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NBA Nightmare? Star Defensive Player and His Team Under Fire After Allegations That His Stats Are Juiced

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With the NFL season winding down, this is when the NBA season usually ramps up.

Between the All-Star Game and the trade deadline, there are plenty of headlines the NBA wants out there.

LeBron James throws down SICK 360 windmill dunk” or “Your favorite player just got traded to your favorite team” are the kinds of headlines the NBA wants you to see this time of year.

“Is the Memphis Grizzlies scorekeeper juicing Jaren Jackson Jr.’s defensive numbers?” is decidedly not the kind of headline the NBA wants out there, and yet here it is.

For the unfamiliar, Jackson is a legitimately great defensive player for the Grizzlies. He is the perfect sidekick to rising superstar Ja Morant in just about every conceivable sense. The two just fit together.

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On the year, Jackson is averaging 16.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, which is hardly noteworthy. But when you look at his steals and blocks? In those categories he is putting up elite numbers, averaging a steal per game (a statistic typically more associated with guards, not 6-foot-11 bigs) and a whopping 3.1 blocks per game.

For comparison, Hall of Fame big men like Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo all have career block averages below 3.1 per game. It’s genuinely impressive stuff.

But people began looking closer at those numbers after a viral Reddit post noted the wide discrepancy between Jackson’s home and road numbers.

This led people to the conclusion that the Grizzlies’ scorekeeper is being uber-generous with what is tallied as a steal and/or block.

NBA blogger Jon Asaad shared some more findings on Twitter.

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While Asaad did irresponsibly speculate that the Grizzlies’ scorekeeper may have some “financial incentive” for Jackson to win Defensive Player of the Year, he also provided some striking visuals of these questionable calls in action.

A quick look at Asaad’s responses shows that many NBA fans do agree that something fishy is going on.

But while some on Twitter may be on Team Conspiracy, a couple notable NBA pundits fired back that, while there may very well be errors in official stat-tallying, it’s not the tin foil hat conspiracy you’re looking for.

Here’s The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who went to the tape and found only three incorrectly attributed blocks for Jackson at home, a number he calls “a completely insignificant amount.”

Here’s NBA stats guru Kirk Goldsberry claiming that of the 66 blocks Jackson has tallied in Memphis this year, “at least 60” are clearly blocks and properly attributed.

This is hardly the first time that scorekeeping in the NBA has been put under a microscope.

As The Salt Lake Tribune noted, Utah Jazz legend John Stockton has long grappled with accusations that his insane assist totals were aided by Utah scorekeepers. Stockton tallied 15,806 assists in his career, a commanding record that will not be broken anytime soon.

Current Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd is No. 2 on the NBA’s career assists leaderboard, and there’s a gaping chasm between him and Stockton. Kidd had 12,091 assists for his career, nearly 4,000 fewer than Stockton. In fact, Kidd is closer to 12th place than first on the all-time assists list.

But while Stockton has long since retired, Jackson is an active player and, barring injury, should play for another decade or so. His reputation would be in tatters if fans thought his impressive stats were artificially inflated.

So the NBA ran some quick damage control on Saturday.

Tim Frank, senior vice president of league operations, said in a statement that independent auditors “review all plays and stats decisions in real-time during NBA games.”

“All of the plays questioned in the post on Memphis games were scored consistently within the rules set forth by the NBA statisticians manual,” he said.

Whether you buy this explanation or not, you can bet that watchful fans will be keeping an eye on the Grizzlies (who have the second-best record in the Western Conference, despite losing five games in a row) when they host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

If Jackson notches five steals and 10 blocks, get ready for another avalanche of controversy.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Birthplace
Hawaii
Education
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech




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