Much has been made of the end of “The Last Dance” documentary that featured the great Micahel Jordan’s career, from start to finish. Clearly, he is widely regarded as the best player of all-time and his success in the post-season cannot be denied. MJ was truly as close to perfect as you can get on the basketball court, and his dedication and desire to winning were truly one-of-a-kind.
But his insane drive to success may have rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way, especially players who were not as talented as him or were not as driven as he was. While they cannot deny that MJ won at all costs, they probably would not want to go back in time to play with him. However, this might not be the case for Jordan’s number two man, Scottie Pippen.
Pippen had tremendous success alongside MJ, as they won 6 NBA titles together and Pippen became arguably a top-two player in the game when playing next to Michael. They also complimented each other’s games, as Pippen was a primary playmaker on offense while MJ was the primary scorer. They were also lethal defensively, and their defensive efforts gifted them multiple NBA titles and plenty of historic moments.
This begs the question. Which current NBA superstars would fit next to Jordan best, and become the modern-day Scottie Pippen? While there are clearly some superstars who would love to play with Jordan and win championships, some other superstars probably would prefer not to play alongside Jordan even if it means having success as the number two man on the team.
Here are the best and worst teammates for Michael Jordan in today’s NBA.
James Harden would not be a good fit with MJ and that is very obvious. James wants to be the primary shooter and ball-handler on the floor and does not want to have to worry about the best player in the game who plays the same position as him. MJ wants to take all the shots, and Harden wants the ball all the time.
While James has gotten along with Russ and Paul, these guys mainly point guards and have no problem distributing the rock. MJ would not want to stand around while Harden goes one on one, but it would be fun to watch them both go off for 30 or 40 points a night.
Overall, Harden’s ball-dominant style of play paired with his poor defense would not sit well with MJ.
Russ has been the second option for most of his career, with the likes of Kevin Durant and James Harden leading the charge. Even Paul George became the number one option on the team with the Thunder.
But MJ is on another level. He commands all the attention, takes all the shots, and wants the ball all the time. Playing alongside a ball-dominant scorer would not end too well, even though they probably would still win NBA titles. While Russ and MJ have a similar drive to dominate any game, MJ would not want Russ dictating the plays and handling the ball too much.
Pippen deferred and was a primary playmaker, and Russ would always need to score his points to make this work. It is best if Jordan’s sidekick was not Russell Westbrook.
Kyrie is a primary scorer, and that is without a doubt. Even when playing next to an all-time great in LeBron James, Kyrie was the man who took the big shots and scored the ball consistently. If he was to play with MJ, Kyrie won’t like being the secondary scorer of the team.
Kyrie is ultra-talented and a bonafide superstar at scoring the ball, but he is no MJ. Jordan is bigger, more efficient, and finds it easier to score at will. MJ will not fit well with a ball-dominant point guard who wants to score every time rather than assist.
Kyrie and LeBron complemented each other, much like MJ and LeBron would. But MJ and Kyrie would not be a match made in heaven by any means.
Kevin Durant is one of the best players in NBA history, thanks to his length and scoring ability. But he would not mesh well with Michael Jordan.
KD is a near-perfect player, but his few flaws can be very apparent. For one, KD is extremely sensitive. I doubt there has ever been a player more sensitive to criticism than Durant, which would be a disaster when playing next to MJ. If they were teammates, MJ would praise KD’s ability on the floor, but also take shots at his shy demeanor. KD would not respond too well to that, as MJ is known for getting a rise out of his teammates on a consistent basis.
KD would be a dream fit for most NBA players, but certainly not Michael Jordan.
Last but not least, Joel Embiid would not be a very good fit for Michael Jordan. MJ never played with a dominant big man before, so Embiid would give him exactly that. But Embiid would also give Jordan injury problems to worry about, not to mention an outward personality that translates on and off the court.
Embiid is a superstar when at the top of his game and could certainly be a great player alongside MJ. But he also likes to have the ball a lot and makes it known to everyone when he is not being fed the ball. MJ wants to take every single shot, and Embiid will not want to clog the lane for Michael especially when he isn’t getting his own touches.
Embiid is also very goofy and playful off the court, something MJ would take shots at playfully or not. Embiid doesn’t like being attacked either, so it will probably be better if they don’t end up as teammates.
This is no surprise here, as Curry is one of the most unselfish players in NBA history. Curry’s willingness to sacrifice his own achievements for team success is very impressive, as we have recently seen when Kevin Durant joined the Warriors.
The Warriors were Curry’s team and there is no debate about that, even if KD won two straight Finals MVPs and two NBA titles as the main scorer and performer in the NBA Playoffs. Curry was there first, and he was the man who built the Dynasty, to begin with.
Curry would love playing alongside MJ, who would take all the attention and be the vocal leader in the locker room. Curry would just go about his business, draining shots from everywhere and being the number two man to win multiple NBA titles. This would be fun to watch.
Another no-brainer here, Kawhi Leonard would thrive alongside Michael Jordan. While Kawhi proved he can be the best player on a championship team last year with the Raptors, he also proved he can be a dominant force when he is alongside an Mt. Rushmore caliber player like Tim Duncan.
Kawhi is a very reserved and quiet person and would love it when MJ steals the spotlight every night. This would give Kawhi plenty of room to just play the game, be a defensive force, and take big shots. Kawhi would be the exact replacement for Pippen, although he is a better scorer. Kawhi and MJ would certainly win a few NBA titles together.
Jimmy Butler wants to be the man on a good team, and he made that clear by choosing the Heat over the likes of the Rockets and Sixers in free agency. But Jimmy Butler also wants to win at all costs and his work ethic and drive to being the best player he can be perfectly complemented by Michael Jordan.
Butler and MJ would get along like a house on fire since they both want to win at all costs and are not sensitive about it. Even if they were to argue and get into it in practice, it would elevate their games, and Butler would especially improve as a player.
Jimmy and MJ would dominate the game both offensively and defensively, and could possibly come close to re-creating the Pippen and MJ duo.
In case MJ needs a big man as his number two option, Jokic would be the best fit. He is a very talented player, even if he plays below the rim, and seems very humble and at peace with himself by playing the game he loves. The game comes naturally to Jokic, and his set of skills would complement MJ very well.
I doubt that anyone could get under the skin of Nikola Jokic, and MJ would only push him to be a better player. MJ can take all the shots, take all the attention, and be the primary clutch player while Jokic rebounds and moves the ball on offense.
The overall game of Jokic would complement MJ tremendously, and MJ would love a dominant big man who can command attention in the paint.
Last but certainly not least, LeBron James would be the ultimate partner for Michael Jordan. In fact, he is the best possibly sidekick for MJ in NBA history. That is not to say that LeBron can’t be the number one guy on the team, which clearly he can, but he would literally be…. Scottie Pippen on steroids.
James would be the primary playmaker, rebounder, and also do his work on defense while MJ takes all the shots and especially the big shots. LeBron thrives next to a primary scorer like Kyrie Irving or Dwyane Wade, and MJ is the best primary scorer in history.
MJ and Pippen won 6 NBA titles, so just imagine what MJ and LeBron would do together. All LeBron would have to worry about is doing what he does best on the court, and let MJ take the big shots.