As part of an interesting effort spanning the past month or so, a few media outlets have taken to ranking the NBA’s greats. Usually an activity reserved for the dreary doldrums of August and September in the basketball world, this effort has added to a very entertaining season — a side diversion of sorts. After all, who does not like a good list that elicits discussions, disagreements and arguments?
Anytime such rankings emerge, it is natural for Utah Jazz fans to see where John Stockton and Karl Malone fit in. Both Jazz legends were officially ranked among the league’s top 50 players of all-time when voted upon a few decades ago, so their legacy is absolutely secure. Even so, it is interesting to see what the NBA’s top analysts think.
ESPN.com, who does its annual #NBARank, also asked its expert panel to vote on the Association’s greatest players, taking into consideration both peak performance and career value. The Mailman was voted #16 overall and the second best power forward. Stockton came in #19 and the third best floor general. Few took exception to the former’s status, but some did with the latter — at least as it pertains to the point guard pantheon. One noteworthy contemporary had the following to say:
ESPN ranked the Top 10 PGs of all time & they have @iamisiahthomas ranked 5th. There’s no way Stockton & Curry are better than Isiah.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 13, 2016
When Magic speaks, many listen… even now. His main purpose was to point out Thomas’ greatness, and he did not demean Stockton in any way. That said, the exchange, lead to many others chiming in on how Hall of Fame players like Stockton, Thomas and others rate in the grand scheme of things. Everyone is certainly entitled to his or her opinions. Once again, as viewpoints were shared by media members and fans in general, it once again felt that John Stockton was being underrated. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton went as far as calling #12 the “most underappreciated great player in NBA history.”
We all know his list of accomplishments — achievements that would seem to show his prominence in the annals of basketball. Here are just a few:
That list could go on and on, with each accolade adding to his legacy. Even so, Stockton seems to be overlooked a bit. This could be for a number of reasons, from the small market nature of Salt Lake City to his unassuming, less-than-flashy approach to the game. Stockton, he of the smaller stature and the short shorts, was the epitome of a quiet superstar.
Well, here is one more accomplishment that might help shine a light on his greatness: no one has accounted for more points in NBA history.
Not Kareem-Abdul Jabbar. Not his partner-in-crime, Malone. Not even Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Wilt Chamberlain. No, the honor belongs to Mr. John Stockton.
How so? After all, no one scored more points than Abdul-Jabbar. And Stockton never scored more than 17.2 PPG in a given season. Well, if one simply figures that each assist leads to two points, simply adding that total to the player’s points scored would show how many points for which an individual was responsible.
It is a basic exercise, but still a fascinating one nonetheless. Here are the top 10 players:
|Name||Career Points||Career Assists||Points Accounted For|
These gaudy totals are pretty amazing. And at the top is John Stockton, with a pretty good cushion between him and Abdul-Jabbar. This might surprise many. While Stockton’s play-making is unrivaled, people tend to forget his great shooting skills. A 51.5 percent shooter, he consistently scored between 11 and 17 PPG for 16 straight seasons, even at age 40. His incredible durability only aided his cause. Assists on made 3-pointers are not factored in here, so thanks to players like Jeff Hornacek and Bryon Russell, Stockton’s total would be higher. LeBron James will have a chance to overtake Stockton when it is all said and done.
But for now, no one has had his hand on more points than John Stockton, the most “underappreciated great player” in NBA history.
Just for fun, here are the next ten.