Michael Jordan's 10 best Bulls teammates of all time
Michael Jordan racked up six NBA titles over a long and successful career, and despite his individual dominance, he wouldn't have won as much as he did without the help of countless great teammates. For all of MJ's six titles, Phil Jackson was the head coach, pulling the strings and pressing the right buttons to maximum performance out of a constantly changing array of personalities.
With the triangle offense and newly drafted teammates Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, the Bulls took off to great success in the late '80s. The ideal player types to play next to MJ became clear, and again, despite the idea of MJ as a scorer rather than a playmaker, he helped make a large collection of shooters, rim-runners, and savvy veterans money with their positive performances next to him.
While the top of the list wasn't too tough to put together, the list as a whole was no easy task. Here are Michael Jordan's top 10 teammates from his time with the Bulls.
10. Stacey King (1989-93)
The world's favorite color commentator was once a Bulls top-10 draft pick, with his rookie year being the 1989-90 season. King was an important big man on the early Bulls title teams, bringing a great ability to gobble up offensive and defensive boards while providing solid rim protection. The 6-foot-11 King was named to the 1989-90 All-Rookie second team with the likes of Sean Elliot and Glen Rice. King was lower on the rotation totem pole in the postseason as his offensive efficiency took a huge hit over time.
Nevertheless, Stacey started his Bulls career strong, and despite not playing as much as he would've liked, he was still was a solid contributor on three NBA title-winning teams.
9. Orlando Woolridge (1984-86)
Orlando Woolridge was MJ's teammate for his first two seasons in the league and served as the first true high-flyer to play next to "His Airness." In MJ's rookie year, Woolridge averaged 22.9 points game, usually scoring through a combination of ferocious dunks and a solid midrange game.
Woolridge and MJ were expected to be the athletic duo that he and Scottie Pippen eventually turned out to be. Though Woolridge and MJ didn't soar to great heights together, their Eastern Conference first-round showdown with the Boston Celtics in 1986 will forever be remembered. This was the series in which MJ had his incredible 63-point playoff game. During that series, Woolridge averaged 21.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on a less impressive 40.3% shooting. He may not have been overwhelming during his time in Chicago, but Woolridge was a solid and physical wing who helped MJ have a (somewhat) seamless transition to the pro game on the floor.
8. John Paxson (1985-93)
Before John Paxson was a Bulls executive, he was a knockdown 3-point shooter at a time when that type of player was very, very scarce. Paxson was a first-round pick in 1983 and went on to score 7.6 points per game while hitting 36.3% of his shots from 3-point range over nine seasons in Chicago.
In terms of the postseason, Paxson is most remembered for his game-winning shot in the 1993 NBA Finals, but he was quite productive outside of that singular moment. The 6-foot-2 guard knocked down 38.1% of his 3-pointers in 114 playoff games next to MJ.
7. Steve Kerr (1995-98)
Steve Kerr joined the Bulls for the 1993-94 season but didn't play with Michael Jordan until MJ's comeback in the 1994-95 season. Kerr was a knockdown shooter similar to the players above and below him — the only difference being that Kerr has a legit claim to being the most accurate shooter of all time. Kerr hit a remarkable 47.9% of his 3-point shots as a member of the Bulls and 38.6% over five different postseasons with Chicago.
He gained MJ's trust over several seasons, leading to Kerr's game-winning shot in the 1997 NBA Finals.
6. B.J. Armstrong (1989-93, 1995)
B.J. Armstrong is the highest-rated of our sharp-shooting trio, though his lone All-Star season came in a Michael Jordan-less 1993-94 campaign. Armstrong spaced the floor like the guards below him on the list but brought a little bit more to the table in terms of finishing at the rim.
Armstrong was a part of the Bulls' first three title teams and started all 19 games next to MJ in the 1992-93 postseason. In '93 Armstrong was the Bulls' fourth-leading scorer in the playoffs, averaging 11.4 points per game on 52.4% shooting.
5. Toni Kukoc (1995-98)
Toni Kukoc was a skilled shooter, but as detailed in Episode 7 of "The Last Dance," he was a big-time clutch scorer as well. Kukoc scored 14.1 points per game over seven seasons with the Bulls and provided great floor spacing in the playoffs.
Over five postseasons, Kukoc averaged 10.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. In the 1997-98 "Last Dance" season, Kukoc averaged 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists, and he shot 37.7% from the 3-point line.
4. Ron Harper (1995-98)
Ron Harper, as shown in "The Last Dance," was an athletic swingman who was considered "next up" to some degree in the late '80s as Michael Jordan started his reign as the league's true alpha. By the time Harper got to the Bulls ahead of the 1994-95 season, he had lost a decent chunk of his athleticism but was peaking in terms of his basketball IQ and defensive skills.
Harper functioned as the perfect big lead guard next to MJ and Scottie Pippen over the second three-peat. Harper averaged a modest 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game during his four playoff runs in Chicago. Though the counting stats don't look impressive, his advanced stats showcase his huge impact on the game. In the 1995-96 playoffs, Harper posted a 116 offensive rating and a 99 defensive rating as the Bulls went 15-3, capturing the '96 title.
3. Horace Grant (1987-93)
Horace Grant was a central piece during the Bulls' first three-peat. He made only one All-Star team, in 1994, but those Bulls teams needed Grant's production inside. Along with his rebounding proficiency and solid midrange jumper, Grant provided a solid dose of rim protection from the four.
Grant's size and athleticism was necesary for Chicago to knock off the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks per game in the Bulls' five-game NBA Finals victory.
2. Dennis Rodman (1995-98)
Dennis Rodman was clearly going to be in the top-three on this list and it felt right to have him at No. 2. Rodman spent only three seasons as Michael Jordan's teammate but played dominating basketball in each of those seasons.
Rodman helped those Bulls teams function at a ridiculously high-level with his almost obsessive, singular focus on defense and rebounding. In the 1995-96 playoffs, The Worm averaged 7.5 points and 13.7 rebounds and helped the Bulls deal with the likes of Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal and Shawn Kemp on their way to their fourth NBA title.
1. Scottie Pippen (1987-93, 1995-98)
Scottie Pippen is without a doubt the best player Michael Jordan has ever played with. Pip is a Hall-of-Famer and in 1996 was a part of the NBA's "50 Greatest Players in NBA History" list, though he was still an active player.
Pippen was a dominant playmaking forward on offense and a suffocatinng one-on-one and team defender, literally the perfect complement to MJ in every way. The 1991 NBA Finals were Pippen's coming out party, as he averaged 20.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He was a primary factor in slowing down Magic Johnson and aiding MJ in winning his first NBA title. Jordan was obviously a dominant force who was going to win championships at some point in his career, but if the Bulls don't acquire Pippen in 1987, MJ's legacy looks very, very different.