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Why David Stockton Stands Tall As Brady Heslip's Perfect Running Mate

Through two games, the focus may be on Brady Heslip's sharpshooting thus far, but the fact of the matter is that David Stockton precision passing is a big key to his teammate's early success.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After pouring in 40 points (and knocking down 11 daggers from deep) on Saturday and 38 points (converting on 9 long balls) on Sunday, it's safe to say that Brady Heslip is not only on pace to shatter the D-League three-point record (set by Troy Daniels just last season), but also secure himself a minor league M.V.P. award.

With such eye-popping numbers early on, it would make sense that most of the focus is on Heslip. That said, one wouldn't have to look very far to find one of the keys to the shooting guard's initial success.

That's because floor general David Stockton appears to be an ideal fit as Heslip's running mate in the Reno Bighorns' backcourt. After tallying 21 points and 5 assists in Saturday's loss to the Iowa Energy, the Gonzaga product took the Grand Rapids Drive to task on Sunday, adding 17 points while dropping an all the more impressive 14 assists.

In new head coach Dave Arseneault's fast-paced Grinnell flavored offense, the team needs a fireball of a point guard to ensure Heslip and co. push the tempo.

With that in mind, Stockton appears taylor-made for the system.

The Bighorns owned the tenth and eleventh overall picks in the 2014 NBA D-League Draft earlier this month. There was plenty of speculation that Heslip and Stockton happened to be two of the team's targets, and frankly, it wouldn't have been unjustified for the pair to have been selected consecutively in the first round as Reno's initial one-two punch.

But after the Bighorns snagged Joonas Caven alongside Heslip, Stockton dropped to round three, and the team struck gold after agreeing upon a trade with the Maine Red Claws for the fortieth overall selection. Obviously valuing him highly, Reno sent their 2015 second round pick (in addition to Ray Cowels) Maine's way for Stockton.

Stockton is quite the orchestrator, able to run and gun while finding his teammates in transition. He gets his players the ball, before the defense finds them first. When Stockton chooses to slow things down, it's usually because he's choreographing a certain vision he has on the hardwood that ensures the players around him cash in on higher-percentage looks inside.

In addition to his 17 points and 14 assists in Reno's Sunday victory, Stockton also had 8 turnovers. This, of course, netted him dangerously close to the type of triple-double most players try to avoid. Having said that, such mishaps happened to occur in the flow of the offense, and at the rate Stockton and the Bighorns were going, they gained an increasing number of possessions (and subsequent shot opportunities) along the way, so the turnovers seemingly had less of a negative impact by game's end.

Stockton's plus/minus of +22 on Sunday represented a team-high in Reno's commanding victory.

Of course, the pedigree a young gun like Stockton happens to own doesn't hurt either. He happens to be the son of Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton.

Taking some time to watch the next of kin, it's clear the father has passed on some of his smart and steady court vision along. It'll be interesting to see if the younger Stockton continues to thrive with the Bighorns in this ever unique offense.