How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively

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How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#1 » by Quake Griffin » Sat May 23, 2020 1:50 am

Please advise.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#2 » by cecilthesheep » Sat May 23, 2020 3:30 am

There's some pretty in-depth discussion on this in the greatest-defensively-at-each-position project, but in brief from what I remember:

* Payton's probably the highest peak, but he tailed off relatively quickly compared to the elite longevity of the other two guys, and got by on reputation for a long time. Incredible lockdown defender on bigger and smaller guards when he turns it on. Sometimes gambles a little too much but has the tools to make it work.

* Kidd is the most switchable and best rebounder, standing up to even larger wings really well and using his strength excellently. Not much of a gambler one on one, but does know how to play passing lanes and gets some steals that way.

* Stockton is the worst one-on-one defender out of these three by a long shot, but the best at playing passing lanes, sniping the post, using immaculate positioning to get by with lesser physical tools.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#3 » by Roddy B for 3 » Sat May 23, 2020 10:50 am

I think Kidd is the best he has 2 guard size, but has done if the quickest feet ever, he's also really strong, I'd take GP next and then Stockton
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#4 » by Dutchball97 » Sat May 23, 2020 4:05 pm

Kidd by a hair over Payton with Stockton clearly behind.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#5 » by trex_8063 » Sat May 23, 2020 4:22 pm

cecilthesheep wrote:There's some pretty in-depth discussion on this in the greatest-defensively-at-each-position project, but in brief from what I remember:

* Payton's probably the highest peak, but he tailed off relatively quickly compared to the elite longevity of the other two guys, and got by on reputation for a long time. Incredible lockdown defender on bigger and smaller guards when he turns it on. Sometimes gambles a little too much but has the tools to make it work.

* Kidd is the most switchable and best rebounder, standing up to even larger wings really well and using his strength excellently. Not much of a gambler one on one, but does know how to play passing lanes and gets some steals that way.

* Stockton is the worst one-on-one defender out of these three by a long shot, but the best at playing passing lanes, sniping the post, using immaculate positioning to get by with lesser physical tools.



This^^ is pretty spot-on, imo. I'll just augment it a little.....

As stated Payton may have had the highest peak, at least as a man defender (not sure about overall; more on that below). But at his best when he locked in, he was a frightening one-on-one defender (see '96 Finals when they put him on MJ). At 6'4" and a wirey-strong 180 lbs he couldn't be easily abused by larger guards (like Jordan), but he was quick enough to guard the smaller faster ones too. And he could just be tenaciously pesky, and very physical, didn't block shots but contested well.
Like cecil said, he gambled somewhat more often than optimal [imo], though he mostly made it work: from '91-'98 he AVERAGED 2.4 stl/36 min (that's with the pace slowing down toward the end of the decade, too).

However, I also agree that his defensive impact was the least uniform of the three. While Kidd and Stockton continued to have positive defensive impact basically their entire careers, Payton's dwindled by late in his prime (where he continued to get honors based on reputation alone). It's somewhat understandable: he had all the highest usage rates of his career in his 30's, when his stamina [and general athleticism] was likely in early decline.......something had to give.
But I would say his last 3-4 All-D honors were probably not strictly earned.


Kidd, at 6'4", 205 lbs and with really long arms is [as stated] the most switchable defender. Really could guard 1-3 (maybe even smaller 4's without being too much of a liability). Don't know if he quite had Payton's lateral quickness, but pretty good. He used his great length well to both contest shots and stretch into passing lanes (was really good at impeding the slip pass on the pnr---sort of harrying the play from the side---with those arms, sort of like a longer-armed Chris Paul). And as noted is easily the best rebounding PG of the three (seemed to have a sixth sense for knowing where the carom was going).
It's interesting that the '02 and '03 Nets were both the #1 defense, and Jason Kidd was arguably the closest thing to an "anchor" of that (look at their defensive FF's....it's not the typical distribution seen with elite rim-protecting anchor, for example [and where their DREB% is concerned, it's worth noting Kidd was 2nd on the team in drpg both years]). Realistically these #1 defenses were more of an ensemble effort with him, Jason Collins, and K-Mart being the biggest pieces; but still, that's pretty damn rare for a PG. As such, I think one can easily argue him as the highest defensive peak of the three.
And like cecil said, he made himself an effective defender pretty much to the end of his career (certainly at least as far as '11; RAPM posits him as a plus defender in '12 and '13, too).


Stockton is both the smallest and had probably the worst lateral quickness of the three (not as slow as Steve Nash, just not great). He made up for it by being extremely savvy in his positioning, and being physical and frankly [I'll say it, even though he's one of my fav players] kinda dirty: he hooked, grabbed, pushed, practically wrestled with his man (usually off-ball, when they're trying to move thru a screen, set a screen, or otherwise get to their spot) on a regular basis. And there was nothing malicious in this: he wasn't trying to hurt anyone, nor even deliberately trying to get into anyone's head, nor taking cheap shots at guys he didn't like. It was nothing personal to him, just business, and he carried it out with the same stoicism he did everything with.

And he also didn't begrudge anyone else being physical with him. I remember a story Chris Webber once told about John Stockton.....it was during his years in Washington, and the coaching staff was concerned about how to neutralize Stockton, and Webber says he volunteered to "send him a message"; to do something early on in the game to get in his head, intimidate, or otherwise throw him off his rhythm and have him looking over his shoulder. So early in the game while Stockton was pressuring the ball coming up the court, Webber came over as though to set a screen on him and layed a shoulder forcefully into him, knocking Stockton completely off his feet. The ref, of course, called Webber for a foul [not unexpected, avoiding foul wasn't the point of the play].
But he said Stockton just popped up like he was on springs, patted him on the butt and said "nice screen" as he trotted up the court. Webber said [paraphrasing], "as a 'big man' in the NBA, you have no idea how demoralizing that is: when you give your best shot to lay out this little pip-squeak, and he acts like nothing happened."
He further went on to say of Stockton that [again: paraphrasing] "you'd pass in him the hotel hallway on All-Star weekend or something and almost walk by without noticing him, until he'd say "hey Chris" do you look up and realize he's one of your peers; he just doesn't look the part. In slacks and polo shirt he looked more like an insurance salesman on a business trip. You'd never suspect that you just passed the baddest man in the whole NBA."

I just absolutely love Stock's grit. And cecil is right also that he was one of the best ever at making a snipe-like thieve on the post. I don't know how many of his record-breaking number of steals came that way, but I'd guess it's a lot.
He probably peaked the lowest defensively, but he was so damn consistent (just like he was in everything else), that his career defensive value is pretty substantial, imo.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#6 » by frica » Sat May 23, 2020 6:02 pm

trex_8063 wrote:
cecilthesheep wrote: I remember a story Chris Webber once told about John Stockton.....it was during his years in Washington, and the coaching staff was concerned about how to neutralize Stockton, and Webber says he volunteered to "send him a message"; to do something early on in the game to get in his head, intimidate, or otherwise throw him off his rhythm and have him looking over his shoulder. So early in the game while Stockton was pressuring the ball coming up the court, Webber came over as though to set a screen on him and layed a shoulder forcefully into him, knocking Stockton completely off his feet. The ref, of course, called Webber for a foul [not unexpected, avoiding foul wasn't the point of the play].
But he said Stockton just popped up like he was on springs, patted him on the butt and said "nice screen" as he trotted up the court. Webber said [paraphrasing], "as a 'big man' in the NBA, you have no idea how demoralizing that is: when you give your best shot to lay out this little pip-squeak, and he acts like nothing happened."
He further went on to say of Stockton that [again: paraphrasing] "you'd pass in him the hotel hallway on All-Star weekend or something and almost walk by without noticing him, until he'd say "hey Chris" do you look up and realize he's one of your peers; he just doesn't look the part. In slacks and polo shirt he looked more like an insurance salesman on a business trip. You'd never suspect that you just passed the baddest man in the whole NBA."


This has often been talked about on boxing forums too.
That it's extremely demoralizing to fight against an opponent who never reacts to anything.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#7 » by Jaivl » Sat May 23, 2020 6:55 pm

frica wrote:
trex_8063 wrote:
cecilthesheep wrote: I remember a story Chris Webber once told about John Stockton.....it was during his years in Washington, and the coaching staff was concerned about how to neutralize Stockton, and Webber says he volunteered to "send him a message"; to do something early on in the game to get in his head, intimidate, or otherwise throw him off his rhythm and have him looking over his shoulder. So early in the game while Stockton was pressuring the ball coming up the court, Webber came over as though to set a screen on him and layed a shoulder forcefully into him, knocking Stockton completely off his feet. The ref, of course, called Webber for a foul [not unexpected, avoiding foul wasn't the point of the play].
But he said Stockton just popped up like he was on springs, patted him on the butt and said "nice screen" as he trotted up the court. Webber said [paraphrasing], "as a 'big man' in the NBA, you have no idea how demoralizing that is: when you give your best shot to lay out this little pip-squeak, and he acts like nothing happened."
He further went on to say of Stockton that [again: paraphrasing] "you'd pass in him the hotel hallway on All-Star weekend or something and almost walk by without noticing him, until he'd say "hey Chris" do you look up and realize he's one of your peers; he just doesn't look the part. In slacks and polo shirt he looked more like an insurance salesman on a business trip. You'd never suspect that you just passed the baddest man in the whole NBA."


This has often been talked about on boxing forums too.
That it's extremely demoralizing to fight against an opponent who never reacts to anything.

Excuse me for the off-topic, but MAN, that's exactly why the Aldo-Holloway fights were so frustrating (as an Aldo fan :D).
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#8 » by KobesScarf » Sat May 23, 2020 7:32 pm

Kidd's biggest defensive impact was his communication or a better way to put it was his organization
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#9 » by Hal14 » Sun May 24, 2020 2:51 am

trex_8063 wrote:
cecilthesheep wrote:There's some pretty in-depth discussion on this in the greatest-defensively-at-each-position project, but in brief from what I remember:

* Payton's probably the highest peak, but he tailed off relatively quickly compared to the elite longevity of the other two guys, and got by on reputation for a long time. Incredible lockdown defender on bigger and smaller guards when he turns it on. Sometimes gambles a little too much but has the tools to make it work.

* Kidd is the most switchable and best rebounder, standing up to even larger wings really well and using his strength excellently. Not much of a gambler one on one, but does know how to play passing lanes and gets some steals that way.

* Stockton is the worst one-on-one defender out of these three by a long shot, but the best at playing passing lanes, sniping the post, using immaculate positioning to get by with lesser physical tools.



This^^ is pretty spot-on, imo. I'll just augment it a little.....

As stated Payton may have had the highest peak, at least as a man defender (not sure about overall; more on that below). But at his best when he locked in, he was a frightening one-on-one defender (see '96 Finals when they put him on MJ). At 6'4" and a wirey-strong 180 lbs he couldn't be easily abused by larger guards (like Jordan), but he was quick enough to guard the smaller faster ones too. And he could just be tenaciously pesky, and very physical, didn't block shots but contested well.
Like cecil said, he gambled somewhat more often than optimal [imo], though he mostly made it work: from '91-'98 he AVERAGED 2.4 stl/36 min (that's with the pace slowing down toward the end of the decade, too).

However, I also agree that his defensive impact was the least uniform of the three. While Kidd and Stockton continued to have positive defensive impact basically their entire careers, Payton's dwindled by late in his prime (where he continued to get honors based on reputation alone). It's somewhat understandable: he had all the highest usage rates of his career in his 30's, when his stamina [and general athleticism] was likely in early decline.......something had to give.
But I would say his last 3-4 All-D honors were probably not strictly earned.


Kidd, at 6'4", 205 lbs and with really long arms is [as stated] the most switchable defender. Really could guard 1-3 (maybe even smaller 4's without being too much of a liability). Don't know if he quite had Payton's lateral quickness, but pretty good. He used his great length well to both contest shots and stretch into passing lanes (was really good at impeding the slip pass on the pnr---sort of harrying the play from the side---with those arms, sort of like a longer-armed Chris Paul). And as noted is easily the best rebounding PG of the three (seemed to have a sixth sense for knowing where the carom was going).
It's interesting that the '02 and '03 Nets were both the #1 defense, and Jason Kidd was arguably the closest thing to an "anchor" of that (look at their defensive FF's....it's not the typical distribution seen with elite rim-protecting anchor, for example [and where their DREB% is concerned, it's worth noting Kidd was 2nd on the team in drpg both years]). Realistically these #1 defenses were more of an ensemble effort with him, Jason Collins, and K-Mart being the biggest pieces; but still, that's pretty damn rare for a PG. As such, I think one can easily argue him as the highest defensive peak of the three.
And like cecil said, he made himself an effective defender pretty much to the end of his career (certainly at least as far as '11; RAPM posits him as a plus defender in '12 and '13, too).


Stockton is both the smallest and had probably the worst lateral quickness of the three (not as slow as Steve Nash, just not great). He made up for it by being extremely savvy in his positioning, and being physical and frankly [I'll say it, even though he's one of my fav players] kinda dirty: he hooked, grabbed, pushed, practically wrestled with his man (usually off-ball, when they're trying to move thru a screen, set a screen, or otherwise get to their spot) on a regular basis. And there was nothing malicious in this: he wasn't trying to hurt anyone, nor even deliberately trying to get into anyone's head, nor taking cheap shots at guys he didn't like. It was nothing personal to him, just business, and he carried it out with the same stoicism he did everything with.

And he also didn't begrudge anyone else being physical with him. I remember a story Chris Webber once told about John Stockton.....it was during his years in Washington, and the coaching staff was concerned about how to neutralize Stockton, and Webber says he volunteered to "send him a message"; to do something early on in the game to get in his head, intimidate, or otherwise throw him off his rhythm and have him looking over his shoulder. So early in the game while Stockton was pressuring the ball coming up the court, Webber came over as though to set a screen on him and layed a shoulder forcefully into him, knocking Stockton completely off his feet. The ref, of course, called Webber for a foul [not unexpected, avoiding foul wasn't the point of the play].
But he said Stockton just popped up like he was on springs, patted him on the butt and said "nice screen" as he trotted up the court. Webber said [paraphrasing], "as a 'big man' in the NBA, you have no idea how demoralizing that is: when you give your best shot to lay out this little pip-squeak, and he acts like nothing happened."
He further went on to say of Stockton that [again: paraphrasing] "you'd pass in him the hotel hallway on All-Star weekend or something and almost walk by without noticing him, until he'd say "hey Chris" do you look up and realize he's one of your peers; he just doesn't look the part. In slacks and polo shirt he looked more like an insurance salesman on a business trip. You'd never suspect that you just passed the baddest man in the whole NBA."

I just absolutely love Stock's grit. And cecil is right also that he was one of the best ever at making a snipe-like thieve on the post. I don't know how many of his record-breaking number of steals came that way, but I'd guess it's a lot.
He probably peaked the lowest defensively, but he was so damn consistent (just like he was in everything else), that his career defensive value is pretty substantial, imo.


Very good analysis by both of you guys. This kind of stuff you only find on Real GM. Much better than the analysis on TNT or ESPN.

But neither of you said who you thought was better than who defensively.

Then again, the post is only asking how they compared defensively and not who was better than who. So touché :D

I'd also add that if you take these 3 guys and add in Frazier and Dennis Johnson (if you consider DJ a 1 and not a 2) that's the 5 best defensive point guards ever. DJ is very underrated, especially on this board.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#10 » by mitchco » Sun May 24, 2020 3:15 am

Here we go under-selling Payton again. GP was the best defender of the 3. Kidd was good, Stockton was gritty, but Payton was the alpha. I love and respect all 3 of those guys. Kidd and Stockton are 2 of my all-time favorites, but Payton had a certain tenacity that those guys didn't have....at least not to that degree.

If Payton's defense fell off some towards the end of the 90s, it was because he become the teams focal offensive load carrier. Kemp left, Baker fell off, no more Shrempf or Perkins...etc. With the talent, or lack there of, GP had no choice but to be the Sonic's number 1 offensive weapon. This was something else that Kidd and Stockton were not able to do for long stretches of time.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#11 » by cecilthesheep » Sun May 24, 2020 5:26 am

mitchco wrote:Here we go under-selling Payton again. GP was the best defender of the 3. Kidd was good, Stockton was gritty, but Payton was the alpha. I love and respect all 3 of those guys. Kidd and Stockton are 2 of my all-time favorites, but Payton had a certain tenacity that those guys didn't have....at least not to that degree.

If Payton's defense fell off some towards the end of the 90s, it was because he become the teams focal offensive load carrier. Kemp left, Baker fell off, no more Shrempf or Perkins...etc. With the talent, or lack there of, GP had no choice but to be the Sonic's number 1 offensive weapon. This was something else that Kidd and Stockton were not able to do for long stretches of time.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I mean I think we all pretty much have already agreed with everything you actually said here ... GP was the most ferocious man defender and probable highest peak of the three, that's not really in dispute. Trex even said it was understandable that his effort fell off as he became an offensive first option.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#12 » by mitchco » Sun May 24, 2020 12:31 pm

cecilthesheep wrote:
mitchco wrote:Here we go under-selling Payton again. GP was the best defender of the 3. Kidd was good, Stockton was gritty, but Payton was the alpha. I love and respect all 3 of those guys. Kidd and Stockton are 2 of my all-time favorites, but Payton had a certain tenacity that those guys didn't have....at least not to that degree.

If Payton's defense fell off some towards the end of the 90s, it was because he become the teams focal offensive load carrier. Kemp left, Baker fell off, no more Shrempf or Perkins...etc. With the talent, or lack there of, GP had no choice but to be the Sonic's number 1 offensive weapon. This was something else that Kidd and Stockton were not able to do for long stretches of time.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I mean I think we all pretty much have already agreed with everything you actually said here ... GP was the most ferocious man defender and probable highest peak of the three, that's not really in dispute. Trex even said it was understandable that his effort fell off as he became an offensive first option.


Multiple people in this thread have said that they would take Kidd over GP on D. I'm just trying to make it clear that Payton was the better defender. If you want to say that Kidd and Stockton were better passers, I won't argue that. But I'm tired of Payton sliding down the polls on this board just because a few years have gone by.

Payton was the best defender of the three. There shouldn't be any confusion on that. If people want to say he "gambled too much", it's for good reason. Payton was an expert at gambling. I've never seen a guard disrupt an entire game the way he did.
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Re: How do Payton, Stockton, and Kidd Compare Defensively 

Post#13 » by trex_8063 » Sun May 24, 2020 2:49 pm

Hal14 wrote:
trex_8063 wrote:
cecilthesheep wrote:There's some pretty in-depth discussion on this in the greatest-defensively-at-each-position project, but in brief from what I remember:

* Payton's probably the highest peak, but he tailed off relatively quickly compared to the elite longevity of the other two guys, and got by on reputation for a long time. Incredible lockdown defender on bigger and smaller guards when he turns it on. Sometimes gambles a little too much but has the tools to make it work.

* Kidd is the most switchable and best rebounder, standing up to even larger wings really well and using his strength excellently. Not much of a gambler one on one, but does know how to play passing lanes and gets some steals that way.

* Stockton is the worst one-on-one defender out of these three by a long shot, but the best at playing passing lanes, sniping the post, using immaculate positioning to get by with lesser physical tools.



This^^ is pretty spot-on, imo. I'll just augment it a little.....

As stated Payton may have had the highest peak, at least as a man defender (not sure about overall; more on that below). But at his best when he locked in, he was a frightening one-on-one defender (see '96 Finals when they put him on MJ). At 6'4" and a wirey-strong 180 lbs he couldn't be easily abused by larger guards (like Jordan), but he was quick enough to guard the smaller faster ones too. And he could just be tenaciously pesky, and very physical, didn't block shots but contested well.
Like cecil said, he gambled somewhat more often than optimal [imo], though he mostly made it work: from '91-'98 he AVERAGED 2.4 stl/36 min (that's with the pace slowing down toward the end of the decade, too).

However, I also agree that his defensive impact was the least uniform of the three. While Kidd and Stockton continued to have positive defensive impact basically their entire careers, Payton's dwindled by late in his prime (where he continued to get honors based on reputation alone). It's somewhat understandable: he had all the highest usage rates of his career in his 30's, when his stamina [and general athleticism] was likely in early decline.......something had to give.
But I would say his last 3-4 All-D honors were probably not strictly earned.


Kidd, at 6'4", 205 lbs and with really long arms is [as stated] the most switchable defender. Really could guard 1-3 (maybe even smaller 4's without being too much of a liability). Don't know if he quite had Payton's lateral quickness, but pretty good. He used his great length well to both contest shots and stretch into passing lanes (was really good at impeding the slip pass on the pnr---sort of harrying the play from the side---with those arms, sort of like a longer-armed Chris Paul). And as noted is easily the best rebounding PG of the three (seemed to have a sixth sense for knowing where the carom was going).
It's interesting that the '02 and '03 Nets were both the #1 defense, and Jason Kidd was arguably the closest thing to an "anchor" of that (look at their defensive FF's....it's not the typical distribution seen with elite rim-protecting anchor, for example [and where their DREB% is concerned, it's worth noting Kidd was 2nd on the team in drpg both years]). Realistically these #1 defenses were more of an ensemble effort with him, Jason Collins, and K-Mart being the biggest pieces; but still, that's pretty damn rare for a PG. As such, I think one can easily argue him as the highest defensive peak of the three.
And like cecil said, he made himself an effective defender pretty much to the end of his career (certainly at least as far as '11; RAPM posits him as a plus defender in '12 and '13, too).



Stockton is both the smallest and had probably the worst lateral quickness of the three (not as slow as Steve Nash, just not great). He made up for it by being extremely savvy in his positioning, and being physical and frankly [I'll say it, even though he's one of my fav players] kinda dirty: he hooked, grabbed, pushed, practically wrestled with his man (usually off-ball, when they're trying to move thru a screen, set a screen, or otherwise get to their spot) on a regular basis. And there was nothing malicious in this: he wasn't trying to hurt anyone, nor even deliberately trying to get into anyone's head, nor taking cheap shots at guys he didn't like. It was nothing personal to him, just business, and he carried it out with the same stoicism he did everything with.

And he also didn't begrudge anyone else being physical with him. I remember a story Chris Webber once told about John Stockton.....it was during his years in Washington, and the coaching staff was concerned about how to neutralize Stockton, and Webber says he volunteered to "send him a message"; to do something early on in the game to get in his head, intimidate, or otherwise throw him off his rhythm and have him looking over his shoulder. So early in the game while Stockton was pressuring the ball coming up the court, Webber came over as though to set a screen on him and layed a shoulder forcefully into him, knocking Stockton completely off his feet. The ref, of course, called Webber for a foul [not unexpected, avoiding foul wasn't the point of the play].
But he said Stockton just popped up like he was on springs, patted him on the butt and said "nice screen" as he trotted up the court. Webber said [paraphrasing], "as a 'big man' in the NBA, you have no idea how demoralizing that is: when you give your best shot to lay out this little pip-squeak, and he acts like nothing happened."
He further went on to say of Stockton that [again: paraphrasing] "you'd pass in him the hotel hallway on All-Star weekend or something and almost walk by without noticing him, until he'd say "hey Chris" do you look up and realize he's one of your peers; he just doesn't look the part. In slacks and polo shirt he looked more like an insurance salesman on a business trip. You'd never suspect that you just passed the baddest man in the whole NBA."

I just absolutely love Stock's grit. And cecil is right also that he was one of the best ever at making a snipe-like thieve on the post. I don't know how many of his record-breaking number of steals came that way, but I'd guess it's a lot.
He probably peaked the lowest defensively, but he was so damn consistent (just like he was in everything else), that his career defensive value is pretty substantial, imo.


Very good analysis by both of you guys. This kind of stuff you only find on Real GM. Much better than the analysis on TNT or ESPN.

But neither of you said who you thought was better than who defensively.


While I didn't state anything definitively, the bolded/coloured portions clearly imply that I think Stockton had the lowest defensive peak, and at least make the suggestion that Kidd perhaps had the highest.

I noted in other places that Kidd and Stockton both were plus defenders basically their entire careers, while Payton was not (although I acknowledge that Payton also had to shoulder an offensive load that neither of the other two were required to).

One could deduce from the above that I likely think Kidd had the best "average defensive year" and the most cumulative career value of the three, and that it gets muddy after that......and he'd be right. :)
All-Time NE Fantasy Team
PG-Chauncey Billups (06-08)/Terry Porter (91-93)
SG-George Gervin (78-80)/Danny Green
SF-R. Barry (67-70)/Bruce Bowen (04-06)
PF-Ho Grant (92-94)/D. Cowens (74-76)
C-D. Robinson (94-96)/Kevin Willis (92-94)
Bill Sharman (coach)

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