NBA Referees and the 2014-2015 Utah Jazz

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Towards the end of last April, I wrote a post ( analyzing the impact NBA Referees had on Jazz games during Tyrone Corbin's tenure as Utah Jazz head coach. To think that my referee nerdery would go out with Corbin's reign in charge, is as foolish as trying to drive to the rim while Rudy Gobert is patrolling the paint. Thus, we have refreshed numbers on the NBA Referees, and the 2014-2015 Quin Snyder edition, of the Utah Jazz.

In the post I wrote last April I explained some of my reasons for tracking referees and the impact they may have on the final score, I won't rehash that here but I will mention that for this season I have expanded my analysis to include the in depth tracking of every Jazz game, rather than just a select few. As mentioned in that post, this includes charting from which position on the floor (lead, trail or center) each official makes a foul call, what percentage of his/her foul calls are against the Jazz, win/loss record (home, away and overall) for each official in Jazz games, and the total number of free throws attempted by each team in Jazz games that official has worked.

While I am certainly aware that the data I collect and write about is not going to be scientific across the board, I do believe there are trends that officials have over time that could impact the final score of an NBA game. Keep in mind that the average scoring margin in Jazz games this season is 3.3 points per game, now let's get to the numbers...

  • In games worked by the group of 7 officials who during the Corbin era the Jazz had the worst winning percentage (.226), the Snyder era Jazz have a winning percentage of .272.
  • In games worked by the group of 5 officials who during the Corbin era the Jazz had the best winning percentage (.676), the Snyder era Jazz have a winning percentage of only .250.
  • The Jazz went 13-7 in games Leon Wood officiated during the Ty Corbin era (4th highest winning percentage of any official). This season he has whistled 21 fouls in Jazz games, only 5 of which (23.8%) were against the Jazz. For what it's worth, the Jazz are 1-1 in the 2 games the former US Olympian has worked.
  • In contrast, the Jazz were 7-4 in games James Williams worked during Corbin's tenure (including 5-1 at EnergySolutions Arena), during the brief Quin Snyder tenure the Jazz are 1-4 (including 0-2 at EnergySolutions Arena), and Williams has made 62.1% of his foul calls against the Jazz.

There have been 13 full-time NBA officials that have yet to work a Jazz game this season including Bennie Adams (in my opinion, one of the worst officials in the league), Zach Zarba (one of the best in the league), Violet Palmer and Bennett Salvatore. Meanwhile we have seen James Williams in 5 Jazz games, along with John Goble and Ben Taylor in 4. Is there anything to note with having more data collected on these officials, you may be wondering? Well, but of course!

  • Ben Taylor worked 4 of the first 26 Jazz games. At that time Utah's record was 7-19. In the 4 games Taylor worked? The Jazz are a perfect 4-0. Well those must have been games against weaker opponents right? Wrong. Those 4 wins came against Phoenix, Detroit (on the road), San Antonio and Miami, the latter 2 coming on the back end of a back-to-back. Only 41.4% of his foul calls have gone against the Jazz in those games. Is it too early to customize a #46 Ben Taylor Jazz jersey?

Here are some other referee related news and notes from Quin Snyder's first 34 games as head coach:

  • In 2 games worked, Pat Fraher has called exactly 3 fouls from Lead, 6 fouls from Center, and 3 fouls from Trail in each game.
  • 46.1% (602/1305) of all fouls called in Jazz games this year have come from the Lead position (along the baseline), this is the most of the 3 positions on the floor. Tre Maddox made 12 of his 15 calls (80%) in the November 22nd game from the Lead. This is the highest percentage in one game from any position on the floor this season. However in the December 5th game vs Orlando, the crew working that night only made 12 of 41 total calls (29.3%) from the Lead.
  • In the November 24th game at home vs Chicago, David Jones did not make a foul call in the first half (he finished the game with 6 total fouls called).
  • Dan Crawford (probably the best official in the league) is the most balanced in terms of calling fouls from positions on the floor. He is at 34.1% from Lead, 36.4% from Center and 29.5% from Trail.
  • In the November 12th game at Atlanta, Kevin Cutler called 9 of his 10 fouls against the Jazz. Not for nothing, but the Jazz are 3-10 in games he has worked combined over the Corbin/Snyder era.
  • In the January 3rd game at Minnesota, there were only 3 fouls called in the 2nd quarter. The fewest in any quarter of a Jazz game this year.
  • The most fouls called by any one official this year is 26 by Utah native, Gary Zielinski. His two partners in that December 8th game at Sacramento combined to call 24 fouls.

I am the first to admit that the study of officials does not appeal to everyone. However if you have questions on a certain official or want more detail about any of the information detailed above, please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to help answer your question.

As always you can follow me on Twitter @bjcseven for more #RefNerd stats and information, or you are welcome to e-mail me at

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.