7 ball which has a circumference of 29.5 inches and weight of 22 oz, whereas the women use a size 6 ball which has a circumference of 28.5 inches and weighs 19 oz.

Attributes of a perfect basketball?

Material

There are a number of different materials that are used to make basketballs. Most of the outdoor basketballs are made from rubber which is very inexpensive and doesn’t wear out very quickly on concrete courts.

Then there are composite balls that are made of synthetic leather and are great for both indoors and outdoors use. They provide a much better grip as compared to a rubber ball. The NBA used the composite balls for a while before switching back to genuine leather balls because athletes were complaining of getting cuts on their hands. Most pro leagues use genuine leather balls that are much more expensive compared to other materials.

Air retentions

The standard air retention for the NBA is 7.5 to 8.5 pounds per square inch. Minor air fluctuation is not really a problem, but if a ball keeps losing air, it can be very annoying. However, that doesn’t really happen that often because of the extremely high-quality balls that the NBA uses. The ball may need to be inflated a little bit when it gets cold, but other than that, good basketballs never need ball pumps.

Grip

Sweaty hands can be a big problem in basketball. Some players used to put chalk on their hands to keep them from getting sweaty but modern-day basketballs have made the use of that technique unnecessary. A lot of basketballs nowadays come with a moisture-reducing surface that absorbs the moisture from the hands giving the athletes a lot more control.

Channel width and groove depth make a big difference when you’re handling the ball or taking a free throw. They give your fingertips additional grip which allows you to handle the ball easily

Bounce

The best balls out there provide you consistent and reliable bounce. They have smoother surfaces which provide bounce consistency and reliability. While the grooves come in really handy when palming the ball or taking free throws, they can cause the bounce to be unreliable at times, which can be a big problem when dribbling.

Why did the NBA switch to Wilson?

Spalding was the NBA’s official ball manufacturer since 1983 before they switched to Wilson after the 2019-20 season. Back when the NBA started in 1946, Wilson was the official ball manufacturer for the league. The NBA stayed in business with Wilson till 1983 before switching to Spalding.

However, after the 2019-20 season, it was decided that the NBA was switching back to Wilson as their official ball manufacturer. Wilson also took over the production of basketballs for the WNBA, G-league, and Basketball Africa league.

Wilson used the same leather manufacturer and the balls had the same eight-panel configuration. Whereas the WNBA continued using composite basketball. Wilson worked closely with the NBA and its players to get the ball approved.

One of the reasons behind making the switch was the difference in the build of the balls. Spalding balls are generally more rubbery which makes them great for gripping but Wilson balls take the edge when it comes to shooting and dribbling. Wilson balls are softer and smoother which makes them better for shooting and dribbling.

Although it is still unclear why the NBA made the switch, the difference in the build was certainly one of the reasons that led to it.

The Top four NBA basketballs right now.

Wilson NCAA replica

This ball is made from composite leather and is very budget-friendly. However, it doesn’t have the same feel as some of the more expensive basketballs. This ball is perfect for both the indoors and outdoors and provides a perfect blend between control and durability.

Molten BGGX series

The molten X series came out in 2016 with a primary focus on improving handling. The pebble placement on the ball is great for gripping however, one of the newer models of the X series had no pebbles on it, which made it really slippery. The moisture absorption was not good and the overall build was very tacky.

Other than that ball, the series X balls have been very good. They aren’t too expensive and are amongst the best when it comes to handling.

Spalding TF-1000

This ball has been around for a very long time. It is one of the best indoor balls ever made. It has a wide channel design which is great for gripping. This is a composite leather ball with nylon windings which makes it very durable. However, it is only for indoor use, if you use it on a concrete court it will wear out very quickly.

Baden elite indoor

Even though Baden is not one of the more well-known brands, the Baden elite indoor is one of the top basketballs in the market right now. It is a synthetic leather ball that provides consistent bounce, has good moisture absorption, and has a very nice feel to it. It is known for its gripping and provides great control for dribbling.

Final thoughts

There are a lot of balls out there to choose from. If you’re a beginner and looking for the best basketball for you, go with a rubber-based basketball because they are best for the outdoors. They aren’t the best at absorbing moisture, but they still give you a pretty decent job, plus they are very inexpensive.

As far as pro leagues are concerned, they either use composite basketballs or pure leather-based balls because they are great with moisture absorption and have a reliable and consistent bounce.

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