My short bio: I work at all home games for a major market NBA franchise. Our crew is in charge of keeping all of the statistics in real-time during the game. These stats get displayed on the scoreboard in the arena, on the television broadcast, and on the internet (including apps on your smartphone like ESPN ScoreCenter)

My Proof: The fine print on the reverse of my NBA credential: Please note I can not reveal which team I work for. I will say that it is one of the NBA's marquee major market franchises.

Comments: 56 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

shaunc11 karma

So when I'm hearing "he has more points in the paint in the last 8 minutes than he's scored in the entire series," this is something that you're responsible for feeding to the broadcasters? Does each franchise have its own set of statisticians or is there one big group working for the NBA at large? How are things like this calculated on the fly and how often are they updated? Do you have some whiz-bang interface where you're entering every player's shots, points, turnovers, fouls, and whatnot?

After all of that, do you actually enjoy watching an NBA game?

quabi6217 karma

Yeah, we are responsible for all of the in-game stats that you hear on TV. The broadcasters will have a monitor in front of them with a running box score so they know up to the second, which player/team is doing what.

Each franchise has it's own stats crew, so it's always the home team's crew that does the games.

Everything is done by computer. As the events happen, they get put into the computer and from there they are fed to the monitors in the arena (TV broadcasters, scoreboards, etc.) and the internet, so they can go up on various gamecasts

quabi628 karma

I cant kick back with a beer like I do at games that I'm not working at, but it's still an enjoyable experience watching the game.

AdonalFoyle4 karma

So when I'm hearing "he has more points in the paint in the last 8 minutes than he's scored in the entire series," this is something that you're responsible for feeding to the broadcasters?

The broadcasters usually have a stats-man that sits right by them where all he does is feed them statistics like this. You can see him if you look closely and the broadcasters will sometimes reference him.

quabi622 karma

That's true. But that stats man who came up with that interesting fact is getting his real time game stats from us, usually via a monitor.

theshortone52010 karma

Whats the toughest part about your job?

quabi6219 karma

Definitely how fast a typical NBA game moves and the pressure associated with that.
We need to keep track of every single shot with details (shot type, shot location, assist, etc.) Many times there are 3 or 4 shots and rebounds within just a couple of seconds, maybe a block or something in there too... and we have to get all of that (maybe 15 different details on any given play) into the computer as it happens. If we miss something and fall behind, TV broadcasters are getting incorrect stats, people in the arena are seeing the wrong things on the scoreboard, and gamecasts on the internet are all wrong. So it takes a lot of concentration, and it's really not something anyone can do.

skeena18 karma

What do you think of this?

quabi6214 karma

i mostly skimmed through the article, but what I can say is there are certain stats (assists are the most obvious example) that are left up to the scorer's judgement. We are warned to be unbiased and fair, and I always try to be. I guess if someone wanted to "fudge" some numbers, they could... but these days everything gets taped and reviewed anyway, so if someone was doing it a lot they'd probably get caught and fired. Giving Nick Van Exel a couple of more assists in a game wouldn't be worth my job.

senorpapagiorgio8 karma

Do you need a towel when reviewing Michael Jordan's stats?

quabi6211 karma

No. Maybe LeBron's though.

dribblers5 karma

Why dont you make your data available to the public for free via API?

quabi6210 karma

i have no idea what API is

btRiLLa5 karma

application program interface

basically, in non tech/programming terms, creating a library that allows external users to say "hey, can i see the last 10 teams that lebron scored more than 5 threes on?"

quabi623 karma

that's way above my pay grade, lol

NoodleBird445 karma

Where do you sit when you are recording the stats?

quabi622 karma

Different arenas and teams have different locations for their stats crews. Usually it is at the scorer's table (the courtside table the players squat in front of when they are about to check into the game.) But some arenas have it on the opposite side of the court, and some arenas have it up higher off the floor to give a better angle on the plays (think of a baseball TV broadcasting booth.) The team I work for has moved us around a few times, so I've sat in all of those locations. Personally, I like sitting up a little higher. You're not as close to the players on the court, but the average NBA player is 6'6", and if one of those guys is standing in front of you when the play happens, it can be pretty difficult to see everything.

LazyBrownDog454 karma

Not sure this is your kind of stat.

But what is the most amount of money any nba player has made in their career without playing a single minute?

quabi625 karma

you're right... not my kind of stat. Probably one of these guys:

-Zonz-4 karma

How much do you make a year?

quabi6217 karma

Not much at all. It's not the sort of job you can live off of. Afterall, we're only working 41 nights a year, and only for a few hours per night.
Most of the game night staff guys like myself have normal, full time, 9-5 day jobs to pay the bills, and we do games a few nights a week for some extra spending money. We all get paid per game, not on a salary or anything like that.

AgentCooderX3 karma

ey so how do you guys do it in realtime? do you have like a button for every stat like "+" "-" in your computer, is it a touch screen computer? or a shortcut button on the keyboard or something? i always wonder about this real time stats thing.

quabi622 karma

We have a touch screen computer (Two computers actually) that has virtually every stat/play that can happen in a basketball game. As the events happen in the game, we enter them into the computer. So if player #1 misses a shot from the top of the key, player #2 grabs an offensive rebound and has a put-back dunk, we enter that all in, in that order. Obviously that's three things happening in a very quick time frame, so it takes some practice to do it quickly and accurately. The plus/minus and all those type of metric stats are generated by the computer on a box score based on the data that we are entering.

TobaTobaToba3 karma

How can I get your job?? :(

quabi6220 karma

Ever heard the expression "It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know?"

Long story short... I knew somebody.

desertrat1132 karma

What is the most difficult stat to keep track of?

quabi623 karma

There's probably 100 stat guys working for the NBA right now and they might all tell you something different, but for me it's anything that happens away from the play. Obviously, like anyone watching the game on TV at home, when I'm working I'm looking at the guy who has the ball because 9 out of 10 times that's where whatever is going to occur next occurs. But sometimes there will be a foul away from the ball, or someone will get called for 3 seconds, or a technical foul or something like that, and you didn't necessarily actually see it happen because you weren't looking at that part of the court. It can sometimes be difficult in that situation to know every detail of the call.

twothousandandwhat2 karma

I've always wanted to know, do you focus on recording an individual player or look to record a certain stat that occurs during play?

quabi621 karma

Both.... and more.
We record every detail on every play. The type of play, the type of shot (layup/dunk/3 pointer/etc.), the player(s) involved, the location, the referee who made the call (if there was one), and the timing are all kept track of. For every single play in every single game.

DaMassa2 karma

I'm currently studying Statistics at college, any tricks of the trade worth knowing?

quabi622 karma

Honestly what I have found is that it's more about knowing the sport than about knowing the stats. I've been watching basketball my entire life, so I know most of the intricacies of the sport and many of the obscure rules. It helps to know that stuff when you are trying to be very quick and accurate during an ongoing game.

dylanmatt1 karma

What happens when you make a mistake?

quabi622 karma

We go back and fix it. It happens a couple of times every game, there's no avoiding it. Usually, depending on the error it gets fixed within a minute or two. Check out my answer to Newnewhuman's question above.

MichaelLuciusJulian1 karma

Have you heard of Philip Maymin? He's a financial engineering prof who created an algorithmic General Manager.

quabi621 karma

Never heard of this before but that's a pretty interesting read. Sometimes it's fun to think about the fact that so many things in sports are automated and done by computers nowadays, but at the end of the day it always comes down to a human coach calling plays on the sideline of an NFL game, or a human GM making the pick in the NBA draft. We haven't completely been replaced by the machines... yet.

erratic_behavior1 karma

Do you travel with the team when they play away?

quabi621 karma

Nope. Every NBA team has it's own stats crew, so it's always the home team's crew doing the game. We all use the same computer program to enter the stats, and we all receive the same rules, instructions, memos, etc. directly from the league... so there is a certain level of consistency.

Newnewhuman1 karma

If error were made on the broadcasting session, do u get any kind of punishment or warning?

quabi621 karma

During the game... probably not, unless we REALLY mess up something bad (like the score or something.) We're all human and we do make errors occasionally (the NBA game moves so fast its impossible not to) but we try to correct them as we go along so that any erroneous data is corrected within a few minutes of being entered. The computer program we use will warn us if something we entered doesn't make sense, and then we just have to go back and fix it, so it's usually a pretty quick process. Immediately after every game, a log of what we entered gets submitted to the NBA (along with a copy of the game tape.) When that gets sent, it needs to be error-free, otherwise they won't accept it.

mt1rdt1 karma

Do you see basketball stats getting as ingrained to the sport as baseball sabermetrics have become?

quabi621 karma

Yes and no. Baseball is different, because it's a much more individualized sport. If a guy is batting .310, he's a .310 hitter. If a pitcher has a 6.45 ERA, he's just not a great pitcher. In the NBA, player stats are much more subject to play calling, offensive systems, etc. LeBron will be great wherever he plays, because he's LeBron. But some of the mid-tier guys, it's much harder to pinpoint what they do well and what they don't. At the end of the day, it's all about results. The 2004 Red Sox used sabermetrics and won a championship... and it took off in MLB. The Houston Rockets have a very metric approach to the game, but aside from a nice Western Conference Finals run this season, it hasn't produced much for them over the past 10 years or whatever it's been. I think metric stats will always have a place in all sports, but they lend themselves better to some sports than others.

Horse_trunk1 karma

What is the most overrated stat. The most underrated stat?

quabi622 karma

All depends on who you ask. If there were one right answer, every GM would want to make the same moves. I will say that especially in the NBA, defense does not get enough love. A great defender on your team can be the difference between a championship and getting knocked out a couple of rounds before the finals. We've seen it before... and those guys never get paid as much as they deserve when they sign their contracts.

Meds4you1 karma

First things first, you have my dream job. Assuming you touch base with college player stats, who do you expect to be the most impactful player out of this year's NBA Draft? And why?

quabi621 karma

Karl Anthony Towns has the highest ceiling, and the NBA draft is all based on potential. I expect him to be the most impactful, although he may take a few years to develop (like Anthony Davis.) In terms of immediate impact, Okafor is the most offensively polished big guy to come out of college in years.

huhaskldasdpo1 karma

Can you explain the process of how you actually gather the stat data?

quabi622 karma

see my answers to AgentCooderX's and ace425's questions above.

ace4251 karma

How do you guys track every imaginable stat possible? Do you spend hours analyzing each game in slow motion or is it somehow automated

quabi621 karma

I kind of touched on this in an earlier question, but basically all we are doing is entering into a computer a very detailed version of what we are watching happen on the court in front of us. We do this as it happens, no slow motion or anything, but we do have a DVR (like the refs in the NFL) if we need to go back and review something later although we try not to rely on it. The computer then does all the actual analyzing. So when you hear about plus/minuses, points per game, time a player has spent on the court, and all those type of stats... those are all computer generated... it's not like one of us is sitting there with a calculator figuring it all out. As long as we are accurate in what we enter, the stats the computer generates should also be accurate.

Cokeferrari-7 karma

How do you spell yawn? I spell it with lots of A's like yaaaaaaaaawn..

quabi626 karma

I'd probably add a couple of W's to go with all of the A's