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Following A Legend: The David Stockton Story

Son of NBA legend John Stockton, David Stockton is now trying to make the leap to the NBA and exceed expectations once again.

Yannis Koutroupis

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No different than a lot of kids, former Gonzaga point guard David Stockton grew up wanting to be like his father. What made David different was that his dad is Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton, who played 19 years with the Utah Jazz during which he set NBA records in career steals (3,265) and assists (15,806).

As a child, David loved watching his father and felt like because he was the son of a great point guard he would automatically become one too.

For someone who wasn’t a standout athlete or imposing physical specimen, John did make the game look quite easy, a little bit too easy from his son’s point of view.

“If anything as a kid it kind of hurt me as I got to the high school level,” David said to Basketball Insiders. “As a kid when that’s your dad it’s as simple as, ‘Yeah I’m going to do exactly as he’s doing, I’m going to grow up, play for the Jazz and be one of the best point guards ever.’ In my mind that’s how easy it was. That’s what kind of hurt me, when I realized there’s a lot more to it, hard work. He just made it look so easy and that was the hardest part for me.”

Following that reality check was doubt. He went on to become a solid player for Gonzaga Prep during his final year in high school, leading them to a fourth place finish in their division, but there wasn’t one D-I scholarship offer waiting for him afterwards. In fact, there weren’t any D-I schools even giving him serious looks. At 5’11, he was written off by most because, like his dad, he doesn’t pass the eye test with blazing colors.

Stockton did manage to catch on with the hometown Gonzaga Bulldogs as a walk-on. He was red-shirted his freshman year, with no guarantee that he was going to have a spot the following season, or ever be more than a member of the scout team in practice, whose sole purpose is to help prepare the guys who are actually going to see the floor. During that red shirt year, though, Stockton found his niche.

“I could really guard and frustrate some of the best players on our team,” Stockton said. “Defensively, if you can make an impact there, things will come. Once I got there and practiced, got used to the speed of the college game, I was confident I could play.”

As was his head coach, Mark Few.

Stockton’s defense earned him a spot in the regular rotation the following season. His role gradually increased from then on. As a senior this past season, he played 27.8 minutes a game for the Bulldogs, setting career marks across the board with 7.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals in 27.8 minutes of action a night.

Retiring from the game in 2003, his dad was able to have a really hands on role with his development and served as the greatest tutor a young point guard could ask for.

“Just seeing how he carried himself on the court, the decisions he made on a daily basis, realizing who needs the ball, where they need it, taking care of it and not turning it over,” Stockton said when asked what he took from his father. “As a point guard, I feel like IQ is the most important thing you can have.

“[He also taught me] the attitude you have to play with as a smaller guy. Nothing is easy. You’re not buddy buddy with everybody. There’s a serious factor to the game.”

In addition to studying his father’s game, David also watched a lot of Boston Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, players who also lack the ideal size for their position but have still managed to more than make their mark at the next level.

“Like my transition from the high school level to college level, I think there’s a lot of learning and figuring things out as I get used to the speed,” Stockton said. “But I think there’s no doubt that I can play that speed if given the chance.

“I think there’s a lot of room [for me to improve]. I feel like there is growing left in me. I’m going to the next level with the expectation of being willing to learn, willing to be coached. I’m not a guy who thinks he has all the answers. I’m just trying to get better.”

Written off by many out of high school, David exceeded expectations over the last four years, and he has no plans to stop now. Following in his dad’s footsteps has not been anywhere near as glamorous or as smooth as he originally believed it to be, yet he hasn’t been deterred at all in the pursuit of his dream.

“I want NBA teams to know they’re going to get a guy who is going to work extremely hard for them,” Stockton said. “[I’ll] do everything for the betterment of the team, not myself. I just want to play the game.”

The odds may be stacked against David to get drafted in this deep, highly heralded class, but with the relentless desire to improve, a coveted attribute in his defensive toughness and a tremendous basketball pedigree, he could prove everyone wrong once again.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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NBA

NBA Daily: Lessons From The 2018 NBA Draft

After a wild 2018 NBA Draft, here are four lessons and storylines worth watching over the next few years.

Ben Nadeau

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Now that the dust has settled on an unpredictable NBA Draft — what exactly have we learned? In amongst the unrelenting rumors, refused workouts and surprise reaches, there are a few key takeaways from Brooklyn. Of course, some of these are one-off instances, but others are definitely part of modern-day draft patterns. While draft night may sometimes seem like complete chaos or chance, each scenario on this rundown has been boiling over for weeks. Between passing on a talented prospect to letting an injured one slide, here are four important lessons from the 2018 NBA Draft.

Luka Dončić… Not The No. 1?

For months and months, it appeared as if Luka Dončić was poised to become the No. 1 overall pick in this draft. Even today, it’s hard to believe that somebody with Dončić’s age and resume wasn’t the top selection. In 2017-18 alone, the Slovenian took home EuroLeague MVP and Finals MVP plus ACB MVP, with championships in both leagues to boot — but here we are. Dončić averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals over just 25 minutes per game, quickly transforming into the most well-rounded overseas prospect of all-time. But as impressive as Dončić was throughout the spring, the potential ceilings of both DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III eventually won out.

At 7-foot-1, Ayton’s 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game were undeniably worthy of a top selection too, pairing well alongside Devin Booker and Josh Jackson for the foreseeable future. While the jury is still out on Bagley III — his defense needs some major fine-tuning — he won’t take key touches away from De’Aaron Fox either. More or less, nobody wants to be the organization to miss on such a franchise-altering pick. The Suns, Kings and even the Hawks may eventually regret passing on Dončić, but when general managers’ entire careers can depend on making the right choice at the right time, it’s not difficult to understand why the top of the draft unfolded as it did.

Playing Hard To Get Doesn’t Always Work Out…

As draft boards began to take shape, there was one particularly interesting situation sitting at No. 4 overall. Jaren Jackson Jr., solidly leading the second tier of prospects, was looking like a lock at the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick — but with one major caveat: Jackson Jr. reportedly didn’t work out or give his medical information to the franchise. After he was drafted, Jackson Jr. called those rumors “a tad out of context” — but, obviously, those are some massive red flags. Either way, Memphis went with their gut and selected the talented forward anyway.

But beyond all that, Memphis absolutely made the right move by sticking to their guns. Putting a modern three-point shooting, defensive-minded athlete next to Marc Gasol should prove to be an absolute nightmare for years to come. Naturally, Jackson Jr. will get plenty of easy looks from the stellar Mike Conley Jr. too — so if the draftee was once apprehensive, surely that will pass soon. Still, it reflects on a larger NBA pattern, wherein which prospective athletes sensibly look to mold their own path out of college. With players trying to control their draft narratives more than ever, it’s reassuring to see that some franchises will take their target first and then figure out the rest.

We may never know Jackson Jr.’s full thought process behind not working out for the Grizzlies, but there’s a great chance that the former Spartan was made for Memphis’ tough brand of basketball — and we should all be glad we’ll get to see it.

…But Injuries Will Lead To A Slide

Michael Porter Jr. — what a year for him, huh?

After missing out on much of his only collegiate season due to back surgery, Porter Jr. promised that he was feeling better than ever. But over the last month, scouts and front offices were treated to canceled workouts and hazy uncertainty. And, at the end of the day, it probably scared a handful of franchises away from the talented scorer. Just this week, the Kings heavily considered Porter Jr. at No. 2 overall — but even with that sudden unlikelihood passing by, few thought he’d drop out of the top ten altogether. Outside of the guaranteed money that Porter Jr. will miss out on, redshirting his rookie year may also be on the table as well.

The inherent upside with Porter Jr. is obvious, but — similarly to the Dončić issue — it’s tough to ask franchise officials to stake their livelihood on the prospect’s health. If Porter Jr.’s lingering issues stay with him and he never reaches his mountain of potential, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The 19-year-old would fall all the way down to No. 14, where the Denver Nuggets gladly scooped him up. During the combine in May, Porter Jr. called himself the best player in the draft — but it’s now up to him to prove them all wrong.

The Mysterious Men Nearly Miss Out

Let’s rewind to early April. Villanova had been just crowned NCAA champions for the second time in three years, the NBA playoffs were soundly on the horizon and mock drafts had begun to consistently pour out. Early on, there were two athletic big men that looked like shoo-ins as first-rounders: Robert Williams and Mitchell Robinson. Despite their undercooked skill-sets, both players pulled out of the combine and then waited for the hype to build — except, well, it didn’t. Williams, who was typically projected in the early teens, slipped out of the lottery entirely, only to be rescued by the Boston Celtics at No. 27. Williams is a booming, powerful prospect, but he could’ve really benefited from competing against the other top prospects in May.

Although he’s now landed in an ideal situation with Brad Stevens, Al Horford and a process-driven Celtics squad, Williams likely cost himself a whole load of money over the last 30-plus days as well.

In Robinson’s case, many believed his floor was the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25 — rumors swirling that the 7-foot-1 center even received a promise from the illustrious franchise. Instead, Robinson dropped to the New York Knicks at No. 36 overall. Robinson had originally committed to Western Kentucky in July of 2017 before dropping out to prepare for the draft. After skipping the combine last month, Robinson indeed exhibited the potential to be both a steady shot-blocker and three-point maker during his individual evaluations. But with little to go off of but high school highlight reels and small session workout tapes, he understandably fell.

Sometimes the hype is impossible to ignore, but not participating in the combine and staying as mysterious as possible hurt these ultra-talented prospects.

While the 2018 NBA Draft wasn’t quite the trade-heavy, drama-laden extravaganza much of the world expected, there are plenty of narratives to reflect upon. At the end of the day, the ink is barely dry on this year’s festivities and it’ll be some time before there’s any indication of these successes or failures. Still, there are lessons to be learned from every draft, workout or injury process and these are four conversations worth considering as the NBA quickly rolls into the summer league season.

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VIDEO: 2018 NBA Draft Winners

Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may have done better than expected.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may have done better than expected.

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Insiders Video

VIDEO: 2018 NBA Draft Losers

Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may not have done as well as expected.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may not have done as well as expected.

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