Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cooking the sports books

Confessions of an NBA scorekeeper

The bias is plain to see. Just look at the home-road splits. Last season, home teams leaguewide scored 101.58 points per game; road teams, 98.32. That's to be expected: Teams play better at home. What's surprising is that assists and blocks rise disproportionately for home teams — assists by nearly 8 percent, blocks by more than 15 percent. Last year's Nuggets averaged 25 assists at home, only 19.4 on the road. They recorded 7.3 blocks per game at home and just 4.7 outside Denver.


James Hanley said...

OK, I've been pondering this. The count of the number of assists and blocks obviously doesn't affect the game., so it's not like refs calling fewer fouls on the home team. And I suppose I could see more assists being given at home, as there's a bit of judgment involved, but that many more blocks per game? There's not that much judgment involved in determining whether a player blocked a shot, is there?

Scott Hanley said...

I think there's some leeway for judgment on blocked shots. When a player misses a close shot in a crowded lane, I'm often uncertain whether he missed because he was trying to avoid the block or whether an opponent did get his hand on the ball. Unless someone goes back and reviews game film to verify your stats, you can probably do a fair bit of fudging.