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A case for John Stockton’s greatness


I hear criticism about Stockton sometimes, and people questioning his place amongst the best point guards in NBA history, I’ve done some research in Basketball-Reference to try to get an idea of how good he used to be. Here are some of the things I’ve found:

  • Let’s start by his most known one: He is (by far) the all-time leader in assists with 15,806. The second in the all-time list is Jason Kidd, who dished 12,091 assists, that’s 3715 fewer assists. For comparison, Derek Fisher (18 years in the NBA) dished a total of 3804 assists in his whole career.
  • Many people argue that his assist totals are this high just because he played so many seasons. But he is actually 2nd in career assists per game (Magic Johnson) in NBA history, despite playing limited minutes during his first 3 seasons.
  • Also, he not only is the single-season leader for assists, but also the second, third, and fourth. He is seven times in this top 10.
  • He has the 2nd best Assist to Turnover ratio amongst the top 10 assist leaders of all time (3.72), just behind Chris Paul’s insane 4.07 ratio. For comparison: Jason Kidd’s 3.02, Nash’s 2.97, Magic’s 2.89, Isiah’s 2.46. Note: I couldn’t calculate Oscar Robertson’s because turnovers weren’t recorded when he played. I also can’t put a link for this because I had to calculate it myself, this stat is not on Basketball-Reference.
  • He is also (and again, by far) the all-time leader in steals with 3265, Jason Kidd is again second in this list, 581 steals behind.
  • A lot of the criticism towards him comes because of his “lack of scoring”. While it is true that his PTS/G were just 13.1 through his career, he is one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history. He is 11th in TS%, almost tied with Kevin Durant for 10th.
  • Still, his 13.1 PTS/G through a 19-year career puts him 44th in the all-time scoring list, just behind Pau Gasol and Joe Johnson, and still over Durant, Tony Parker, Jamal Crawford or Scottie Pippen.
  • If you were wondering if this helped his team win, he is 5th all-time in win shares, between Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan.
  • He is also 19th in Defensive Win Shares, but 2nd amongst point guards (Jason Kidd).
  • He is 3rd in career VORP amongst point guards, behind Magic and CP3 (19th overall).
  • With a 21.83 PER he is “just” 35th in the all-time list, but he is way higher than Isiah Thomas(137th), Gary Payton (107th), Jason Kidd (145th) or Steve Nash (73rd), who are some of the players usually compared to him.
  • Finally, he did all of this with a Usage Percentage so low he’s not in the top 250 (unlike Magic, Isiah, Payton, Chris Paul or Steve Nash).

I know basketball is a lot more than stats, but usually, when so many stats say you're great, you are great.

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Credit: MambaOut8

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