Player Focus – John Stockton
A lot of people believe that the most difficult position to play in basketball is the point guard. You have to know where your teammates are at all times and at the same time you have to know the play that you are running. In addition to that, you are the head coach’s eyes on the court which means that he would need you to remember certain parts of the game. That sounds like a lot of work. However there are certain guys who have mastered the art of being a point guard that all of that seems effortless to them. One of these point guards is the great John Stockton. Let’s have a look at his game and how he has led the Utah Jazz to great heights for his whole career.
Perhaps the most popular thing about John Stockton is his almost perfect passing ability. He is the all-time leader is assists in the NBA and 2nd all-time in assists per game, second only to Magic Johnson. Of course it helps that you are playing for great coach in Jerry Sloan and playing with the likes of Karl Malone, making every pass to him a likely assist most of the time, but Stockton has the ability to find the open man every time. Whether in a slow play or in the open court, Stockton knows where to pass the ball for an easy basket.
John Stockton’s passing ability is due in great part to his superior court vision. Even though he is often the smallest guy on the court, he can see everywhere and knows where his teammates are at all times, even his opponents. This uncanny ability enables him to push the ball where the Jazz have a high chance of scoring or getting defensive stops. This is why he played for Jerry Sloan for so long, as he is the great coach’s eyes on the court.
In relation to his excellent passing and court vision, is his basketball IQ. This may have been because he was coached by Jerry Sloan, Stockton knows exactly what play to run given the circumstances. He knows when to push the tempo or deliberately slow down the game to give the Jazz the advantage. His mastery of Utah’s offense is evident by the countless winning records that Utah had during his career.
Despite his size, Stockton is known as one of the most physical players in the NBA. He will use anything to gain an advantage, sometimes bordering on dirty plays. Playing with Karl Malone, another physical player, they make a terrifying combo, especially when you become a victim of their painful screen and rolls. Steve Kerr, former Bull which faced the Jazz in 2 consecutive finals, is on record saying that John Stockton is a dirty player. This is quite contrary to his schoolboy looks, which makes his physical forays really surprising.
John Stockton may not have been the fastest or most athletic player when he was playing, but he played bigger than his height and always gave it his all on the court. His consistency throughout his career as well as his loyalty to the Jazz has cemented his legacy as arguably the best pure point guard the NBA has ever seen. Magic Johnson was a freak of nature at the point guard position so you could see why he dominated the game, but Stockton is a small guy and looks ordinary which is why him being one of the greatest of all time is truly an inspiring achievement.