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How NBA Stats Became the Stathead’s Basketball Bible

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
Boardroom looks at how the NBA’s stats portal went from an internal tool to a league-wide phenomenon.

The NBA’s stats website turned 10 years old on Monday, and over the past decade, it has grown to include every number you would ever want to know about the Association. Literally. Every number.

The site’s launch marked a technological advancement that helped usher in a new era in sports, but at first, it wasn’t even supposed to be available to the public.

The Stats Cube Era

The league decided to launch NBA Stats in 2013 amid a burgeoning digital age. The first iteration of the site came when Ken DeGennaro, the NBA’s SVP of media operations and technology, previewed an internal tool called Stats Cube to Adam Silver and then-commissioner David Stern. Stats Cube was a system that enabled NBA employees to access and view all NBA-focused statistics. Silver and Stern thought the tool could benefit all consumers, so DeGennero developed it to be public-facing.

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This was a time when the NBA carried a lot of data that its global fanbase wanted to access. After DeGennaro led the team that built a digital tool to distribute league stats easily, they continued brainstorming how to provide a simple platform to support customization and real-time data updates.

The NBA worked with software company SAP and their HANA Platform to further build out NBA Stats — that includes enabling the portal to handle thousands of users simultaneously. When it was ready, the league first showcased NBA Stats at its 2013 Tech Summit during All-Star Weekend in Houston. Attendees at the exclusive invite-only event got to see a platform that has grown to hold 4.5 quadrillion combinations of statistics, according to an NBA rep. That includes every box score in NBA history.

A Decade Later

That initial infrastructure for NBA Stats still stands 10 years later, and the site’s offerings have been used for sports betting, fantasy data, artificial intelligence-focused offerings, and more. Today’s iteration of NBA Stats lets consumers break down every game from an analytical point of view with detailed insights about a player or team’s performance, including matchup data, shooting splits, lineup data, and more.

“There’s no other place where fans can see the advanced stats that the NBA’s Stats Site presents,” Charles Rohlf, associate VP of stats technology development at the NBA, told Boardroom. “A great example of that is our defensive matchup data. We use our player tracking data, plus some data science expertise, to encode the principles of basketball defense in an AI algorithm that effectively identifies which defensive player is matched up with each offensive player for every moment of the game. This defensive matchup data manifests in a lot of amazing ways, most notably our defensive box score. Historically, there was a gap in terms of the stats available to quantify defensive performance.”

The NBA’s digital media department strives to continue finding ways to personalize a connection to the league for fans. That spawned the NBA’s new app that lets users personalize the content and data they want to see with an NBA ID, the league’s new membership program.

“On a day where LeBron James achieves the all-time scoring record, fans are not only able to view facets of the offensive milestone, but actually analyze the defensive matchups that shaped that historic night,” Rohlf said.

Visit the site and see how many ways you can show that sometimes LBJ just can’t be stopped.

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.