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Feature Watch: Head-to-Head Game Finder

Posted by Neil Paine on August 20, 2009

Okay folks, it's time for a new series (much like that which I'm doing at Baseball-Reference and Pro-Football-Reference) where I take you on a guided tour of one of the lesser-known features on the site. Today's topic will be the Head to Head Game Finder, which is a really awesome tool that is unfortunately tucked away (out of necessity) on the Full Court page. I feel like people would obviously use it a lot more if they knew about it, so let's take you through it for the next few minutes...

Essentially it uses our game log data from 1986-87 through 2008-09 to find instances where particular player matchups occurred. No, you can't use it to find those great Russell-vs.-Chamberlain showdowns, but there have been some recent player "rivalries" that make for interesting queries. Take, for instance, David Robinson vs. Hakeem Olajuwon:

Player W L GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
David Robinson Per Game 30 12 42 37.7 7.0 14.3 0.488 0.1 0.1 0.600 5.5 7.7 0.717 3.3 7.9 11.2 2.9 2.2 3.3 3.0 3.4 19.6
Hakeem Olajuwon Per Game 12 30 41 37.7 8.8 20.0 0.441 0.0 0.1 0.167 4.2 5.4 0.768 3.4 7.8 11.2 2.8 1.9 3.4 2.9 4.0 21.9

Now, keep in mind that the H2H feature does not include playoff games -- but it's still pretty cool, right? How about some other notable rivalries of the era:
MJ vs. The Glide

Player W L GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Michael Jordan Per Game 9 6 15 41.3 13.0 27.1 0.479 0.9 2.9 0.295 8.3 9.7 0.856 1.7 5.1 6.8 6.0 2.7 0.8 3.6 2.9 35.2
Clyde Drexler Per Game 6 9 15 39.1 9.6 19.7 0.488 1.1 3.3 0.327 3.6 4.8 0.750 2.3 4.3 6.7 5.9 2.3 0.6 2.5 3.9 23.9

Shaq vs. Kobe

Player W L GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Shaquille O'Neal Per Game 4 4 8 31.8 8.3 14.5 0.569 0.0 0.0 3.5 7.8 0.452 4.3 6.0 10.3 2.0 0.1 1.5 3.1 4.0 20.0
Kobe Bryant Per Game 4 4 8 40.6 12.1 25.8 0.471 1.9 6.3 0.300 8.6 10.1 0.852 1.8 4.4 6.1 4.4 1.5 0.9 3.1 3.1 34.8

Kobe vs. LeBron

Player W L GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
LeBron James Per Game 6 5 11 41.5 9.5 22.7 0.416 0.9 3.5 0.263 7.0 10.1 0.694 1.8 5.8 7.6 6.7 1.5 0.5 4.0 2.5 26.8
Kobe Bryant Per Game 5 6 11 35.4 8.3 19.5 0.425 0.6 3.4 0.189 7.0 8.1 0.865 0.6 4.5 5.1 4.9 1.3 0.3 3.2 2.5 24.2

You get the idea... The possibilities are endless. So give it a whirl and see what you think. This certainly isn't the final word on whether Player A is "better than" Player B (mainly because these are ridiculously small samples), but it can definitely inform the debate.

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4 Responses to “Feature Watch: Head-to-Head Game Finder”

  1. Jason J Says:

    what i like about this feature is that it shows the players' numbers for each game's box score, so you can look for trends. You can see the effect of aging on the head to head match-ups. would be nice if it did include playoffs. cough cough.

  2. Jay Oh Says:

    I can't remember how I originally came about this feature on your site, but it is amazing. It's fun to pick 2 players who'r similar but weren't stars and see how they did against each other. Check out gheorge muresan vs. shawn bradley, for example:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=muresgh01&p2=bradlsh01

    Nearly identical ppg and rpg, yet bradley blocked more shots. How about muggsy bogues vs. spud webb:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=boguemu01&p2=webbsp01

    I tend to forget how good of an assist man bogues was.

  3. Mike G Says:

    Didn't some player once say that watching Muresan and Bradley go at it was like watching an old Japanese monster flick?

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