When it comes to discussing the greats in basketball, Michael Jordan’s name is bound to come up. His legacy remains unparalleled, with some believing that he could dominate even in the contemporary basketball scene. Today’s NBA, with its rules and trends, seems more conducive to high scoring games, which has led some fans and players to speculate that Michael Jordan, in his prime, could average between 40 to 50 points per game today.
A variety of NBA legends and players have chimed in with their thoughts on this hypothetical scenario. James Harden, a high scorer in the contemporary era, averaged 36 points per game on 44% field goal shooting, while DeMar DeRozan, known for his mid-range game similar to Jordan’s, had a scoring streak averaging at least 35 points per game. The fact that these players, while talented, are not considered in the same stratosphere as Jordan suggests that he would indeed score higher in today’s NBA.
Jordan’s career-high average was 37 points in a season, during an era that allowed hand-checking, a defensive strategy which has since been prohibited in the NBA. Some believe that with the elimination of hand-checking and the addition of the defensive three-second rule implemented in the 2001-02 season, Jordan would find himself slashing through defenses with even more ease than he did in his prime.
Contrary to the myth that Jordan was a poor three-point shooter, he showcased his ability to be a decent shooter from beyond the arc when given the opportunity. In the 1989-90 season, Jordan shot 245 three-pointers and made over 37 percent of them. In the ’96 season, he shot 42% from the three-point line. If Jordan were to adapt to the modern NBA’s emphasis on three-point shooting, he likely would have increased his volume of attempts, further boosting his points per game.
The impact of rule changes and evolving game trends are not the only factors contributing to the potential increase in Jordan’s average. Luca Doncic, during his appearance on JJ Reddick’s podcast, mentioned that it’s easier to score in the NBA compared to European leagues. He suggested that the combination of modern spacing, no hand-checking, and advanced strategic elements would allow an all-time great like Jordan to thrive even more.
A multitude of NBA legends and players also shared their opinions on how they envision Jordan’s performance in the current NBA. The consensus was that his scoring average would lie somewhere between 40 to 50 points per game, attributing this to his exceptional mid-range game, prolific defense leading to transition points, and an increased likelihood of getting to the free-throw line.
Notably, it’s suggested that Jordan’s defensive prowess would also inflate his scoring numbers. As many have stated, he was an all-around player with a remarkable ability to generate points off his defense, something that would likely remain constant in today’s NBA. Jordan’s physicality and offensive skillset, coupled with the lack of defensive aggression allowed in the modern game, indicate he would have a higher frequency at the free-throw line, augmenting his scoring average.
However, one can’t help but wonder if the increase in the league’s athleticism and length might pose a challenge for Jordan. Yet, as many players and fans have noted, his skill level remains unmatched. His proficiency at scoring from mid-range, coupled with his probable adaptability to the increasing importance of the three-point game, would likely enable him to succeed amidst the league’s evolution.
In conclusion, the possibility of Michael Jordan’s hypothetical performance in today’s NBA continues to excite fans and players alike. While we may never truly know how well he would perform, it’s thought-provoking to delve into the perspectives of individual players from different eras and examine what they have to say about Michael Jordan playing in today’s NBA.
Kobe Bryant, the late Lakers legend, who is often compared to Michael Jordan due to similarities in their playing style, believed that Jordan would excel in any era. In an interview with ESPN, Kobe stated, “MJ would average 40 without a problem in today’s NBA. He’d figure out the three-point game and spacing and just pick teams apart.”
Kevin Durant, a superstar in today’s NBA, has shown great admiration for Jordan. Durant has said that the greatness of Jordan would translate to any era, including today’s NBA. While speaking on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Durant mentioned that he believes Michael Jordan could average over 40 points per game if he were in his prime today.
Scottie Pippen, Jordan’s teammate during the Chicago Bulls’ dominant run in the 90s, believes that Jordan’s scoring would have been even higher in today’s game. He attributed this to the current NBA rules favoring offensive players, making it easier for them to score. On an episode of ESPN’s The Jump, Pippen said, “The game is just too easy for him [Michael Jordan] now.”
Charles Barkley, a Hall of Famer and one of Jordan’s contemporaries, expressed a similar sentiment. During an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, Barkley commented that if he were playing today, he could average around 30 points, and for Michael Jordan, that number would be around 45-50 points due to the open nature of the modern game and the way it favors offense.
LeBron James, often considered alongside Michael Jordan in the GOAT debate, has shown respect for Jordan’s game. In an interview with ESPN, LeBron said that Michael Jordan was such an assassin on the offensive end that with the way the NBA is played today, he could easily average 50 if he wanted to.
Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas provided an interesting take. In an Instagram post, he emphasized that Jordan’s mid-range game, combined with the lack of such shooting in today’s NBA, would have made him even deadlier. He suggested that because teams focus more on three-pointers and layups, Jordan’s proficiency in the mid-range area would have been a matchup nightmare.
Allen Iverson, one of the best scorers and ball handlers in NBA history, has always been a great admirer of Michael Jordan. In a Players Tribune article, he wrote, “I really believe if MJ was in his prime in today’s rules, he would be impossible to guard. Even more so than back when I played against him.”
While these opinions are speculative, they do provide an insight into what fellow players and legends believe would be the impact of Michael Jordan in today’s NBA. As a player whose skill set transcended eras, Jordan’s hypothetical performance in the contemporary NBA is something that continues to be a topic of fascination for basketball fans around the world.