If you take a look at the list of the most underappreciated NBA players of all time, there is an extremely good chance that John Stockton is at the top of the list. While Magic Johnson is far and away the best NBA point guard of all time, John Stockton is likely number two on this list but simply doesn’t get as much respect as he deserves. What he may have lacked in flashiness and championship wins, he made up for in a quiet dependability that led to a long and illustrious career. Here I will give him his due and take a look at his career.
Despite his college career being fairly low key at Gonzaga, Stockton was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 16th overall pick at the 1984 NBA Draft. In fact, he was such an unknown (at least to most fans), that the Jazz draft party was in complete silence, stunned after the announcement. But boy, those people would soon know the name and be extremely grateful that he came to Utah.
His first three seasons began fairly pedestrian as he only averaged around 20 minutes a game or so, but even in that little bit of playing time, he was already showing signs of being a brilliant passer and a great on ball defender as his steal numbers were also very high for his minutes played. However, in his fourth season as an NBA player (and his first as a starter) Stockton finally showed how special of a player he was.
In that 1987-88 NBA season, Stockton averaged 13.8 assists per game and shot over 57% from the field. He was the NBA assist leader in that season, something he would do time and time again during his career. His biggest knock among critics is the fact he never won an NBA title, but when you look at his accolades, stats, longevity and more, you cannot deny he is easily one of the top point guards in NBA history.
By the end of his 19 year NBA career (all with the Utah Jazz), Stockton was a 10 time NBA all-star, appeared on 11 All NBA Teams and led the league in assists on 9 separate occasions, including every year from 1988 to 1996. On top of those impressive accolades, his career totals for assists and steals are absolutely legendary. He is the all time leader in assists and steals, both by an incredibly large margin, and both records will never be broken.
In terms of assists, Stockton has amassed 15,806 throughout his career, which is more than 3,000 ahead of second place and no current NBA player is within even 7,000. And in terms of steals, Stockton had 3265 in his career, more than 500 ahead of second place. In addition to these record breaking stats, Stockton was extremely durable throughout his career, only missing 23 games throughout his career.
While yes, having no championship may hurt his legacy a little compared to guy’s like Magic Johnson, but John Stockton still deserves some credit for being a great point guard in every sense of the word.