NBA Basketball Referees

In this article, we’ll take a look at NBA officials and consider how much who is calling the game might affect might affect the outcome. We did the same thing for MLB baseball in our article regarding umpires.

Like MLB umpires, some bettors rarely seem to consider who is behind the whistle when it comes to betting NBA contests. In today’s information age, there are several resources to find up to date information on each referee’s tendencies.

More Fouls = More Points In NBA Games

NBA Referee Factor

Historically, an increase in foul calls equals more points scored.

There shouldn’t be too much explanation needed for this point, but we’ll go ahead with it. The NBA is a game of possessions and pace. The more possessions each team receives, the more points that will be scored in that contest.

This should be evident to anyone who has watched the end of a close NBA game. The final two minutes of game time in a close basketball game can turn into a half hour of actual real world time.

This is usually because the team that is losing is often fouling or chucking up shots early in the shot-clock to get back into the game. Referees that call more fouls will lengthen games and offer more possessions for both teams. Foul calls also stop the clock and allow teams to put more points on the board without time elapsing from the game clock.

Simply put, the more fouls calls in a game, the more points that will be scored. Therefore, referees, that call more fouls will produce more points in the games they officiate.

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NBA Referee Data And Betting Odds

Referee data is now readily available at a number of sites. offers up to date statistics on each referee’s tendencies, including their points per game allowed and bias towards home teams, a factor that we discuss more in-depth in our article on NBA Homecourt Advantages. posts their officiating schedule for each day on their site by 9 am eastern time. This isn’t quite early enough to make them a factor when betting overnight lines, but those who rise early may be able to take advantage of these numbers before any significant line moves on game day.

How Valuable Is NBA Referee Data For Making Bets?

That’s certainly up for debate. NBA referee factors have been something that handicappers have been utilizing for years and the sportsbooks absolutely factor in which official is refereeing each contest into their betting lines.

Also, while it’s true that officials who call more fouls preside over higher scoring affairs, and there seems to be a significant home team bias – referees are only one factor in the larger handicapping landscape of each game. Bettors who are blindly betting the over on referees who call more fouls than others and not utilizing other aspects of handicapping aren’t likely to find success. Instead, incorporating the “referee factor” into your arsenal of tools for evaluating NBA games makes much more sense.

There are many other factors to consider before we begin to look at referees, but a strong matchup with officials may upgrade a play that may already be on handicapper’s radar screens.