Posted by Neil Paine on September 15, 2009
Recently, you may have noticed that we updated the "Leaders" page here at Basketball-Reference, adding a "Progressive" column to both the regular-season and playoff leaderboard menus. It was a feature we had intended to add for a long time, and one we now share with our sister site Baseball-Reference. In fact, it's proven to be a popular page over at B-R, so today I'm going to let you know what the progressive leaderboards can do for you here as well.
Basically, a progressive leaderboard page tracks the progression of the record in a specific category. Take, for instance, points scored... At that page, there are four items per year, arranged by column. On the far left, you have the yearly leaders, which is more for convenience's sake than anything else (the same data can be found on the yearly leaderboard page, but it's nice to have that info on the same page as the progressive leaderboards). To the right of the yearly column, you'll see columns marked "active" and "career". This is where you can see the progression of the all-time record through the years: for each year, these columns tell you what the all-time record was in the category through the end of the season, in addition to showing who had the best career total/average among players who were active during the season in question. So, using our points example, in 1972-73 Wilt Chamberlain was both the active leader and the all-time leader; however, Wilt retired before 1973-74, and for that season you can see that Oscar Robertson became the new active scoring leader, while Wilt continued to hold the all-time career record. Finally, on the far right side of the table, we list the single-season record in the category through the end of the season in question (Chamberlain's points record of 4,029, of course, has stood since 1962 and is unlikely to ever be broken).
So that's a quick a rundown of the information you can find on our progressive leaderboard pages. I think they're pretty cool to look at when you want to learn about the history of the league, and you're almost guaranteed to find out something that you didn't know before... Like the fact that George Yardley briefly held the all-time record for most points in a season after scoring 2,001 in 1957-58. Props to you, George!