How James Harden's game shows Michael Jordan would be even better in today's NBA

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Chase Hughes
·3 min read
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'The Last Dance' documentary has sparked all sorts of debates about Michael Jordan and his greatness and one of them has been how he would fare in today's NBA.

Jordan dominated the league across multiple eras, most notably in the 1990s when he won six championships. But the game is different now decades later, the players are more athletic and in many cases more skilled as well.

Wizards guard John Wall and Jordan's former agent David Falk both said Jordan would score many more points than he did during his career, if he played now. And former Bulls GM Rod Thorn, who was the one who drafted Jordan, believes the same to a certain extent.

The Hall of Famer and current Wizards consultant joined the Wizards Talk podcast and explained to Chris Miller and Quinton Mayo why he thinks Jordan would have put up even better numbers nowadays.

"When Jordan played, the game was a halfcourt game. Teams were taking somewhere between 76 and 82 shots a game. It was a very physical game. You could hand-check, you could chuck guys and if you drove, somebody would turn you upside down. You don't have that today. With wing players, you still have a lot of contact in the post. But nobody plays in the post anymore," Thorn said. 

"So, if you took him into today, he averaged [8.2] free throws a game during his career. If he played today, the way the game is called, he would have shot on par with James Harden who takes [11.8] free throws a game. He would have been on that par. The thing about Jordan is Jordan could really drive the ball. He quit doing it after a time because his health might not have lasted. But he would have averaged more points today during his prime than he did then. He would have been every bit as good today as he was then."

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That is a more measured approach than Wall and Falk, who may have exaggerated a bit on the numbers especially Falk who said Jordan would average 50 to 60 points. What Thorn is arguing is that Jordan would average a few more points per game if he played today simply because he would go to the free throw line more often.

If that's the only difference, Harden would likely be competing with Jordan for scoring titles, as he makes more threes. Jordan, though, would still be the much better player because of his defense, and if his playoff success translated.

Still, it's food for thought. Thorn has clearly thought in detail about what Jordan would look like if he were in his prime today.

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How James Harden's game shows Michael Jordan would be even better in today's NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington