Grizzlies star forward Jaren Jackson Jr. found himself at the center of a controversy in NBA online circles Saturday morning through no fault of his own when a Reddit user stirred the pot with an inflammatory post that suggested the Defensive Player of the Year candidate was benefitting heavily from a home scorekeeper bias. Though the post quickly became the primary topic of basketball discourse for the weekend, Kevin O’Connor—a senior basketball writer at The Ringer—provided his own evidence to dismiss the Reddit post as inaccurate.
The conspiracy theory began to first gain traction Saturday morning when the user claimed that they had evidence that the Grizzlies scorekeeper was “posting fraudulent numbers” for Jackson in order to make him a more compelling candidate for the NBA’s highest defensive honor. The in-depth post used both stats and video clips, including rather glaring home-away splits for blocks and steals, to make the point and subsequently cause quite a stir on social media.
While some were quick to latch onto the idea that Jackson’s case for DPOY may just be the result of shady stat-keeping, O’Connor wasn’t as convinced. To prove his point, the Ringer analyst went back and watched every single one of Jackson’s 66 home blocks this season in slow motion.
According to his estimation, only three of the forward’s 66 home blocks were mis-recorded by a scorekeeper, which he called “a completely insignificant amount.” Here’s more on what O’Connor discovered during his film study.
ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry, a former vice president in the Spurs front office and analyst for Team USA, did a similar breakdown and came to the same conclusion as O’Conner.
To try and dismiss Jackson’s Defensive Player of the Year case as fraudulent due to some eye-popping home-and-away splits would not only be negligent, but it would also just simply be wrong. Jackson would be leading the league in blocks if he’d played enough minutes with 3.1 rejections a game and the Grizzlies boast the best defense in the league since Nov. 15—when Jackson made his season debut after a return from injury—due in large part to the 23-year-old forward roaming the middle.
The one aspect that could hinder Jackson’s case for his first DPOY would be availability, as the 2021–22 blocks league leader has missed 16 of the Grizzlies’ games this season and struggles to stay out of foul trouble when he is in the lineup. However, when he’s on the court—playing on either his home court in Memphis or at an away arena—Jackson is a dominant defender, capable of staking his claim as the NBA’s best.