David Stockton’s taste of the big leagues

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Judging from physical appearance, David Stockton is your ordinary millennial. The 23-year-old is generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds. And on a double take, his face may feature traits of John Stockton.

John, the Hall of Fame Utah Jazz guard, is David’s dad. The elder Stockton was also junior’s biggest hero, a point David isn’t shy to state.

“When you’re a kid, a lot of kids want to be like their dad, and that was me,” Stockton told Cowbell Kingdom on Sunday. “That was always what I wanted to do.”

For a week and a half, David accomplished his goal. The Sacramento Kings signed him to a 10-day contract on February 20, as he played for the D-League Reno Bighorns. On Monday, the Kings declined to extend another offer, and Stockton’s NBA dream temporarily came to an end.

Nevertheless, his road to the big leagues was quite remarkable. Stockton, who went to Gonzaga like his dad, didn’t start regularly for his college until his senior season, when he produced a personal-best 7.4 points, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The point guard led his school to the 2014 WCC Men’s Championship, but his winning pedigree failed to get him drafted by an NBA franchise.

Coach David Arseneault Jr. and the Bighorns breathed life into Stockton’s career, where he proceeded to average 16.6 points, 8.2 assists and 2.4 steals in 31 contests. An injury to Kings starter Darren Collison and the unsure status of Andre Miller following a trade gave Stockton his first opportunity in the association.

It’s arguable whether Stockton is an NBA-caliber point guard. His size is his biggest liability, and it’s of upmost importance that he adds more strength. From a skills standpoint, Stockton is impressively polished for his age. The ball handler can thank his dad for lessons, since the Hall of Famer spent plenty of time with his son while breaking basketball records.

“Whenever he was at home, he was with us,” David noted. “Whenever they had home games, we would go to them. My dad was around a lot. Granted, he had those road trips, but he was mostly around.”

In his 10 days in the NBA, Stockton absorbed as much as he could. He ran four full speed practices, and gained access to a world class gym. Kings coaches, who were busy implementing George Karl and Vance Walberg’s new system, offered the guard few tips on technique, but repeated the same message.

“They just want me to play hard,” Stockton recalled. “Play fast, make good decisions and play defense.”

Stockton’s NBA debut, and his only appearance, came in the final seven minutes of a blowout loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on February 21. The floor general didn’t set the world on fire, but he held his own and scored one point, one assist, two rebounds and two turnovers with a plus-seven differential.

“Everybody is bigger, stronger, faster here (than D-League),” Stockton added.

It was clear that Stockton appreciated his time in the NBA, if smiles were an indication. The guard now better understands how much he must improve to compete at this level. He heads back to the drawing board in Reno with a tease of the reward he’s been fighting for his entire life.

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Rui Thomas
Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.

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