Last year's MVP, Steve Nash, had a season that would not have been out of the ordinary for Stockton. Both were extremely efficient shooters. Stockton's career shooting percentages were 51.5 percent from the field, 38.4 percent on 3-pointers and 82.6 percent from the line; Nash's marks last year were 50.2 percent, 43.1 percent and 88.7 percent, respectively. Both players posted incredible assist ratios: Nash's assist ratio of 41.6 was second-best in the NBA last year (behind Brevin Knight's 41.9), but it still fell short of Stockton's career mark of 43.6. Stockton (turnover ratio of 11.7) and Nash (11.8) were both a bit turnover-prone, but they have so many other plusses that it's hardly worth complaining about. This is a good time to note that one thing the similarity scores fail to adequately measure is defense. Stockton was named to the All-Defense second team five times during his career, while Nash's defensive reputation is, shall we say, not good.
Karl Malone-Elton Brand
Stockton's running mate in Utah, Malone, officially retired in February '05, but his on-court doppelganger still plays in the person of the Clippers' Brand. Rather than quote the numbers here, let me say that their shooting percentages, assist rates, turnover rates, foul rates, and rebound rates are thisclose. But the two differ in one major respect: shots. Malone averaged 19.1 field-goal attempts and 9.6 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes over his career. Brand, on the other hand, averaged 16.7 field-goal attempts and 6.5 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes last season. This discrepancy is a large reason why Malone averaged 4.7 points more per 40 minutes and had a usage rate almost five better than Brand's. But Brand, like Malone, is a very consistent player. In each year of his six-year career, Brand has averaged between 18.2 and 20.1 points per game.
Isiah Thomas-Mike Bibby
The point guard in '04-05 who was most similar to Thomas was Sacramento's Bibby. Thomas was more of an extreme player than Bibby, in producing a higher assist ratio (29.2 for Thomas versus 24.7 for Bibby) and a higher turnover ratio (11.9 versus 9.3). As a result of the greater number of assists and turnovers, Thomas' career usage rate was 28.3, compared to Bibby's 23.2 last season. So why are these two players considered similar? For one, Bibby (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) and Thomas (6-1, 180) were close in size, which helps the similarity score. The two players also scored at similar rates, as Bibby averaged 20.4 points per 40 minutes last season, and Thomas averaged 21.2 points per 40 minutes for his career. Their shooting percentages are also close -- Bibby shot 44.3 percent from the field and 77.5 percent from the line last season, while Thomas shot 45.2 percent and 75.9 percent, respectively in those categories for his career. Bibby has yet to be selected to an All-Star team, but that drought will end soon if he continues to put up numbers that would fit well into Thomas' career ledger.
Bernard King-Carmelo Anthony
Though they never shared the court together, King and Anthony share a habit of scoring points in bunches. King averaged 26.7 points per 40 minutes over the course of his career, 2.8 points more than Anthony. But some of the difference between King and Anthony's scoring rates can be accounted for by the faster pace of the game when King played (this is indirectly accounted for in the similarity scores method). King's superior field-goal percentage (51.8 percent) also boosted his scoring rate, as Anthony shot only 43.1 percent from the floor last season. King and Anthony played a similar number of minutes (33.7 minutes per game for King, 34.8 for Anthony), turned the ball over at a comparable rate (12.1 for King, 11.8 for Anthony) and produced the same rebound rate (9.4 percent).