- Bruce Blitz June 12, 2010 4:30am CT additional quotes added October 17, 2010 8:30pm CT
Before we even get to the part where I give my opinion, why don't you all take a moment to soak in the thoughts of these experts:
During a 2007 L.A. Lakers pre-season broadcast, Phil Jackson was asked how he thought Michael Jordan would perform today, Phil said: "Michael would average 45 with these rules."
Tim Grover, who has trained Kobe, Lebron, and Jordan, was asked who would win a 1-on-1 battle of Jordan vs. either of the other two:
Tim Grover: "Oh, Michael. No question. From a physical and mental standpoint, he's the best I've ever seen. If he were playing now, with the way the refs call everything, and with all the padding these guys wear, he'd average 40 or 50 a night if he wanted."
MJ also says due to defensive rule changes like hand checking, if he played in today's NBA, dropping triple digits would be reachable for him. “It's less physical and the rules have changed, obviously." says Jordan. “Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I'm pretty sure I would have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points.”
"You can't even touch a guy now," says Charlotte coach Larry Brown. "The college game is much more physical than our game. I always tease Michael [Jordan], if he played today, he'd average 50."
“The history book inspires them to be some of the best,” said Jordan. “Rules have changed to help them. I could have averaged 50 points today!”
Question for Clyde Drexler:
"In the current league where there is no hand checking and no ruff play how much better would your numbers be?"
Clyde Drexler: "Oh, tremendously better, from shooting percentage to points per game everything would be up, and our old teams would score a lot more points, and that is saying something because we could score a lot back then. I do think there should be an asterisk next to some of these scoring leaders, because it is much different trying to score with a forearm in your face. It is harder to score with that resistance. You had to turn your back on guys defending you back in the day with all the hand checking that was going on. For guys who penetrate these days, it's hunting season. Yes, now you can play (floating)zone(legally), but teams rarely do."
"The defensive rules, the hand checking, the ability to make contact on a guy in certain areas .... [have] all been taken away from the game. If Kobe could get 81, I think Michael could get 100 in today's game."- Scottie Pippen January 2006
Craig Hodges is the Lakers shooting coach, get a look at what he said:
Q: "If you could take one player in their prime, would you take Michael Jordan or Kobe?"
A: "M.J., all day. There's no comparison. M.J. could score 100 points in this era. You can't hand-check now. Imagine that trying to guard M.J. It would be crazy."
Hall of Famer Rick Barry, a keen observer of the game, said he would love to see players of the past getting to attack the basket under the new officiating. “They’d score a lot more,” he said.
Tex Winter said. "Players today can get to the basket individually much easier."
Asked if he could defend Jordan under today’s interpretation of the rules, Dumars first laughed, “It would have been virtually impossible to defend Michael Jordan based on the way the game’s being called right now.”
Michael Jordan averaged 8 free throws per game for his career, Wade has averaged 10 free throws per game since the rules changes. Jordan was a better slasher to the basket, no defense would be able to contain MJ to the perimeter under today's rules, so I say Jordan would get 14 free throws per game under today's rules. He would attack the basket like a mad man, similar to what he attempted to do when he was in his prime, although he took a literal beating doing it under the old rules, and playing against the tough players of his era.
So as an 84% shooter from the free throw line, Jordan would average 12 points per game from the line today.
Under today's rules, prime Jordan would be able to get off outside shots easier, because when you could body up perimeter players you had to turn your back to the defender to start a play. In this day and age Jordan would be able to start a play face up, which would make it easier for him to make that lighting quick first step, or get off one of his silky smooth jumpers.
Taking into consideration the fact that the defensive intensity today is much lower, and taking into consideration that a player like LeBron is able to shoot right around 50% from the floor, with a jumper that's less consistent than Jordan's was, it's highly probable that Jordan could shoot 58% from the floor in this era. Now remember, Jordan's best season shooting from the floor was 54%.
So Michael Jordan's coach would soon see that defenses have no answer for his drive to the basket, his ability to get open shots coming off screens, his ability to slice up zone defenses by finding holes in them working without the ball and getting open shots, his ability to cut to the basket without the ball right down the middle of the lane, and the defense's inability to seal off his penetration with serious contact or a big man camping out in the lane, and most coaches would run so many plays for Jordan he would literally get 30 shots per game today.
From 87-88 to 91-92 Jordan made 53% of his shots.
In Jordan's 37ppg season he took 28 shots per game.
So, Jordan at 30 shots per game, making 58% of his shots, and making 2 3 pointers per game would average 35 points per game from the floor. You add in his 12 made free throws per game and that right there is proof that he would average 47 points per game minimal. He would have a realistic shot at cracking Wilt Chamberlain's 50ppg season.
So for Jordan to average 47ppg in this era, he would take 2 more shots per game than he did in his highest scoring year, and shoot 5% higher from the floor than he did from 1987-1992. Tell me that isn't 100% plausible. If Dwyane Wade can put up a performance like he did in the 2006 Finals, and average 30ppg to win a scoring title, believe me, Jordan would make Wade look like a college player in comparison.
(Jordan takes 2 more shots than he did in his 37ppg season, which would mean he takes 30, Jordan gets 12 free throws per game attacking the rim)
30 shots, start by multiplying 30 shots by 2 points, that equals 60, now you figure he would hit 2 threes per game considering the style of today's coaching, so that makes 62 possible points on those 30 shots.... so you take 62 and multiply it by .58 and you get 35.96 points per game from the floor, now add in his 12 made free throws per game, that gives you 47.96.... I rounded down to be fair, even though I see him getting 50ppg in this era personally. As you read earlier in the article, many experts agree with me.
In closing, Jordan averaged 30.12 points per game in the regular season for his career, 33.45 points per game in the playoffs for his career, look at the players who have averaged 29 points per game or higher since the rules changes:
2004-2005: Allen Iverson-PHI 30.7
2005-2006: Kobe Bryant-LAL 35.4, Allen Iverson-PHI 33.0, LeBron James-CLE 31.4, Gilbert Arenas-WAS 29.3
2006-2007: Kobe Bryant-LAL 31.6, Carmelo Anthony-DEN 28.9
2007-2008: LeBron James-CLE 30.0
2008-2009: Dwyane Wade-MIA 30.2
2005-2006 was the worst year in NBA history as far as defending perimeter players is concerned:
There were 11 perimeter oriented players who scored 24 points per game or higher...
Points Per Game Leaders
1. Kobe Bryant-LAL
2. Allen Iverson-PHI
3. LeBron James-CLE
4. Gilbert Arenas-WAS
5. Dwyane Wade-MIA
6. Paul Pierce-BOS
7. Dirk Nowitzki-DAL
8. Carmelo Anthony-DEN
9. Michael Redd-MIL
10. Ray Allen-SEA
11. Vince Carter-NJN
Jordan would destroy this era!!