First off, happy birthday again to John Stockton. And secondly, man. If the Utah Jazz point God, and basketball Hall of Famer existed during the 24 hour media cycle with YouTube, Vine, Twitter, and Facebook people would just never stop talking about him. For his sake, a man who cherished his privacy, it's probably for the best that he played in a small market in an odd time zone far from all the lights, cameras, and non-Diet Pepsi ads.
Sorry, I had to share that again.
Yeah, most people known him from his records -- and you have to be pretty good to be the All-Time Assists and All-Time Steals leader. Some know him from being on the 1992 Dream Team but didn't know WHY he was there instead of Isiah Thomas. Most educate people know that he was one of the best ball players of the 1980s and 1990s and beyond -- who had to d-up everyone from Magic Johnson, Thomas, Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, and Allen Iverson. From the skinny guys in short shorts era all the way to the baggy trunks and overt hip-hop era. That's a long time, in years. That's an even longer time in professional athlete years. The only thing close to that are those stories you hear of old women who were born during the horse buggy era, and who diet after spaceflight was developed.
Stockton was a beast, even if he didn't look like it on the court. He thrives in obscurity, but there's one great equalizer. Maths. (Not MATH, it's not singular!) When you look at his numbers any single way you slice it you find greatness in John Stockton's epic resume. Here are but three:
1. John's 20 Greatest Games (Statistically)
These are subjective a bit, but I find that these are his best ever games. It's hard to pick and choose one over the other, and with a guy like Stock I'm letting some of his really awesome games go, because there had to be a cut off.
Personally, I like that game (#6) where he had 33 points off of 86 fg%, and 15 assists and zero turn overs. A lot of the popular point guards today know nothing of Stockton's efficiency. The thing we overlook the most could be the way he didn't hurt his team by doing dumb things out there on the court -- like turning the ball over or ever missing.
2. John's Massive Body of work
Sure, Stock only has one triple double over his career, but he does have 635 double doubles in the regular season and playoffs combined. He's also in a very rare club of people have had scored 26+ points in a game while also dishing out 26+ assists in a game at some point in the same career -- and done both multiple times.
|1 to 5||6 to 10||11 to 15||16 to 20||21 to 25||26 to 30||31 +|
He's had more games in his career where he had 16 to 20 assists when the game ended than he has had games of 1 to 5 assists. (207 is greater than 166) Think about that. Over his career it was more likely for him to finish with 16 or more, than it was for him to finish with 5 or fewer.
He wasn't scary with blocks, but his steals numbers are ridiculous. He's had more games where he steals the ball 1 to 5 times than most NBA players have steals period. I didn't explain that well enough, so let's try again. Latrell Sprewell was a great defender in his prime, and got a lot of steals. He's on the All-Time NBA Steals list. He has a grand total of 1294 steals over his regular season career. John has 1295 different games where he got anywhere from one to FIVE steals in a game. As an equation where Spree's career steals = x, we get . . . no forget it. I'm not even going to make an equation. Latrell is #67 All-Time. So John has more games of multiple steals than all of 65 NBA players have total steals.
John has no peer when it comes to assists and steals over his very long career. Many non-Utah fans think Chris Paul is awesome, and a legit threat to Stockton's place in the game. Well, Chris has 1622 career steals as of this writing. He's 29 years old, and has never made it out of the 2nd round before -- and he misses a billion games a year. For all of Paul's steals, if he DOUBLES that number he'll still be behind John Stockton.
For Paul's last three seasons combined he averages 2.28 SPG. At that rate, in order to pass Stockton he'd need to play 720.61 more games over his career, and not degrade his SPG average at all. For his career he has only played 689 total games. So yeah. Paul would have to play (conservatively, with how many games he actually plays in a season) another decade of basketball to do it. If you average his entire career (from being a healthy 20 year old till today) Paul plays in 68.9 games a season. So doing the math CP3 would need to play 10.46 more seasons in the NBA, while stealing the ball over that time period at a better per game rate than his current 2014-15 season stats, to pass John Stockton.
Stockton's lead in steals is so far ahead that the best steals point guard in a generation is less than halfway there. John's lead in assists is incomprehensible.
3. Advanced Stats love him
When I was looking at the Top 20 point guards of all time I couldn't help but notice that John's efficient game really stands out.
- PER: 21.8 (32nd best All-Time), ten seasons in the Top 10
- Offensive Rating: 120.5 (4th best All-Time), 12 seasons in the Top 10, 10 in the Top 5
- Defensive Rating: three seasons in the Top 10
- Offensive Win Shares: 142.8 (5th best All-Time), 11 seasons in the Top 10, seven in the Top 5
- Defensive Win Shares: 64.9 (20th best All-Time), four seasons in the Top 10, 1 season in the Top 5
- Win Shares: 207.7 (5th best All-Time), 11 seasons in the Top 10, eight seasons in the Top 5
- Offensive box +/-: 4.4 (13th best All-Time), 13 seasons in the Top 10, six seasons in the Top 5
- Box +/-: 3.5 (44th best All-Time), one season in the Top 10
- Value Over Replacement Player: 65.9 (18th best All-Time), two seasons in the Top 10
- AST%: 50.1% (1st All-Time), 18 seasons in the Top 2, 15 seasons as #1
- STL%: 3.5% (8th best All-Time), 14 seasons in the Top 10, 11 seasons in the Top 5
The Hall of Famer has the records, but was shut out for a lot of awards, only being a 10 time All-Star, an 11 Time All-NBA 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team member, a 5 time All-Defensive 1st or 2nd team member, and All-Star Game MVP back in 1993. Can you believe that he was only Player of the Week 6 times in his career? This is what happens when you share the bulk of your career with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and basically the rest of his Dream Teammates.
Everyone knows about the steals and assists. A lot of people don't know that he's #45 all-time in points as well, ahead of guys like Bernard King, Gail Goodrich, Scottie Pippen, Isiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Tracy McGrady, Glen Rice, Chris Mullin, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Kevin McHale, heck even more points than Magic Johnson too.
Ultimately, the deeper in the stats you go the more and more you find. Stockton was one of a kind, and if only the reporters of his era delved into the stats as deeply as bloggers do would they have examined his greatness and appreciated him as a current player more.
But that would have just led to more attention, something John wasn't interested in as a player. So perhaps he was the best Superstar for the level of technology of that era. Had he bloomed today people wouldn't stop talking about him. After all, he retired a very long time ago and people today are still talking about him. ESPN would have their own "Stockwatch" segment every night tracking how many assists he gets.
That would have been awesome. But for John, it probably would have been awful.
Cheers again to the best point guard of all time. Happy Birthday John! Your numbers are ridiculous.