SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Jackson rankled some Utah Jazz fans on Monday when word started to spread on Twitter about a backhanded compliment he gave John Stockton.
NBA.com writer David Aldridge explored some of the all-time best backcourt combos to evaluate whether or not Golden State's coach was correct in calling Splash Brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson “the best-shooting backcourt tandem in the history of the game.”
Aldridge listed multiple top-tier shooting backcourts: Portland’s Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter; Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney of the Sixers; Oscar Robertson and Jon McGlocklin of the Royals/Bucks; Vern Fleming and Reggie Miller of the Pacers; Mark Price and Craig Ehlo of the Cavs; Jerry West and Gail Goodrich of the Lakers; and, of course, Stockton and Jeff Hornacek of the Jazz.
The case for and against those duos was made in the interesting article, but Jackson, a teammate of Stockton's in 2002-03, insisted it’s a moot point.
"Whatever you want to rank 'shooting,' my two guys are the greatest shooting, jump-shooting tandem, that this league has ever seen," Jackson told NBA.com. "And that's not even close. And I'm not guessing. I've watched all the greats, and it's with all due respect."
Turns out, Jackson had more respect for Hornacek’s shooting than Stockton’s.
"Hornacek -- great shooter. John Stockton -- good to very good shooter. Not a great shooter,” Jackson said. “Don't get me wrong. He was an all-time great player. But John Stockton would not be considered a great shooter."
Here’s how the four players stack up in some basic shooting statistics:
Thompson (three years): 43.6 percent from the field; 40.9 percent from 3-point range; 83.1 percent on free throws.
Curry (five years): 46.2 percent from the field; 44.0 percent from 3-point range; 89.5 percent on free throws.
Stockton (19 years): 51.5 percent from the field; 38.4 percent from 3-point range; 82.6 percent on free throws.
Hornacek (14 years): 49.6 percent from the field; 40.3 percent from 3-point range; 87.7 percent on free throws.
Just for fun comparison’s sake, check out the effective field goal percentage from basketball-reference.com:
Stockton, Jackson’s version of a “good to very good shooter,” had a stellar eFG percentage of .546 over nearly two decades. Incidentally, that is the same mark the sweet-shooting Curry has had since entering the league in 2010.
Hornacek tallied a .530 eFG percentage compared to .523 for Thompson in his third year.
“Steph can pull up off the dribble, in traffic. They're two of the better guys we've seen at those positions,” Hornacek recently told Aldridge. “But John and I could shoot it a little, too.”
DEADLINE DAY: Monday was business as usual for three guys whose time with the Jazz could end Tuesday. Friday is the deadline for players with nonguaranteed contracts to be released before their salaries become guaranteed for the rest of the season. But the unofficial deadline comes Tuesday night so players can have time to go through waivers before Friday.
This concerns three Jazz players: point guard Diante Garrett, forward Mike Harris and shooting guard Ian Clark. Garrett and Harris were out on the court early before Monday’s practice, and Clark is on a D-League assignment this week with the Bakersfield Jam.
“You really can’t think about it. It’s not under my control,” Harris said. “I’m just excited while I’m here. I’m enjoying the moment, and whatever happens, happens.”
Harris was the final player to make the 15-man roster after training camp, and he admitted this feels similar.
“You can’t focus on that,” he added. “You have to focus on just why you’re here and do whatever you can to help the team get better.”
So, has the decision been made to keep all three on the roster?
“The decision is we are (here) until we’re not that way anymore,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They’re right where they should be before practice — getting some work in.”
OUCH: Forward Marvin Williams was asked if he’d read the kind words his former coach, Larry Drew, said about him in Saturday’s Deseret News.
The 27-year-old’s answer was not what journalists wanted to hear.
“I haven't read a newspaper easily in a couple of years, probably,” he said, smiling.
To which a certain reporter joked back: “We don't watch the NBA. How does that feel?”
The easy-going Williams laughed.