How sportsbooks handled the Jaren Jackson Jr. Defensive Player of the Year controversy

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Reddit users found potential stat padding in Grizzlies home games

Jaren Jackson Jr. is an outstanding NBA player and one of the big reasons why the Memphis Grizzlies sit second in the NBA Western Conference standings. He’s the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year and is also chipping in 16.2 points per game. However, a controversy kicked up over a social media post that has gone viral about Jackson’s potentially-inflated stats.

Reddit user AdMassive6666 first posted about some interesting discrepancies in Jackson’s home and road splits on Thursday Jan. 19 in the r/nbastats/ subreddit. That post didn’t get a whole lot of run, but brought to light a potential scandal for the NBA that would have wide-ranging impacts across the sports betting industry.

 

AdMassive6666 tried again on Saturday Jan. 28 in the main subreddit for the NBA and the post went viral.

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There are over 4,000 comments on the page, tons of reactions and a whole lot of people with specific examples about some of the steals and blocks that have been credited to Jackson.

Host Gill Alexander and producer Kelley Bydlon weighed in on Monday’s edition of A Numbers Game.

Jaren Jackson Jr. Defensive Player of the Year odds

  • DraftKings -150
  • BetMGM -155
  • BetRivers -200
  • PointsBet -135
  • FanDuel -105

Noticeably absent from this list is Caesars. Why? Because they took down the odds to win Defensive Player of the Year.

Most of the sportsbooks listed above shifted their odds, as Jackson was a bigger favorite at those places prior to the Reddit post making the rounds than he currently is. Most shops, including DraftKings, had him well above -200 prior to the post going viral. Keep in mind that Defensive Player of the Year is voted on by human beings and not just a stats-based award.

The Grizzlies have played 51 games, but Jackson has only played in 33 of them after missing time due a stress fracture and the subsequent recovery at the start of the season. He was as high as +10000 in the Defensive Player of the Year market in the preseason markets. Now, he’s the favorite.

Jaren Jackson stats

In the Reddit post embedded above, the author mentions the huge contrast between Jackson’s home and road stats. Some players are certainly more comfortable at home and a lot of players usually score more points or maybe shoot at a higher percentage on their home floor, however, we’re talking about things like blocks and steals that should have no bearing on venue.

As noted, Jackson has eight of his nine games with six or more blocks + steals at home. He has 1.4 steals per game at home, as opposed to 0.63 steals per game on the road, so more than double. He has almost twice as many blocks (88) as he does on the road (45).

For the season, Jackson is averaging 1.0 steals per game and 3.1 blocks per game, but the stats are much, much higher on a per-game basis at home, leading to some serious questions about how the scorekeeper is awarding the numbers.

We also got some thoughts on Tuesday’s edition of Follow The Money from Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard.

What happens next?

The NBA has looked into this and issued the following statement: "In order to ensure the integrity of our game statistics, auditors, independent of the statisticians on-site, review all plays and stats decisions in real-time during NBA games. If changes are necessary, they are made at that time or following a postgame review.  All of the plays questioned in the post on Memphis games were scored consistently within the rules set forth by the NBA statisticians manual."

NBA analysts Kevin O’Connell from The Ringer and Kirk Goldsberry from ESPN seemingly reached the same conclusion and this just appears to be a statistical anomaly and that most of Jackson’s production is legit.

At this point, most sportsbooks are still taking action, just with adjusted odds on Jackson and this situation appears to be much ado about nothing, but we’ll keep an eye on it and share any relevant information that comes across from DraftKings or the other sportsbooks.