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Sportsbook draws more attention to NBA stat corrections

Sportsbook draws more attention to NBA stat corrections

It was a fundamental two-handed chest pass from Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine to DeMar DeRozan in the third quarter of a Feb. 9 game in Charlotte. Big money was at stake, and the NBA’s most invested fans were watching closely.

DeRozan caught LaVine’s pass on the move, took a dribble into the paint and hit a running jumper on one leg while drawing a foul. The Bucket put the Bulls up 67-56 over the Hornets with 7:18 left in the third quarter. It seemed like a textbook help from LaVine, but it wasn’t notated that way.

Hundreds of statistical data points (assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, etc.) are recorded during an NBA game, many of which require real-time interpretation. These days, there’s apparently money on all of them, including LaVine’s chest pass to DeRozan.

LaVine was not credited with an assist on the play. Sportsbooks had offered the most/minus on LaVine’s assists for the game at 5.5. He finished with five assists.

Major online betting communities had partnered with LaVine for assists, including in long-range parlays with big payouts. They thought a correction of the statistics was warranted. The NBA did not.

Kenny McAndress, a 28-year-old punter and social media personality from Philadelphia, looked back on LaVine’s decision two weeks later and said, “That one just seemed so simple. I have to rethink how I do my building bets, because I want to avoid assists.”

Frustrated punters regularly take to social media to wonder how games that impact their bets are scored. Most of the time, there is disagreement on the interpretation of a tight play, as if a pass “leads directly to a made basket” to be considered an assist. A handful of complaints, however, prompted the league to issue corrections. When this happens, some sportsbooks end up paying out on both sides of the bets: the side that won the original decision, then the other side after the box score has been corrected.

“Our fans are obsessed with stats,” Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA’s senior vice president who oversees the betting space for the league, told ESPN. “We agree that getting it right is essential. We felt that for a long time, even before sports betting was legal. Of course, there is a brighter light on some of our stats given the sports betting, but it has always been essential for us to have good statistics.”

It is a riddle with no definitive solution for the league, the bookmakers or the punters. Human error is inevitable. Ultimately, most stakeholders realize that stat-keeping errors are — and always will be — part of the game.

Corrections are gaining notoriety

Stat fixes happen in all sports. The NFL, for example, releases weekly reports on stat changes.. Recent corrections made by the NBA have received more attention, however.

The NBA refutes any suggestion that there has been an increase in stat corrections. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the league’s official statistician, the NBA has released far fewer stat corrections in the past three seasons than in previous seasons. Neither the NBA nor the ESB provided the percentage of games that receive corrections, but both entities – and several sportsbooks – called them “rare”, especially since millions of data points are seized throughout the season.

During the last week of January, however, the NBA issued several corrections. At least two of them were preceded by an outcry from bettors on Twitter and in media coverage, including from ESPN. An assist wrongly credited to Chris Paul was given to Mikal Bridges a day after a Utah Jazz-Phoenix Suns game on Jan. 24, and three days later the NBA gave Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards a steal that he was initially uncredited in a game against the Golden State Warriors. Punters drew attention to both.

“There is no eruption of corrections in terms of volume,” Kaufman-Ross said in a phone interview in February. “I think people pay more attention to it.”

Indeed, they are. In a way, the increased fan engagement that the NBA predicted when pivoting its stance on sports betting is now evident as bettors point out the league’s mistakes. No one expects them to stop, but more transparency and communication from the league is needed, bettors say.

“I don’t know where it’s going, if the policy doesn’t change, because right now there’s nothing forcing them to do anything,” McAndress said.

Basketball is a difficult sport to score live. The action is fast-paced with fewer and shorter breaks than baseball or football. More than six people make up the stat-gathering teams assigned to every NBA game. Four are on site: a primary and secondary caller, and a primary and secondary responder provided by the local team. At least one NBA employee from the league office in New Jersey is assigned to each game and is directly connected to the onsite secondary caller via headset. They all have access to video replay from about a dozen different angles and the ability to communicate with each other on judgment calls. Yet, even with all the technology, mistakes do happen and cost punters and bookmakers money.

For decades, the standard house rule for sports betting in Las Vegas has been to not recognize stat corrections. Bets are traditionally settled on the statistics initially published. But newer bookmaking companies, like FanDuel and DraftKings, have taken a new approach to corrections, even if it costs them.

“There are probably a handful [of stat corrections] a more high-profile year that people might notice,” said Karol Corcoran, managing director of online bookmaker FanDuel. “We understand that it is difficult for our statistics providers to do everything right 100% of the time.

FanDuel’s rule on stat corrections centers on the official box score distributed by the NBA and is written broad enough to allow for changes. The bookmaker ended up paying both sides of recent bets impacted by stat corrections.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure our customers’ experience isn’t negatively impacted by some of these errors,” Corcoran said. “It’s – excuse my language – a kind of s—- experience when you lose a bet just because of a mistake. Sometimes it’s obvious you made the mistake; other times it’s it’s discretion, so we try, where possible, to catch up with customers.”

Interpreting statistics can bring confusion, careful scrutiny

McAndress, a young Philadelphia sports bettor and media personality, has over 3,500 members on his Discord server, Moonshot HQ. On February 9, he recommended the community for a five-inning parlay with LaVine to get over 5.5 assists against the Hornets.

Moonshot HQ buzzed after LaVine’s pass to DeRozan in the third quarter. Username alopbanana was among the first to notice that LaVine hadn’t received an assist, posting “bro wtf”.

21EnerG weighed in next: “They robbed Lavine of an assist on the and one.”

“It’s 100% help,” simm added.

Guy summed up his sentiment with “They hate us”.

The chatter moved to Twitter with bettors scorned posting videos of the game and tagging the @nbastats account.

Here is a video of the LaVine-to-DeRozan piece:

here is a video of an example of an assist on the NBA website.

The two games look similar, but the NBA hasn’t issued a correction.

In an email response to a fan asking why LaVine wasn’t given any help, an NBA representative wrote, “Thank you for contacting us regarding a play in the Bulls-Hornets game of February 9. Be aware that assists are credited at the discretion of in-game arena statisticians. Additionally, please note that the NBA Operations team does not credit or remove assists after the game; passes credited to the wrong player are updated.”

McAndress says inquiries about questionable scoring decisions often go unaddressed by the NBA, fueling frustration in the betting community.

“Other than someone like us, if we lose a bet on a particular example, other than finding it and going to fight about it, who else complains about a missed rebound or a missed assist? ” McAndress said. “I’m sure it’s something that’s probably happened naturally for as long as they’ve been keeping stats.”

The NBA says it’s still looking for ways to improve its process, but no changes were planned for stat collection at this point.

“Unlike some other sports, where you have a game and then 30 seconds between throws or 40 seconds per game, our game is in real time – a steal, a block, an assist, a 3, a turnover. .. all of this stuff is happening at a very fast pace. It’s hard to do,” Chris Berrisford, director of basketball operations for the NBA, told ESPN. “We have a lot of stats, and they happen quickly. I think given the number of stats we have and the pace of our game, I think we should feel pretty good, it’s rare, but it will happen. .”

And when stat keeping errors do occur, it’s a safe bet that players will be the first to spot them.