original article – Kirk Goldsbury, ESPN
Translation and adaptation – UA- Football
What would have happened if Michael Jordan played in the modern NBA during the fighting years?
This popular hypothesis was taken into account in the documentary series “The Last Dance”, but when comparing different eras, it is necessary to take into account a large number of variables. But no matter how you look at it, it eventually becomes clear that MJ will dominate today just as he did with the Chicago Bulls in the ’90s.
Here are five reasons why Jordan is still the greatest basketball player in the world today.
Let’s start with the dimensions: Will Jordan be able to face the best players today? The answer is simple – yes.
Michael is considered one of the most impressive athletes in the NBA. Consider this excerpt from his 1983 New York Times profile.
“He is well built – 198cm tall, 86kg. You can play as a defender or a striker. He is fast, running 40 yards (36 metres) in 4.3 seconds.
We all know MJ can be lazy in the gym, but his speed was incredible. He can run as Dion Sanders (former American football player and baseball player, cut 40 yards in 4.27 seconds). Imagine Klay Thompson’s physique combined with the agility of Allen Iverson and the speed of Russell Westbrook. Jordan might not be as big and powerful as LeBron James, but he had elite speed. His jump was always very good.
While some Jordan era players will find it difficult to keep up with modern speeds, Michael will be just fine.
Will Jordan’s offensive game succeed these days? This question is not easy to answer. The NBA has changed a lot since Michael left basketball for good in 2003. The average pitches with which the Chicago leader started the opponent’s ring is no longer approved. Mid-distance jumpers have been replaced by the Three Points Era. Can Jordan adapt to this new reality?
The real Michael Jordan was born in 1963. Let’s imagine the modern virtual MJ was born in 1993. A lot changed in youth basketball between the 1970s and 2000s, and a lot changed in college curricula between 1980 and 2010.
The real Jordan carefully designed his game to fit a completely different version of basketball. In his first season, NBA teams averaged 3.1 three-pointers per game. In the 2019-2020 season, this number reached 33.9 attempts. Now any attacking defender who wants to win (and so was Michael) must have in his arsenal three pointers in good standing.
Skeptics might argue that during his career, Jordan only realized 32.7% of 1,778 three-pointers. This is not a very good number then and nowadays, but this number is also misleading. Most of the courts where Jordan learned to play didn’t even have three-point lines. When MJ became the NCAA Champion in 1982, there was no long-range defense on the field.
The hypothetical Jordan, born in 1993, had grown up in a basketball culture that promotes three-point throws. In high school and college, he would have to practice long-distance throws every day. The question of whether Michael could successfully throw from behind the arc is the same as asking whether Bjorn Borg could learn to play a modern tennis racket.
When modern scouts evaluate the throwing potential of young players, they pay more attention to the percentage of free throws than the actual percentage of long-range attempts. During his career, Jordan has made 84% of free throws in the NBA – that’s an impressive number.
Most importantly, Jordan was the best of his time when it came to jumping. No other player of his generation can come close to being able to create and execute throws with such a high degree of efficiency.
The way Jordan threw from the penalty line and midfield during his career leaves no doubt that MJ could easily have had a three-point set-piece if he had played in the modern NBA. We can assume that the three-point numbers for 27-year-old Michael, who plays in the NBA in 2020, are comparable to Clippers stars Paul George (39.9% averaging 7.9 attempts per game in the 2019-20 season.) and Kava Leonard ( 36.6% with 5.7 attempts).
George and Leonard are excellent two-way players like Jordan, both of whom came to the NBA without a consistent triple-pointer. However, they are getting better at this ingredient even before they reach their peak. as such? Hard work, talent and coaching coaches develop players.
Does anyone really think that Michael Jordan, the most competitive superstar in basketball history, wouldn’t be able to make 35-40% of three point sales if he grew up in an environment covered in attacks from the ocean. And stop!
The rules make collecting points easier
How many points will Jordan score in the modern NBA? Given changes in perimeter defense rules (hand contact was banned in 2004), throw distribution, and the increased pace of the game, it’s fair to assume that combining Jordan’s level of involvement with his performance today will bring Michael more points than in his era.
Imagine that Jordan and Chicago are in the modern NBA with their modern defensive attack “Miss Matches”. Imagine characters like Kevin Love or Christaps Porzingis trying to stop Jordan after their exchanges. Imagine defenders on the perimeter of the caliber of James Harden or Steve Kerry, who are trying to counter Jordan in his speed, dribbling and passing skill under the ring.
While there are more players in the modern NBA, such as Leonard, George or Thompson, who are likely to put more pressure on Jordan than his guardians in the 1990s, the lack of so-called “manual check” would protect the perimeter Much. more complicated. At present, Jordan would easily be at Harden’s level in terms of the free throw frequency he desires.
In his 13 years in Chicago, Jordan averaged 31.5 points per game, averaging 23.3 shots. That’s 1.35 pips per try. But thanks to the three-point revolution and changes to defense rules, collecting points from a distance will be easier for Michael. If we applied to Jordan the average performance of the top 10 scorers of the 2019-20 season (1.41 points per shot), we would have 23.3 attempts in the modern NBA that would bring in 32.9 points per game.
But Jordan has always been above average, and if we apply to our hypothetical Michael the same efficiency that Harden uses in attack (1.52 points per throw), those 23.3 throws will turn into 35.4 points per game. The Chicago star could have scored just as much in his prime if he played these days.
Perfect protection for the modern NBA
In the past few decades, the offensive has been revealed in the NBA. Now is the time to ‘pick and roll’ and ‘drive and kick’. Will Jordan be able to do well in the modern league while defending the ocean? Damn, yes.
In a league that leans increasingly toward backyards and attacks from the periphery, Jordan’s tenacity and influence on defense will be more valuable than it was at the height of his power. Remember, Michael was the best in the NBA three times at interceptions. In 1988, he was named Defensive Player of the Year and was a member of the defensive first team of the season nine times.
Of course, against the modern backdrop, Jordan will lose a little dexterity, but his quick legs and balance will allow him to effectively face the best dribblers of the caliber of Kerry Irving or Stephen Curry. Additionally, its size and arm extension would allow Jordan to easily intercept Paul George’s equipment.
It’s interesting to imagine how Jordan will face the best playmakers and defenders in defence. Can Harden beat him at the top of the arc? Can Klay Thompson escape Jordan with the help of a curtain and a triple pointer throw? Could LeBron Overtake Michael on a Quick Break? Can Durant neutralize MJ’s protection with his trademark jacket?
Jordan could chase Carrie or Thompson through the curtain the way he did against Reggie Miller. Michael could also hold back Kavaya Leonard, as he did with Clyde Drexler. Yes, he might have issues with Durant, but who’s going to have them?
If we talk about Jordan’s defensive weakness, it is size and strength. Michael ran into problems when he tried to keep Magic Johnson in the first two games of the 1991 final. This streak would have gone differently if Jordan and Bulls didn’t have Scottie Pippen.
Jordan was a great defender not only because he was able to lock down any star. He was great because he could make life difficult for even the best playmakers and defenders in the world. Now there is no manager in the league who wouldn’t want to have a 198cm defender with the speed, level of decision-making and work ethic that Jordan has.
This is not reflected in the stats, but what ultimately shows that Jordan will thrive in any era is its competitiveness. When we watch “The Last Dance” we see how the fire in Michael’s eyes is always tense to the extreme.
Just go back to that epic finish in Salt Lake City in Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals. After losing ‘-3’ with 40 seconds left, Jordan first made a productive pass under the ring, then in the other half of the field stole Karl. Malone finished off Utah with a famous crossover against Bryon Russell and an accurate middle distance throw.
From his NCAA victory over Georgetown in 1982 to his victory over Utah 16 years later, Jordan has always been the best player at the end of the season, at the end of the series, and at the end of the game.
Jordan didn’t just dominate professional basketball in the ’90s – he broke the principles that had guided the league for decades, shifting the focus from top men to defenders. Don’t ask if MJ can compete with today’s elite defenders. was their ancestor. With an unprecedented combination of physical talent, competitive spirit and skill, Michael changed the philosophy of basketball.
The NBA is a league of followers, but Michael Jordan was not involved in plagiarism. He wrote his own book.