Sports Reference Blog

Introducing Play Index+

Posted by Justin Kubatko on February 15, 2012

It is with great pleasure that I announce the debut of's latest and greatest set of research tools: Play Index+. Play Index+ utilizes over ten years of play-by-play data, allowing the user to sift through and summarize millions of plays with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Before I go any further, let me note that at this time we are not able to update the current season play-by-play data on a daily basis. However, we will be updating the play-by-play database at least once per week, and the date of the last update can always be found near the top of each PI+ page. While this may be an inconvenience to some, the positives of providing access to over ten years of historical play-by-play data far outweigh the negatives of providing weekly (rather than daily) updates.

There are obviously an unlimited number of things we can do with the data — and we plan on adding even more features in the future — but for the time being the four main tools are:

In the coming days we will take a closer look at the four tools listed above, but for now take a look around and let us know what you think.

37 Responses to “Introducing Play Index+”

  1. Tom Haberstroh Says:

    Thank you.

  2. Justin Kubatko Says:

    You're welcome. :-)

  3. JamesC Says:

    Wow. Amazing.

    Any idea when we can see a similar data tool for college basketball?

  4. Justin Kubatko Says:

    @JamesC: Can we just enjoy this for a little bit, please? :-)

  5. wiLQ Says:

    Thanks! That's another great goldmine!
    Although you could have done it earlier because now some of mine's recent blog posts and tools are useless ;-)

  6. David Locke Says:

    Thanks for all you do -- amazing

  7. MikeN Says:

    Awesome. Looks like I still don't have an easy way to find out the stat of highest player FGA/team FGA in a game. It appears Kobe is the only person to break 50%.

  8. Sam Millner Says:

    Literally the most interesting statistical analysis tool I've seen!

    I don't suppose there is any chance of adding a player's measurements etc to the search form? I think there would be some interesting stuff like who's the tallest player who has played 500 mins per season to have never dunked, for example.

    Still amazing job guys, you continue to impress!

  9. JamesC Says:

    LOL @ Justin

    Alright, alright...I'll hold off on my demands for a week or so. :)

  10. DavidStern Says:

    wow, I'm speechless. Than you very much!

  11. Tyler Says:

    Wow, man; continues to evolve and develop as one of the best sources for basketball statistical information out there.

  12. pm Says:

    Is there a way to search these lineups for just 1 season?

    What about individual player plus/minus or pairs plus/minus? If you do that, that would be big.

  13. Jerry Says:

    Any chance you put the entire PBP for each game online? I got most of that myself, but nothing before 2002

  14. Justin Kubatko Says:

    @Sam Millner: Maybe, but that would be low on my priority list.

    @Pm: To search lineups for just one season, just select the same value for the first and last seasons. Also, more is on the way, this is just the start.

    @Jerry: Eventually.

  15. Kevin Says:

    You guys are awesome, this is so freaking sweet

  16. NS Says:

    Is it possible to find 4-point plays with one of these tools?

  17. Ignarus Says:

    Would it KILL you guys to publish wingspan and not just how tall a guy is when we don't even know if it's in shoes or not?

    (kidding, this is quite nifty)

  18. Jay Says:

    This is just incredible. Honestly don't know how I lived without bball ref before it existed. Awesome work!

  19. pm Says:

    #14: It won't let me select the same season twice. If I click on one season, then the other one changes to a 4 year span. Then when I change that one, the first one changes.

  20. Justin Kubatko Says:

    @Pm: Sorry about that. For now, select the first season, then click the red "to" and the second season will be set equal to the first.

  21. pm Says:

    Thanks Justin. Do you have a timetable on their being searches for lineups with certain player(s)?

  22. DavidStern Says:

    How could I find charges drawn/offensive Fs committed?

  23. mystic Says:

    Thanks Justin. That is freaking awesome. You may want to add the "combined season" thing for the shot finder too.

    And I would really like to get my hands on the pbp data for 2000/01, 2001/02. ;)

    Anyway, great stuff as usual.

  24. Wednesday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball | The Magic Site Says:

    [...] Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference: “It is with great pleasure that I announce the debut of’s latest and greatest set of research tools: Play Index+. Play Index+ utilizes over ten years of play-by-play data, allowing the user to sift through and summarize millions of plays with just a few clicks of the mouse.” [...]

  25. Milo Says:

    Does the play-by-play data you're using have shot-distance for every shot? If so, where do you get it?

    And thank you. This is amazing.

  26. Jerry Says:

    Is there more where that come from? I mean, is there also PBP for the 1990s that might be published at some point?

  27. Daniel Says:

    I have a question. You certainly now have a lot of data, are you going to turn that data into actual information. Will you be adding plus/minus stats or stats like team Reb% when that player is on the court? The data is there to turn it into something real impressive.

  28. Justin Kubatko Says:

    @Pm: No timetable for adding that yet.

    @DavidStern: You can't do that at this point.

    @Mystic: Sorry, we're not giving away the farm.

    @Milo: Yes, we have distances for every shot.

    @Jerry: Every year we have is up there.

    @Daniel: Sorry we haven't provided you with any "actual information" yet.

  29. daniel Says:

    I didn't mean to insult you Justin. I'm just saying that you are sitting on a treasure trove information even bigger than anything you've ever added on your site. With a few things done with this data, we could possibly be looking at players of the last decade in a completely different light.

  30. Assists in 2012: Point Gods, Guards, and Quetzalcoatls | The Gothic Ginobili Says:

    [...] earlier today, the fantastic folks at Basketball Reference released to the public a marvelous database. It includes a highly interfaced and searchable play-by-play database for the [...]

  31. MettaWW3 Says:

    Is there a way to isolate player league rank stats while including a minimum games played or minutes played? For example, league DRtg for players who average more than 20 minutes per game.

  32. huevonkiller Says:

    Much appreciated.

  33. Mary Says:

    Justin, Is there any plans to use this info to allow people to make searches like LeBron's numbers when Kobe is on the court, or LeBron's numbers with DWade on the court? There is so much you could do with this information.

  34. Dave D Says:

    How can we find the career and/or point totals based on shots types?

    (Something like Blake Griffin 1,000,000 points from dunks and 1 pint from a free throw)

  35. Justin Kubatko Says:

    @MettaWW3: I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you're asking.

    @Mary: Yes, there is a lot you can do. What you described is on the "to-do" list, but keep in mind that it is a very long list.

    @DaveD: Right now you can't.

  36. MettaWW3 Says:

    Is it possible to rank players according to one stat while using some other stat as a qualifier? Example: rank the top scorers this season but limit the list to only those players who have played 20 minutes per game. Or rank the top 3 point shooters by percentage while limiting the list to only those who rank in the top 50 in attempts.

  37. Justin Kubatko Says:

    @MettaWW3: Yes. For example, here are players averaging at least 20 minutes per game sorted by points per 36 minutes: