Would Michael Jordan be better, worse or the same level of player he was during his reign of dominance over the NBA in the 1990s?
It's been a question since LeBron James vaulted himself into the G.O.A.T. conversation and it's evermore present now that The Last Dance documentary made a successful 10-episode run on ESPN.
Everyone has their take on the subject, and while some think Jordan would be just another guy today, people like John Wall believe he'd be even better than he was when he rattled off two separate three-peats.
"Imagine someone averaging 37 [points] when you're getting beat up, no [defensive] three seconds, hand checks," Wall said in an interview with 247 Sports. "Now, if you hit somebody like that you get suspended 10 games.
“Jordan’s averaging 45 and whatever else he wants,” he said. “You can’t touch nobody. You can’t hand-check. No hand-check, you playing 6’6 guys at center. The league is totally different. Like, I’m not knocking it, but if you can’t score right now and get a bucket one-on-one, you don’t belong in basketball."
From 1986 to 1998, Michael Jordan won the scoring title 10 times. The only two seasons he didn't in that span were 1993-94 and 1994-95. In '93, he was playing baseball and in '94 he returned to the Bulls late in the season, only playing in 17 games.
Jordan was unstoppable driving to the basket and he managed to get to the paint at will despite hand-checking and illegal defense rules not yet in effect like Wall mentioned. Flagrant foul rules were also much different in Jordan's era. Paint protectors could get away with a lot more physicality against dribble penetrators.
Under the league's current rules, it'd be practically impossible to keep Jordan out of the paint, opening up plenty of open threes for his supporting cast. So while it's more than likely Jordan would average a ton of points, maybe it's feasible he'd increase his assist totals.
Jordan did whatever it took to win, and if dishing to open snipers is the best way to do it, it'd be hard to imagine No. 23 not going all-in on that strategy.
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