Steve Nash is on the verge of passing Magic Johnson for fourth all-time on the NBA’s career assist leaderboard. Too bad he will never be number one. That title belongs to Utah Jazz legend, John Stockton.
Chris Palmer, an ESPN NBA Insider recently tweeted about Stockton’s assist record calling it, “the most unbreakable record in sports.” During his illustrious career Stockton tallied 15,806 assists. Jason Kidd is second, 3,816 behind Stockton. Here is a look at the top 25 all-time; there are only three active players on the list for now.
Stockton had ten seasons where he averaged at least 10 APG, and in eight of those seasons he averaged more than 12. No active NBA player has ever averaged 12 APG in a season.
Stockton’s Top 5 assist years: 14.5, 14.2, 13.7, 13.7, 13.6. No active player has ever averaged 12 apg.
— chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) January 31, 2013
So is the record really unbreakable? Here is a look at the three active players on the list and what they would need to do in order to pass up Stockton.
Kidd is currently in his 18th season in the league. Stockton ran the point for 19 seasons. Kidd has been a great all-around point guard and was even able to get something that Stockton wasn’t, a championship. His best season assist wise was in 1998-99 for the Suns when he averaged 10.8 APG. But as is with any player his stats have declined, as he has gotten older. This season with the Knicks his assists average has dipped to 3.8 per game, the lowest of his career.
Over Kidd’s last five seasons he has averaged 7 APG, pretty good for an old man. If Kidd were to keep up this pace he would need to play another 6 and a half seasons at 82 games per season in order to break Stockton’s record and at age 39 that is not going to happen. It’s safe to say that Kidd won’t be moving up from number two anytime soon.
Steve Nash is in his 16th season. Nash is a wizard with the ball and was a revolutionary point guard in his prime who has turned sub-par big men into stars with the way he weaves around off of the pick and roll. His best season came in Phoenix when he averaged 11.6 APG during the 2006-07 season. Nash currently trails Stockton by 5,714 assists.
In his last five seasons Nash has averaged 10.1 APG. Nash would need to play nearly seven more full seasons before he would own the record. Nash is 38 and is having his lowest APG total in ten years. With the Lakers struggling this season look for Kobe to start controlling the ball even more than he already does, taking away opportunities for Nash to dish. He will never make it to the top of the list but with a couple more solid seasons Steve Nash has a real chance to climb to number two.
Talk about coming out of the blue. The University of Utah product currently ranks 10th all-time in career assists. Miller is the model of consistency; in his 13th year he has only had one season where he averaged double-digit assists, which came in Cleveland when he dished 10.9 per game in 2001-02. But he’s always been in the six to eight assists range. Miller currently stands at 7,744 assists, trailing Stockton by a whopping 8,062.
Miller has averaged a respectable 6.3 APG over his last five years. In order for him to break Stockton’s record at that pace he would need to play 30 more seasons. Unless Andre discovers the fountain of youth or finds a way to freeze the space-time continuum, that is never going to happen.
After comparing these three guys to Stockton I would say Chris Palmer was dead on, it is the most unbreakable record. None of them have a chance. There are some nice young guards in the NBA now who in 15 years could possibly make a run at it.
Rajon Rondo has the best chance as he has averaged over 11 APG each of the last three seasons, but he is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL. Chris Paul is another candidate to be considered. Paul is renowned as the best point guard in the game and gets assists with regularity. His best assists year was 07-08 when he averaged 11.8, but hasn’t totaled more than 10/game in the past three years. Paul is still 10,314 assists away from Stockton’s record and would need to average 11 assists per game for ten more seasons to get to Stockton. Not going to happen.
Kyrie Irving and John Wall are both electric, young guards who will never amount the assist totals that Stockton had because their teams need them to score first. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are both dynamic players that do a good job of dishing the rock but are also relied upon to score in order for their teams to win.
The amazing thing about Stockton is that not only did he pass the ball like nobody else; he stole it better than everyone too. In what might be the second-most “unbreakable record” Stockton amassed 3,265 steals over his career.
Only four active players were able to crack the top 25 in the steals list, with Jason Kidd coming in second again trailing Stockton by 635 steals.
Stockton had three seasons where he averaged at least three steals per game, the four active players on this list combined for zero seasons like that. Kidd, Bryant, Garnett and World Peace are all on the back end of their careers making it more and more likely that Stockton’s steals record will also never fall.
After starring for his hometown Gonzaga Bulldogs the Jazz selected him with the 16th pick in the 1984 draft. Stockton played in 1,504 of a possible 1,526 games for the Jazz (98.5%) making him one of the most durable players ever.
It is pretty incredible this kid from tiny Spokane, Washington was able to become a ten-time all-star, Olympic Gold medalist and hold two of the most important records related to the point guard position. Stockton is the definition of a player who worked to get the most out of what he was dealt. He is arguably the greatest point guard to ever live despite lacking the athleticism that many elite point guards had.
For 19 years Jazz fans got to watch Stockton as he piled up the wins, assists and steals. Stockton’s records really are “unbreakable” and we will never see a point guard affect the game the way he did.