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A fact that has long been known in the underground surfaced
during the playoffs last season: Pound for pound, the best pick
setters in the league are a pair of scrawny guards, the Jazz's
John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek.

Ask NBAers which players set the most effective picks, and you
will wind up with a long list of bulked-up big men. Power
forwards such as the Jazz's Karl Malone, the Knicks' Charles
Oakley and Buck Williams, the Pistons' Rick Mahorn and the
Grizzlies' Otis Thorpe were mentioned often, with centers
Patrick Ewing of the Knicks and Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers
not far behind. Those players are 6'8" or taller and 225 pounds
or heavier. But somehow Stockton (6'1", 175) was mentioned more
often than any other player, and Hornacek (6'4", 190) also made
the list with ease. "I wish my fours and fives would set picks
as effectively as those two little guys," says a Western
Conference coach. "They won't flatten you like Mahorn or Thorpe,
but they won't set a lazy screen, like Shaq or [the Rockets']
Hakeem [Olajuwon] will from time to time."

The Jazz, particularly Stockton and Hornacek, created quite a
stir in the playoffs last season with their system of back
picks, which they learned from the master, Utah coach Jerry
Sloan, who in his playing days with the Bulls created the best
picks ever set by a guard. Utah's Western Conference final
opponents, the Rockets, complained especially loudly. Says
Hornacek, "Maybe John and I should be the ones complaining. The
big guys punish people with their screens. We pretty much just
get punished."


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER FOR A LITTLE GUY, STOCKTON SETS A BIG PICK [Karl Malone, Ron Harper, John Stockton and Luc Longley in game]