When John Stockton threaded the needle with one last perfect pass, slipped past his last annoying reporter, and punched his last NBA time-clock, he stepped off the hardwood and into near-deity status among Jazz Nation. He became Saint John the Distributor; Patron Saint of assists and steals, distributing good will and easy buckets whenever he pleased. With the face of a choirboy, he delivered bone-jarring picks and could swipe your Timex like nobody’s business. He was The Pasty Gangsta’ as Jim Rome liked to call him. He was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, stuffed into a pair of short shorts.
Fans will forever speak in hushed and revered tones when discussing the NBA’s all-time assist and steals leader. For 19 seasons, Stockton was a 5-star floor general, artfully guiding the Jazz into 19 consecutive post-seasons. His stats and reputation were bundled up and FedEx’d to Springfield, Mass to forever sit on the top shelf in the Hall of Fame. There could never be another John Stockton.
However, what if Larry Miller has stumbled across some alternate universe and discovered some sort of new cloning process? I am not sure how, maybe with some combination involving stem cells, cold fusion and pixie dust, but he has done the impossible. He has built Stockton 2.0. This version is bigger and quicker, with baggy shorts and a chip on his shoulder the size of Chris Paul. Without the benefit of a De Lorean flux capacitor we can only giddily speculate how good Deron Williams is going to be.
So how does his great sophomore season stack up to other great point-guards?
Deron Williams: 16.2 points and 9.3 assists. 19.2 points and 8.6 assists in the playoffs.
Jason Kidd: Only one time in 13 seasons has he averaged over 16.9 points and he has had two seasons where he averaged more than 10 assists per game.
Steve Nash: It took the 2-time MVP 9 years before he averaged over 9 assists per game and 6 years before he averaged over 16 points a game.
Isaiah Thomas: D-Will’s 9.3 assists is as good or better than 8 of Isiah’s 13 seasons with the Bad Boys of Detroit.
Magic Johnson: Magic, the triple-double king, was magic and won a title his rookie year, but Deron had more assists in his second season and without the benefit of a Showtime cast.
Chris Paul and Tony Parker: Paul has similar stats and Parker has Duncan but D-Will has better stats.
Gary Payton, Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier: Deron’s assists were higher than any of them ever had in one season.
John Stockton: His second year totals, while sharing point duties with Ricky Green, were 7.7 points and 7.4 assists. His personal best seasons were his sixth and seventh, when he averaged over 14 assists and 17.2 points and he is the all-time steals leader.
There are plenty of other stats where we can compare him but either way, the Utah Jazz should be very grateful that lightening can strike twice. With the exception of Magic and Parker, none of these great players took their team as far into the play-offs during their sophomore season like Williams did last year. “He has all the tools to be one of the top point guards,” Jason Kidd said recently of Williams, “if not the top point guard, when it’s all said and done.” Okay so he is not going to be the next John Stockton, but that is irrelevant, because he is already Deron Williams.