Younger Stockton Gets Chance With Suns

Ryan Wolf/
by Matt Petersen

When Jeff Hornacek saw David Stockton enter the practice court for his pre-draft workout, it was hard for him not to smile.

The Suns’ head coach was, after all, seeing a big part of his own playing days return from the past, albeit a few years older.

Stockton is, of course, a well-known name in NBA circles. David's father John starred for the Utah Jazz for 19 seasons, and is the reigning all-time assists and steals leader in the record books.

Hornacek teamed up with the elder Stockton for seven of those years in Utah, which included two trips to the NBA Finals and better than a .640 record each of those seasons.

Their kids were along for the ride the entire way.

David Stockton at Pre-Draft Workouts

“My three kids’ age correlates with three of John’s kids,” Hornacek said. “When the games were going on, I know Tyler and David would be in the wives’ room playing basketball. I don’t know if they even watched many of the games. It seemed like the older kids sat there and watched them, but they were off playing.”

David kept playing as he got older, and Hornacek was one of his first coaches at the grade school level.

“He’s taken a step up from that,” Stockton laughed.

Reminiscing, however, gave way to a business-like version of the game the two shared as family friends in the 1990s. Stockton’s chances at getting drafted seemed unlikely, but he knew a good workout could earn him other avenues that lead to the same destination of professional basketball.

It opened up in the form of a Summer League invite from the Suns, extended after what Phoenix’s staff saw on tape from Stockton’s days at Gonzaga as well as in his pre-draft run in the Valley.

“His passing ability really stood out today,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “You can tell he’s grown up around the game. He has a great feel for the game. Obviously he’s a little bit limited physically. He’s small and light, but I think he makes up for that with intelligence and smarts and toughness and passing ability.”

Those skills were enough to make room for Stockton in the backcourt, where he’ll compete for time behind fellow point guards Tyler Ennis (drafted 18th overall) and Seth Curry.

"I think I’ve had to prove myself every day I step out onto the court”

— David Stockton

He’ll need to prove his size (5-11, 160 pounds) won’t be a deterrant against NBA-sized point guards. He’ll also need to show the shooting stroke he exhibited his sophomore year (39.2 percent from three) before falling off the following two seasons (though he did shoot 3.5 percent better overall).

There’s also the universal challenge of tailoring skills to a specific style. Phoenix is universally acclaimed as a player-friendly team to play for. That doesn’t mean everyone can, though Stockton thinks he fits the mold.

“I like to push [the tempo],” he said. “I like to run, play fast, play defense and make plays. I think it would carry over well.”

He will need to prove it. Proving himself, however, is nothing new to Stockton.

“I think I’ve had to prove myself every day I step out onto the court,” he said.