Utah Jazz

Is John Stockton still one of the most underappreciated players in NBA history? The answer is yes

It's hard whether to say John Stockton is overrated or underrated. When the conversation of some of the most underappreciated players in league history comes up, Stockton's name is usually mentioned.

His placement on ESPN's most recent top 74 players in NBA history list feels about right when you look at who's immediately in front of him and behind him.

But when you see where Karl Malone is placed on the list - 11 spots ahead of him - you have to wonder if maybe he was under-ranked.

You can't tell the story of John Stockton without mentioning Karl Malone, but the same can be said the other way. What would Malone be had he not had one of the best point guards in NBA history to feed him the rock?

Malone has scored the second-most points in league history, won two MVPs and got to three Finals - two of them with the Jazz - alongside Stockton. You can argue maybe none of those things would be possible without the diminutive point guard by his side.

MORE: Did Michael Jordan or LeBron James face tougher competition in the playoffs?

The list of point guards better than Stockton in league history is short. Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Stephen Curry - that's it. Jerry West is considered by most to have been a shooting guard and Chris Paul's story is still being written. So Stockton stands behind three men who have the only two things he doesn't have on his resume: a league MVP and a championship.

What Stockton does have is everything else you'd want in an NBA career. 19 years with one team, only Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki can boast more seasons with one franchise.

The NBA's all-time leader in assists dishing out a total of 15,806, more than 3,000 more than Jason Kidd who's in second place and more than 6,000 more than the active leader Chris Paul.

The league's all-time steals leader with 3,265, again 581 more than Kidd who's in second place and more than 1000 more than Paul who's the active leader.

The chance of those records being broken any time soon is slim.

Multiple all-star appearances and more importantly all-NBA nods. Don't forget the countless all-defensive teams.

He was the definition of reliable only missing 22 games in his 19-year career. No, Stockton didn't believe in load management. In fact, when he suffered a fracture of his right fibula in a game against Canada leading up to the 1992 Olympic Games, he basically shook it off and made the trip to Barcelona to be apart of the historic Dream Team.

His advanced stats would make many stats geeks proud. 15 times he led the NBA in assist percentage. Three times he was the league leader in true shooting and he regularly posted an efficiency rating of at least 20.0.

He's currently eighth all-time in box plus-minus, top ten in win shares and third all-time in value over replacement.

And if the numbers aren't enough, listen to how his peers talking about him. Gary Payton, widely regarded as one of the best point guards of the '90s sat on national television and said that Stockton was a tougher cover than Michael Jordan.

In episodes nine and ten of the Last Dance, we'll see Stockton and the Jazz fall victim to Jordan and the Bulls.

What we won't see is that MJ and the Bulls weren't just beating any old team, they were effectively setting up a roadblock in the careers of two of the greatest players to ever step on the floor in Stockton and Malone.

Malone certainly gets his due, but make sure to remember that Stockton was a heck of a player in his own right.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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