Jamison believes Michael Jordan could still play at 50

michael-jordoan-comeback-1Few people would argue that the NBA isn’t a place for 50-year-old men. The majority of successful players are in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and most pro ballers fade off in their mid-30’s.

But even with this being said, Los Angeles Lakers forward Antawn Jamison believes that Michael Jordan, who’s almost 50, could still play in the NBA. Jaimson told ESPN, “I wouldn’t doubt that in the right situation with a LeBron (James) on his team or with a Kobe (Bryant) on this team, he could get you about 10 or 11 points, come in and play 15-20 minutes. I wouldn’t doubt that at all, especially if he was in shape and injuries were prevented and things of that nature.”

Jamison added, “You hear stories still to this day, especially last year, him going to the practice facility and playing 1-on-1 with the guys and still they can’t stop him.”

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles LakersAges Ago

The last time Jordan played was when he donned a Washington Wizards uniform during the 2002-2003 NBA season. And he averaged 20.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.5 SPG while playing 37 minutes per game. Of course, this was a decade ago, and MJ was obviously not at his peak back in these days.

That said, it’s questionable as to whether or not Michael could really average double figures at his age. As we’ve alluded to several times already, the obvious roadblock is that Jordan is just a few days shy of 50. Plus he hasn’t played a regulation NBA game since 2003. However, there are also some things that MJ has going in his favor, which we’ll discuss next.

Favorable Rules

In his prime, Michael Jordan played basketball in an era where hand-checking and hard fouls were simply signatures of a good defensive team. And even in a day and age where physical defense was perfectly acceptable, “His Airness” upheld the highest career scoring average (30.12 PPG) in NBA history.

michael-jordoan-comebackContrast this to today’s game, where the rules are set up to encourage more scoring and less physical D. It’s hard to imagine how many points a young Jordan could’ve averaged in this offensive-friendly era.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that Michael hasn’t exactly let himself go like other former NBA stars – a la Charles Barkley. Jordan works out, plays golf regularly and even practices with the Charlotte Bobcats from time to time. And as Jamison mentioned, Michael does quite good in these practices too.

How would a Comeback Attempt go?

Practicing against the team you own once and a while, and surviving a grueling 82-game schedule are two different things – especially when you’re half a century old. And while Michael Jordan is largely considered the greatest basketball player ever, we’re not quite so sure that a comeback would be in his best interests.

He’d be relegated to a backup role, which would be a completely different and dissatisfying experience for Jordan. Plus there’s the whole matter of going against guys half his age on a regular basis. So all in all, we like Michael better in the Bobcats’ owners box over making a return to the court.

Are the L.A. Lakers even a Playoff Team?

Before the 2012-2013 NBA season opened, Metta World Peace made a bold prediction that the L.A. Lakers could go 73-9, thus beating the Chicago Bulls’ regular season record of 72-10. And while most people thought this was a difficult goal to reach, it didn’t seem impossible given that the Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to go along with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison and World Peace.

But here we are now 26 games into the regular season, and the Lakers have already missed out on this goal. In fact, L.A. is just 12-14 and sitting 12th in the Western Conference standings. Taking this into account, it’s worth asking whether or not the Lakers are even a playoff team by looking at their promising and not-so promising points.

The Good: A Big Missing Piece

We’re not going to argue that Los Angeles hasn’t underachieved because they’ve had Bryant, Howard and World Peace for the entire year. Gasol has also played in most of the team’s games, which, given these four stars, SHOULD be enough to be among the playoff teams.

However, one integral part has been missing from this club all year and that’s PG Steve Nash. He’s been out since October 31st with a leg fracture and hasn’t been there to orchestrate the offense. In his absence, L.A. has been trying to get by with a trio of Chris Duhon, Darius Morris and Steve Blake. The result: 12.8 PPG and 9.7 APG among three players.

While this is okay, Nash figures to do this – or more – by himself after returning from injury. Going further, the Lakers’ overall flow on offense should be much better with Nash back in the lineup.

The Bad: Gasol and Howard are struggling Together

In theory, the ‘Twin Towers’ setup always seems great because you’ve got two big men dominating the paint. But as history has often shown us, two excellent big men can hamper each other’s production. Such seems to be the case with Howard and Gasol since these two don’t work well off each other.

The thinking before the season was that Pau could play more forward while Howard would man the paint. However, Gasol has never been comfortable in the forward role and is shooting a dismal 41.4% – down from a career average of 51.8%. Now 41.4% might work if you’re a 6’2″ runner and gunner; but not when you’re a 7’0″ forward-center.

Howard is not innocent in the matter either because, while he’s shooting 57.6% from the field and averaging 18.1 PPG, there have been plenty of times where he’s completely disappeared on offense. That said, the Lakers have been transitioning to a gameplan where the two natural centers play in separate units, rather than together.

The Good: Stats are looking Nice

Another indication that L.A. could grab a playoff spot in the West involves their strong statistical performance. Despite being a sub-.500 team, the Lakers are sixth in points per game with a 102.08 average. Their defense hasn’t been quite as good since they’ve allowed 99.32 PPG, which ranks 21st in the league.

However, this is still a +2.76 differential, thus indicating the tide could later turn. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that have had a positive point differential are over 95% likely to make the playoffs. So this definitely bodes well for the Lakers’ postseason hopes.

The Bad: The West is Deep

We expect L.A. to improve as the season keeps moving along. But even with improvement, it’ll be no cakewalk to make the playoffs with how many solid teams are in the Western Conference – especially after starting 12-14.

Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Memphis and the L.A. Clippers are locks to make the playoffs with their talent and strong starts. That leaves four spots open, which are currently occupied by the youthful, but talented Golden State, Denver, Minnesota and Houston. Let’s also throw in the fact that Utah, Dallas and Portland are all ahead of the Lakers and figure to compete for playoff spots. Including the Lakers, this makes eight legitimate contenders for four postseason spots.

The Verdict?

Overall, the L.A. Lakers are easily more talented than every team chasing what we suspect are the last four playoff spots. And given that they’re playing without Steve Nash and are the only non-playoff team with a positive point differential, we believe the Lakers will get it together and at least make the playoffs.

One more point worth mentioning is that L.A. is only 1 1/2 games behind both Minnesota and Houston (currently seventh and eighth). Given that we’re only a quarter of the way through the season, expect the Lakers to make up this ground and grab anywhere from a fourth to eighth seed.