4 NBA Point Guards That Could Top John Stockton's Assist Record
Is there such a thing as an unbreakable record anymore?
It seems nearly all of the milestones that we thought were untouchable have been surpassed or soon will be. Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak was once thought to be the most untouchable record until Cal Ripken bested it. Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record was exceeded, albeit allegedly by illegal means, by Barry Bonds.
With the prevalence of singular scoring and rapidly improving medical technology, it seems to be just a matter of time before Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring record is surpassed.
John Stockton’s record for all-time assists is not one that usually gets a lot of mention, but it’s arguably as “unbreakable” as DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. Stockton’s record sits at 15,806 assists, which is about 4,000 above second-place assist man Jason Kidd. That Stockton is more than 33 percent ahead of the next closest competitor is astounding.
Chances of breaking the record: 15 percent
Paul is No. 1 on this list because of his demonstrated ability to shoulder a heavy offensive load while still putting up impressive assist numbers. Paul’s career assist average is also at the top of the list at 9.8, respectably close to Stockton’s career average of 10.5.
Even with Paul’s tremendous talent, any shot of Paul breaking Stockton’s record will require a combination of a vastly improved ability to stay healthy and the acquisition of one or more significant scoring options. This would free up Paul to focus on using his dazzling distribution ability and piling up the assists.
Chance of breaking the record: 10 percent
Rondo would be No. 1 on this list if he were on a different team.
Rondo’s main argument for being the one to top Stockton’s mark is his penchant for dropping 20-plus assist games on any given night. Having consistently huge assist numbers is requisite of having any chance of coming close to the assist record (Stockton’s highest average for a season was an eye-popping 14.5 in 1989-90).
The roadblock Rondo faces is the rapid aging of the core scorers on the Celtics, combined with the lackluster ability the Celtics have shown in recent years to land any marquee free agents.
If Rondo’s supporting cast takes that big a hit, he may be forced to become more of a scorer, which could cause his assist numbers to drop precipitously.
Chances of breaking the record: 5 percent
Rubio’s chances of one day being the NBA’s top assist man took a huge hit this year when he was knocked out for the season with a knee injury.
In general, unbelievably good health and unusually slow skill deterioration will be needed by anyone hoping to top Stockton’s mark. Due to his torn ACL, Rubio will end up missing 25 games this season. In his 19-year career, Stockton missed 54 games total and played in all 82 games 16 out of 19 seasons.
Despite the long odds stacked against him, Rubio deserves a mention on this list because of his unparalleled court vision, dazzling array of passing skills and unselfish style of play.
Rubio’s longevity will most likely prevent him from ever sniffing Stockton’s record, but I could see him breaking Scott Skiles’s record for assists in a game (30).
Chances of breaking the record: 3 percent.
Williams is the wild card of the group due to the fact that his future is so uncertain.
If Williams continues to languish with a subpar New Jersey team, it’s unlikely that he will focus on his assist numbers, whether it be due to having to shoulder too much of the scoring load, apathy or both.
Conversely, if Williams and another fairly big-name free agent land on a talented team like Dallas, Williams could see his assist opportunities skyrocket.
Williams has shown the ability to average double-digit assists for an entire season before, and a contending team could rejuvenate Williams’s career in addition to his assist numbers.