Cory Jez, the Analytics Insider for the Portland Trail Blazers broadcast team, is receiving national attention for his first season on the job.
In an in-depth piece for Dime UPROXX, NBA writer Jackson Frank dives into the fresh basketball perspective Jez is bringing to Portland television screens this season.
In his first season as part of the Blazers’ crew, Jez holds a mantle as the lone Analytics Insider across all 30 NBA broadcasts. His title is legitimately unique. The broadcast has a deal with Second Spectrum, which enables Jez to share statistical insights like the ones mentioned above and quantify what everyone is watching. The type of information ranges from pick-and-roll production to points per possession against zone defenses to catch-and-shoot numbers, all drawn from the game occurring in the present moment.
“It’s so helpful to the listener or to the viewer to be able to quantify actions,” says Michael Holton, Television Studio Analyst. “Cory helps us with data that quantifies actions.”
Frank details how the Blazers’ unique off-season search for an Analytics Insider led them to Jez and how Jez’s career journey — which included included jobs with the Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz — led him to Portland. The portrait gives a better understanding of the man behind the stats.
Maybe most interesting, Frank provides a behind-the-scenes look at Jez’s on-air process and research.
Jez’s preparation prior to and during games is rather extensive. He approaches his job much the same way he did as Director of Basketball Analytics with the Jazz when he helped prime assistant coaches for upcoming opponents by trying to answer these questions while observing film and sifting through data: Who does what? What stands out? What are their trends?
On Second Spectrum, he watches a slew of offensive and defensive possessions of Portland’s next matchup and notes different lineups, rotations, schemes, and preeminent players. Then, he supplements the eye test with information from Second Spectrum and Cleaning The Glass to establish the theme of his first couple on-air hits.
Usually, his pre-game and first quarter segments are scripted ahead of time. He’s also collaborating with the graphics design team before games to determine how the numbers he’s referencing or discovering can best be displayed visually and enhance the stories being told. Even if he’s not mentioning them during his sidebars, the graphics stem from his scrupulous research.
While the action unfolds, Jez is watching on two feeds. One is live and the other is on a ~10-second delay to let him pick up on anything he may miss initially. He’s tracking real-time data via Second Spectrum and Cleaning The Glass on two other screens. TV timeouts are his solace and afford him the bandwidth to ready for another segment as he researches what he’s seeing on the floor.
With Jez coming on this season and growing within his new role, he’s enlightening fans and fellow broadcast members with new ways to watch the game.
You can read the full piece here.