Why Micheal Jordan Would Suck in Today’s NBA

Hello, my name is Kevin and I’m new to this whole blogging thing, so my brother and I could get our opinions out to the internet about basketball. Now that the introduction is out of the way let’s get to the topic on hand.

Why Michael Jordan wouldn’t be good in today’s NBA

I understand why this opinion is controversial because many people today call him the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, but I believe that if Michael Jordan were to be drafted into today’s current NBA his performance would not even be close to the level he was at when he played. Now, you may think that this claim is blasphemous, but there are many parts of his game that would not survive in the current NBA.

The number one reason is that he needs the ball too much in his hands to succeed. While most shooting guards today are able to move off ball and succeed while doing that,  that was something Jordan couldn’t do extremely well. Many players today have even earned All-Star game selections because of their ability to impact the game off-ball. One such player is Kyle Korver. This year he made the All-Star team mostly because of his ability to affect the game without the ball in his hands. On the other hand, Jordan  always had the ball in his hands, which is evidenced  by his 30% usage rate. Now 30% may not sound like a lot, but to put it in perspective around 1 out of every 3 of the team’s possessions would  involve Jordan, be it through passing, shooting, or rebounding. You might think, well if MJ always needed the ball then all the  top guards in today’s NBA must need the ball in order to be great then too, but you would be wrong. Many great players such as Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, and  Stephen Curry have never had their usage rate exceed 30%. To prove my point, I will give you each of the 3 players usage rate over their careers, and will also give you Jordan’s career usage rate. I will organize the names by  greatest usage rate to the lowest usage rate.

`Usage Rate over career

Michael Jordan: 33.3%

Stephen Curry: 25.8%

Damian Lillard: 25.3%

Chris Paul: 23.7%

The list shows how 3 of the top guards in the NBA are able to succeed without the ball in their hands at all times, and many teams now don’t like their guards to be ball dominant. Most teams prefer to have them able to move off-ball, and convert catch and shoot attempts, which all of these players are exceptional at. Chris Paul ,a player who is not well known for his catch and shoot abilities, had an effective field goal percentage off of spot up attempts of 60.8% which was higher than one of the best shooters in the game Klay Thompson. That was just one of the players whom I had mentioned earlier. Two more All-Star caliber guards who also fit this mold are Kyle Korver and Steph Curry, who are well known for their prowess on spot up shots. In order to prove this, I have provided graphs that show their percentage on these types of shots and their percentage.

favorites_576          – http://grantland.com/the-triangle/curry-korver-and-the-raiders-of-the-arc-a-3-point-contest-preview/

One major issue that Michael Jordan would face is his outdated play style. During his playing days the 3- point shot wasn’t very important, and the name of the game back then was the mid-range game. Nowadays almost every single team in the NBA likes to shoot 3’s. While that may be good for some players,it’s terrible for Michael Jordan because at every point of his career he was never a good 3-point shooter. Over his career he shot an abysmal 32% from behind the arc, and additionally,one of Jordan’s favorite shots, the mid-range jumper, is one of the most inefficient shots in basketball. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Sure Jordan wasn’t a good 3-point shooter,but his team will do just fine.” Well, you would be wrong, since your best player would use a third of your possessions and also would shoot the most inefficient shot in basketball. An example of this would be the 14-15 LA Lakers,whose star player was Kobe Bryant, a player whose play style is extremely similar to Michael Jordan’s, and that team was the one of the worst teams in the NBA as evidenced by their appalling 21-61 record in the regular season.

-Lakers record from  http://www.nba.com/standings/team_record_comparison/conferenceNew_Std_Cnf.html

My final reason of why Jordan wouldn’t be as good in the NBA today as he was in the 90’s, is that his defensive skills would result in a lot of fouls. The reason for that being is,in the 90’s and late 80’s things that would not even be categorized as fouls back then: are now technical fouls. An example of this is the hand checking rule. During that era it was a common occurrence to which the referees didn’t even pay attention to. Nowadays, if you did that, the referee would call a personal foul. If were to play now,he most likely would get in foul trouble early in the game and get benched early so he wouldn’t foul out. So in almost every game, he would be in foul trouble, and would not be able to play a lot of minutes during the game.

I gave my reasons, and I believe that I presented enough evidence to prove Jordan wouldn’t be great in the NBA today. I’m not trying to say Jordan sucks, all I am trying to say is he just wouldn’t be the greatest of all time if he played now.

-Usage Rate from http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/usg_pct_season.html

Effective Field Goal Percentage from http://www.clipsnation.com/2014/10/24/7043363/clippers-player-profile-chris-paul


One thought on “Why Micheal Jordan Would Suck in Today’s NBA”

  1. As much as the league is driven by analytics (i.e. the “greater efficiency” of threes), a player of Jordan’s caliber would dominate regardless. The argument about his usage rating is valid to an extent, but Jordan’s turnover percentage, the largest negative impact on usage, was far less than the players mentioned in comparison. What would maintain Jordan’s legitimacy would be his ability to draw fouls and get to the free throw line, with more than eight attempts per game for his career, which contributed to his respectable 56.9 “true shooting percentage.”

    Yes, he wasn’t great from deep, but as you said, that wasn’t a critical part of the game then. Jason Kidd was terrible from three at the start of his career (ten years after Jordan’s debut), but focused on improving due to the emerging significance of the shot and is currently fifth all-time in makes. Jordan was willing and capable of adaptation; look at his determination to become stronger after the Pistons battered him with their “Jordan rules” at the end of the 80’s.

    And as for the hand-checking rules, they were eliminated before the 1994-95 season. Jordan went on to be named as a member of the All-Defensive first team for the three seasons following the rule change before his second retirement. It’s certainly possible he may have gotten there by his reputation alone, but his efforts for the 1995-96 season netted the best defensive win shares of his career according to basketball-reference.com. The other two seasons were on par with his previous All-Defensive first team seasons with the hand-checking rules still intact.

    If you want to address the inefficiency of Jordan’s play style, heavy on isolation, I’m all for that, but he remains relevant today for two reasons: he was an iconic marketing persona and he was an overwhelmingly good basketball player whose influence remains even now. (The former being a result of the latter.)

    (Disclaimer: I’m actually not a fan of Jordan, reluctant to even consider him one of the five best players ever, but practical enough to know he belongs in that conversation.)


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