What Position Did Michael Jordan Play? The 3 Positions He Played From High School To The Pros

What position did Michael Jordan play on the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards?

Most basketball fans will never need to ask, “What position did Michael Jordan play?” as Jordan is widely known as the greatest basketball player of all time at the shooting guard position. Starring almost exclusively at shooting guard for most of his high school, collegiate, and professional career, Jordan switched to small forward during his 2-year comeback out of retirement with the Washington Wizards. Jordan helped to popularize the shooting guard position at a time in the NBA when other positions such as center and point guard were considered more valuable.

1. High School and Collegiate Career At Shooting Guard

Michael Jordan attended Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jordan tried out for the high school varsity team his sophomore year. Unfortunately, he was cut during tryouts.

Jordan’s coach viewed his 5’11” height as a liability. So he opted to choose Jordan’s friend Leroy Smith Jr. The much taller and the only sophomore to make the varsity team.

Jordan was relegated to the junior varsity team but would train rigorously over the following season to improve his game. After growing 4 inches over the summer, the 6’3″ Jordan would make the varsity team his junior year. Jordan would proceed to average nearly 26 PPG at the shooting guard position over the next 2 seasons.

Jordan attended the University of North Carolina, where he would again star at shooting guard for 3 seasons. He was overshadowed his freshmen year by fellow teammates James Worthy and Sam Perkins. But Jordan still played a major role in the team’s championship run.

Jordan hit one of the most memorable shots of his career during the 1982 National Championship. A 16-foot jump shot from the wing that ended up being the game-winning shot against Georgetown. Jordan was named to the Consensus All-America 1st Team his sophomore and junior seasons and was named the winner of both the Naismith and Wooden awards his junior year.

What position did Michael Jordan play in the NBA?: MJ’ s Professional Career – Bulls (1984-1993, 1995-1998)

After being drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, Jordan quickly established himself as one of the best players in the NBA. Although the NBA had many successful shooting guards in its history up until Jordan, such as George Gervin, Hal Greer, Earl Monroe, and Pete Maravich, the position had been relegated to 2nd-tier status compared to other positions. Jordan breathed new life into the shooting guard position, showcasing how effective it could be to a team’s success when played at a high level.

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2. Jordan’s Brief Stint as a Point Guard – 1989

One of the least known facts about Michael Jordan is that he was moved to the point guard position toward the end of the 1988-1989 regular season. It was an experiment by head coach Doug Collins. Jordan had expressed frustration over point guard Sam Vincent’s struggles that season and was looking for a change to jumpstart the offense.

Collins would end up moving Jordan to point guard slot for a total of 11 games that season. During that stretch Jordan would record seven straight triple doubles. Jordan would proceed to average an impressive 33.6 PPG, 11.4 APG, and 10.8 RPG during those games. Despite his great individual success as a point guard, the Bulls would amass a disappointing 5-6 record during that span and would move him back to shooting guard.

Duel Of The NBA’s Best Shooting Guards – 1992 NBA Finals

Although his greatness was acknowledged from the beginning of his career, it wasn’t until Jordan began winning multiple championships that people admitted he was the best player in the NBA. One of the final hurdles Jordan had to overcome to be crowned as the unquestioned best player in the NBA was the 1992 NBA Finals against Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Drexler had been drafted the year before Jordan. He also established himself as the 2nd best shooting guard in the league behind Jordan. The 1992 NBA Finals were viewed as a showdown between the league’s 2 best shooting guards.

In contrast to current NBA matchups, the best players rarely match up against each other. Even if they play the same position. Jordan and Drexler would end up guarding each other for much of the series.

Many analysts pointed out how much more prevalent of an outside shooter Drexler was than Jordan, with Jordan responding that his decision to not take as many 3-point shots was a voluntary decision. In game 1 of the series, Jordan put on one of the most legendary performances of his career, scoring 35 points in the first half, including 6 3-point field goals.

Jordan would average 35.8 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.7 SPG. Jordan shot 52.6% from the field, 42.9% from 3-point range, and 89.1% from the free throw line.

Drexler was able to average 24.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG, which were solid totals in their own right. However, Drexler shot a disappointing 40.7% from the field and an anemic 15% from 3-point range, hitting only 3 shots from beyond the arc the entire series. The Bulls would end up winning the series in 6 games, their 2nd of six titles during the 1990s.

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3. Michael Jordan’s Comeback As The Wizards’ Small Forward (2001-2003)

After retiring from the Chicago Bulls after the 1997-1998 NBA season, Jordan would briefly return as a member of the Washington Wizards for 2 seasons. Jordan would switch to the small forward position with the Wizards for two primary reasons.

First, matching up with point guards and shooting guards would be too strenuous for Jordan. He was 38 years old when he re-entered the NBA. Jordan would be better served playing against small forwards. At that time in the NBA, small forwards rarely possessed the speed and quickness of guards.

Second, the Wizards already had a good, young shooting guard in first Richard Hamilton and then Jerry Stackhouse, whom they wanted to keep at their primary position. Although the Wizards missed the playoffs in both seasons that Jordan spent with them, they did improve overall as a team.

So what position did Michael Jordan play in basketball? Michael Jordan is without a doubt the best shooting guard in NBA history, as well as the best basketball player of all time. Jordan made the shooting guard position arguably the most popular position in basketball.

How seasons did Michael Jordan play? Over his legendary 15 year professional career, Jordan averaged 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 2.3 SPG. He was a 6 time NBA Champion, 14-time all-star, made the All-NBA 1st Team 10 times, won 5 NBA regular season MVPs, and won 6 NBA Finals MVPs. Plus he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.