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Eisley doesn't stack up to Stock

Expect Howard Eisley to score about a bucket less than John Stockton did, dish out four fewer assists per game and to be in foul trouble often as the starting point guard for the Utah Jazz.It'll happen - if it means anything to go by what Eisley did last season, projected to Stockton-like minutes.

Stockton underwent surgery on his left knee Monday and will be out for 8 to 12 weeks. Eisley will now be asked to start for about three months in the place of the nine-time all-star, including Friday night when the Jazz play a preseason road game against the Indiana Pacers.

Jazz coaches and players profess plenty of confidence in the 24-year-old Eisley, a three-year NBA veteran.

But should they? While he was impressive at times and opened eyes nationally during the playoffs, Eisley has never started a regular-season NBA contest. Before finding a home with the Jazz two years ago, he had been cut by both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs.

Both Stockton and Eisley played in all 82 regular season games last season for the Jazz. But Stockton averaged 35.3 minutes per game, more than 21/2 times Eisley's 13.2 minutes. So comparing numbers straight across is like apples and oranges.

To compare apples to apples, we took Eisley's statistics from last season and multiplied them by 2.675 - which would be like increasing his 13.2 minutes into Stockton's 35.3. The outcome was interesting, if not exactly surprising. Stockton had better numbers across the board, with the exception of blocked shots.

Stockton averaged 10.5 assists and 14.4 points per game last season. Eisley's projected numbers for 35.2 minutes: 6.5 assists and 12.0 points. Eisley, who shot 45.1 percent from the field last season, put up more shots per minute, but made fewer since Stockton shot a blistering 54.8 percent.

As expected, Stockton's numbers in steals (166) and turnovers (248) were better than the Eisley projected numbers (118 steals, 294 turnovers).

The most blatant difference was in fouls committed. Perhaps since he knew he would never foul out because his court time was limited, Eisley committed nearly twice as many fouls per minute than Stockton. Eisley would have averaged 4.6 personal fouls per game had he played 35.3 minutes. Stockton averaged 2.4 fouls.

Obviously, Stockton has a statistical advantage over Eisley - and that doesn't take into consideration other factors such as leadership, court awareness and experience in various situations.

Still, the Jazz have confidence in Eisley.

"You have to remember that when we put Howard Eisley into games during the playoffs, he wasn't just able to hold our lead, he helped us increase our lead," said Jazz assistant coach Gordon Chiesa. "We have plenty of confidence in Howard."

Said guard Jeff Hornacek, "The big thing for Howard is to not try to overdo things. He needs to run the plays, and if the rest of us execute the way that we're supposed to, we'll be all right. He can't go out there and think that since John isn't there he has to score 15 points with 10 assists and do what John does. He just needs to play his game."


Additional Information

Backup plan

John Stockton played an average of 35.3 minutes last season. Backup Howard Eisley played 13.2 minutes. To make a comparison, we factored Eisley's statistics to see what his 1996-97 numbers would project to playing 35.3 minutes per game.

Eisley Stockton

1996-97 Projected 1996-97

Minutes 1083 2897 2986

Field goals made 139 372 416

Field goals att. 308 824 759

Field goal pct. .451 .451 .548

Free throws made 70 187 275

Free throws att. 89 238 325

Free throw pct. .810 .810 .846

Rebounds 84 225 228

Assists 198 530 860

Assist avg. 2.4 6.5 10.5

Turnovers 110 294 248

Personal fouls 141 377 194

Steals 44 118 166

Blocks 10 27 15

3-point att. 20 54 76

3-point made 72 193 18

3-point pct. .251 .251 .422

Points 368 984 1183

Scoring avg. 4.5 12.0 14.4