As we all get into watching "The Last Dance" -- and wow, if you haven't seen the first two episodes yet, I suggest you do that immediately (after you finish this article, of course) -- it seems like the perfect time to reflect on the amazing fantasy basketball career of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
Was Jordan, widely considered the best NBA player of all time, also the greatest ever in fantasy?
Did he have any peers during his era?
Has anyone sprung up in the era since to challenge his greatness?
We're going to explore all of that here, using box score analysis to measure his production compared to essentially every other elite player of the past 40 years.
If you played fantasy basketball during the Jordan era, you likely used a rotisserie (roto) format, where production in each category (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, FG%, FT%, 3s and possibly turnovers) is key and the best players are either dominant in multiple areas, particularly strong in difficult-to-get categories, and/or have no discernible weaknesses.
But in order to quantify MJ's value versus everyone across multiple decades, I'm going to use ESPN's points-league scoring to put everyone on the same page.
We'll go decade by decade, beginning with a quote from one of our fantasy NBA experts who played then on how he remembers Jordan's comparative roto value. Then I'll identify Jordan's peak season(s) and decade averages to compare them analytically to the best of his peers in each decade.
Ready to see if anyone could really be like Mike? Let's do it.
Jordan's peak season ('88-89): 32.5 PPG, 0.3 3PG, 53.8 FG%, 85.0 FT%, 8.0 RPG, 8.0 APG, 2.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 3.6 TO/G, 36.9 fantasy points per game (FPG)
Peak non-Jordan season: Larry Bird ('84-85): 28.7 PPG, 0.7 3PG, 52.2 FG%, 88.2 FT%, 10.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 3.1 TO/G, 34.3 FPG
Jordan's average for the decade (5 seasons, 345 games): 32.6 PPG, 0.2 3PG, 51.3 FG%, 84.8 FT%, 6.2 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 3.3 TO, 32.5 FPG
How ESPN Fantasy editor Keith Lipscomb remembers Jordan in the '80s