What Does GB Mean in Basketball? (And How to Calculate It)

You must have heard basketball pros mention "GB" while discussing matches. Or maybe you saw it in the league table or standings for the NBA or NCAA matches.

So, you've wanted to ask the question, "What does GB mean in basketball?" Well, we will answer your question fully here.

It's great you're looking for the meaning of this commonly used acronym. Plus, knowing the meaning of GB helps you communicate easily with other basketball fans and players.

You will find out what GB means in basketball, why it is essential, what it is used for, and how to calculate GB. Ready? Let’s roll!

First, What Does GB Mean in Basketball?

GB is a term you'll often see in NBA and NCAA basketball matches. It's a vital stat because it goes a long way in determining which teams are likely to qualify for the next season's playoffs.

As a result, there's a dedicated column for GB points in professional basketball league tables.

GB is the short-form for games back or games behind. These stats show how far teams are from the toppers in each table - by the number of matches played. Games back (GB) is a ranking system showing how likely teams are to qualify for the next season's playoffs.

Leagues like the NBAA calculate games back or games behind (GB) based on the number of matches each team has won and lost. To get the GB point of your favorite team, subtract the team's match points from the topper's points. 

Leagues developed the GB system to determine which teams have secured a spot in the playoffs for the next season and those that stand a chance - as the current regular season draws to a close. You'll commonly see the GB column in basketball leagues tables.

Why Was GB Developed?

Now, we've answered the common question many basketball fans ask from time to time - “what does GB mean in basketball?” In addition, we will look at why professional leagues developed GB and what made it relevant in modern basketball.

As basketball teams play more and more matches, the current basketball season slowly comes to a close. At this stage, basketball fans and analysts check the league tables, and this way, they look for a possibility of their fav teams having a chance in the next year's playoffs.

Therefore, the NBA and NCAA college basketball leagues developed GB to help teams and fans alike with this analysis.

GB gives you an idea of how many games your favorite team needs to topple the current table leader. Think of GB as meaning how many games your choice team needs to win so they'll be level with the first-place team.

What Is GB Used for in Basketball?

When checking the GB standings near the end of the league season, GB shows the following at a glance:

  • Which teams have secured a spot for the next season's playoffs

  • The basketball teams that have little or no chances of making the playoffs in the new season

  • Which teams need a few game points to qualify for the playoffs

The most exciting thing about GB is that it shows the teams still in a battle for the top 8 slots. These teams usually have less than 15 GB points difference between them.

Why Is GB Important?

Let's look at why GB is essential. What's it about the games behind stats that makes it very important? And, why do people look out for it?

Your favorite team doesn't have to finish first to win the season's title. As a result, the champions for a basketball season are not necessarily the team on top of the table. 

Then, why is GB necessary? The GB metric is essential for a team to have a guaranteed spot in the next season's playoffs. 

gb in basketball

For example, say your favorite team has a GB of 15 points. Plus, the team above them has a GB of 12 points. This point means your fav team is 15 matches away from finishing first. GB shows the difference in the number of games won by your favorite team - relative to the top team.

Here's where it gets even more exciting; while the top team is 15 points away, the team directly above is 12 points away. The GB between your favorite team and the one above is only three matches. Therefore, your team has a high chance of toppling them to secure a spot in the playoffs.

How to Calculate GB

Calculating GB is not as hard as it sounds; therefore, everyone can do it. You can find it in the GB column for the NBA and NCAA college basketball. However, the downside to the figures in the GB column for professional leagues is that they calculate them relative to the top team.

What does this mean? If your favorite team isn't at the top, checking its GB against another team may be difficult. Also, if you're looking at a different team, you'll find it difficult to calculate their GB or understand the table.

At this point, it is essential to state that GB can also include decimals. You might wonder, what the hell? Is there a game they played halfway? Or are some matches given a half-point over others?

Relax! Because of how the NBA and College basketball leagues calculate GB, it has half points sometimes.

See how far your favorite team is from the top of the league table following these steps:

  • Take the number of matches won by the top team (Team A). Next, subtract the number of games lost from the games they won.

  • Then, take the number of matches won by your team and subtract the number of games they lost from those they won.

  • Next, subtract the difference between matches won and lost for your team from Team A.

  • Divide the result by 2. The result is how many wins your fav team needs to get the top. Also, this is how far your team is from the top - in terms of games.

Calculation of GB Example

Let's calculate the GB of a random team using real numbers.

So say Team A is leading the table and has won 46 matches and lost 15 games. Then, your favorite team - Team B - is in 5th place on the table. Also, they played the same number of games, winning 39 and losing 22 games.

The difference between matches won and lost for both teams are 31 and 17, respectively. Next, get the difference between team A and B by removing 17 points from 31, and you get 14 points.

Finally, divide 14 matches by 2.

Therefore, the GB of your fav team (team B) is seven matches.

What does all this math mean? Team B is seven matches away from topping the table at that moment.

Wrapping Up: Games Behind

This article answered the common question, “what does GB mean in basketball?”, in simplest terms.

Thus, you see GB determines the teams that make it to the playoffs. This stat motivates teams with little GB difference to work harder and secure a spot next season.

Therefore, games behind stats help teams plan their moves for the rest of the current season. 

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast