NBA All-Time Leader in Points Accounted For: John Stockton?

February 10th, 2016 | by David J Smith
No one accounted for more points in NBA history than Jazz legend John Stockton. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

No one accounted for more points in NBA history than Jazz legend John Stockton. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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:

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:

  • All-time leader in both assists and steals.
  • Led the NBA in APG nine straight seasons, including seven campaigns with 1,000 or more assists.
  • Voted All-NBA 11 seasons, an All-Star 10 years and All-Defense five times. Two-time Olympian.
  • Two trips to the NBA Finals. Never missed a single postseason in 19 attempts.
  • The most games with one franchise. Played every game in 17 of his 19 seasons.

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
John Stockton 19,711 15,806 51,323
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387 5,660 49,707
Karl Malone 36,928 5,248 47,424
Kobe Bryant 33,226 6,985 47,196
Oscar Robertson 26,710 9,887 46,484
Michael Jordan 32292 5,633 43,558
Jason Kidd 17,529 12,091 41,711
Wilt Chamberlain 31,419 4,643 40,705
Gary Payton 21,813 8,966 39,745
LeBron James 26,159 6,623 39,405

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.

John Havlicek 26,395 6,114 38,623
Steve Nash 17,387 10,335 38,057
Magic Johnson 17,707 10,141 37,989
Jerry West 25,192 6,238 37,668
Kevin Garnett 26,071 5,445 36,961
Isiah Thomas 18,822 9,061 36,944
Dirk Nowitzki 28,979 3,363 35,705
Allen Iverson 24,368 5,624 35,616
Paul Pierce 26,166 4,676 35,518
Shaquille O’Neal 28,596 3,026 34,648
David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife have five amazing children--four girls and a boy named Stockton (yes, really).
David J Smith
David J Smith

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6 Comments

  1. IDJazzman says:

    Asking Magic if Isiah was better than John Stockton would be the equivalent of asking Karl Malone if Stockton is greater than Isiah. Why? Magic and Isiah are very close friends. Might be some bias in Magic’s answer, Ya think? So in this case, Magic’s opinion on Isiah is not valid.

  2. LKA says:

    Always will be a arguement on who is the best. You really cant pick one. For instance the centers Bill Russell, Jabbar, Wilt the Stilt, Akeem, Shaq, just to name some. Looks like it is one mans opinion. Guess thats why they are all in the Hal of Fame. What I can’t see is why Sloan never won Coach of The Year??

  3. Simaahdi says:

    Great post. I’ve never seen these numbers crunched like this, and it’s fascinating to see how the NBA’s all-time greats stack up. I agree about Stockton being a bit under-appreciated by NBA pundits and fans in general.

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