The 90’s Bulls would lose to the best of the modern day NBA teams. The Bulls, or any of the great early/mid 90’s teams, would have never seen anything remotely like the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets and would have absolutely no idea how to defend, or even play on the same court, as these great modern day teams. Guarding people doing this:
Is a skill that must be learned and cannot be learned overnight. To consistently defend beyond the three point line is one of the most difficult and taxing asks of any NBA player. Players who are not used to this, no matter who they are, would have little to no shot of succeeding. It is a different game, a game that would be nearly impossible to adapt to if you were from a different era. Now listen, I am not saying that Michael Jordan could not play, or even be an all-NBA player, in today’s NBA, of course that is not true. But what I am saying is, if a player who looked like this:
rolled up to Oracle and saw a 6’11” man do this:
He would have thought aliens landed from a distant planet.
A Bukakee of Three’s by the Numbers:
Let’s compare some baseline statistics of the 1992-1993 NBA season versus the 2017-2018 season.
NBA leader in three pointers attempted per game in 1993: Milwaukee Bucks, 12.3 attempts
NBA leader in three pointers attempted per game in 2018: Houston Rockets, 42.5 attempts
Milwaukee Bucks per game three point percentage: .369
Houston Rockets per game three point percentage: .364
The Houston Rockets took nearly four times the three pointers that the NBA leader from 1993 did, and shot effectively the same percentage. Considering that if you are only taking 12 threes per game, the majority of those attempts are more than likely open, or uncontested shots. Modern day NBA shooters are, I’m going to go there, pretty fucking good.
League-wide three pointers attempted per game in 1993: 7.6 attempts
League-wide three pointers attempted per game in 2018: 28.8 attempts
League-wide per game three point percentage in 1993: .331
League-wide per game three point percentage in 2018: .361
Quadruple the attempts, a higher percentage. The same sentiment from above works here. This shows, point blank, that modern day NBA players are more than marginally better shooters than NBA players of the past, they are completely different players.
Chicago Bulls three pointers attempted in 1993: 685
James Harden three pointers attempted in 2017: 756
The Chicago Bulls were about league-average when it comes to three pointers attempted throughout their run, for comparison, James Harden took more threes in 2017 than their entire team in 1993, wild stuff.
Let’s take a look at the Finals from 1993 vs the Finals from last year
1993 NBA Finals three pointers made in a 6-game series by both teams (Blazers/Bulls): 35
2017 NBA Finals three pointers made in a 5-game series by both teams (Cavs/Warriors): 137
One less game, one-hundred more three’s made. Well, did the percentage go up, Eric. Funny you ask, well yes, yes it did.
1993 NBA Finals total three pointer percentage by both teams: .299
2017 NBA Finals total three pointer percentage by both teams: .381
If you’re not getting the gist, see below.
1993 Portland Trail Blazers total three pointers made throughout the NBA finals (a 6-game series): 10
2017 JR Smith total three pointers made in a 5-game series: 18
I think, via these statistics, the point is made that the style of play is completely different in the league today than it was in the early 90’s. Anybody who knows anything about the NBA knows that to be true. Although I think the above numbers show just how much its changed, this point is not a new one. However, the interesting question is which style would prevail in a series against one another. The question isn’t which is better, but rather which would succeed versus the other.
In my opinion, it would be significanly easier for the likes of Golden State Warriors to successfully adapt to playing the Chicago Bulls than vice-versa. This version of Golden State Warriors has seen teams like the Chicago Bulls, the same cannot be said for the Chicago Bulls: In 2014-2015 season (the year you would say the Warriors became the Warriors), the league low in three pointers attempted per game was 14.9 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 1997-1998 season (the last year the Bulls won it all) they attempted 11.7 three pointers per game. Although still lower than the bottom of the NBA today, the number of three pointers the Bulls were taking per game at least resembled some part of the modern NBA. In contrast, the league leader in 1998 in three pointers attempted per game was a .500 Houston Rockets team, sitting at 20.4. Whereas, the 2015-2016 Warriors attempted 31.6 three per game, oh, and they made 41% of them (the 1998 Rockets only made 34%).
The sheer volume, coupled with efficiency, would be completely and utterly foreign to the 90’s Chicago Bulls. Furthermore, to my above point, guarding in space, specifically beyond the three point line is a skill. I’m not suggesting that teams in the 90’s were just letting teams hoist up any open shot they got, but what I am saying is that modern day shooters would have a field day against competition that was not used to guarding their style of play. Because of this, it is my firm belief, that the great modern day NBA teams would easily beat the 90’s Chicago Bulls.
Don’t @ me.