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Spigot/Vanilla does not provide any level of protection against packet spam. As such, individual players can send as many packets as they want.
I found that while testing on 1.13, I could send about ~40,000 move packets to the server and either take it down or make it lag very hard due to the processing of the move packets on the server thread.
The solution was to limit the maximum packets/s a client could send.
The configuration is simple, containing a max packet rate and the interval that rate is measured over. The kick message is also configurable.
In general, raising the interval will allow higher peak packet rates, which will be better for players with very poor networking. Lowering will have the opposite effect.
The defaults are targeted at preventing obvious packet spam, like my example, while still leaving good room for players with really bad networking.