Alright so here it is. We tried to find an official list of all the “next Michael Jordans” around and could not find a complete list of all the players that have been considered candidates to be the next MJ. We found a bunch of old and outdated lists, and some sites that had players that were no where near becoming MJ listed as the next MJ. Was Hedo Turkoglo once named the “next MJ” by the media and we forgot about it? Don’t think so, or Stephon Marbury? Stephon Marbury was compared to a lot of guards like Kenny Anderson or Isiah Thomas, but MJ? We found a lot of random stuff in the process and decided to build the real list ourselves. So, here they are, and in no particular order, an official list of every player named “the next Michael Jordan”.
- Harold Miner- Harold Miner even looked like MJ with the bald head and baggy shorts. Even better was that he was a left-handed version of MJ. Nike even gave him a deal. Was a stud in high school and college and was even considered to be as good as Shaquille O’ Neal and Christian Laetner in the 1992 draft. If only he knew what to do when he didn’t have the ball in his hands. He never lived up to the hype averaging pretty low numbers from 1992 to 1996, partly due to injuries. He retired with an overall unremarkable career, other than winning 2 slam dunk titles in ’93 and ’95. The story goes he and his family live comfortably in Las Vegas, where he now is a realtor.
- Jerry Stackhouse- So Stackhouse was the same size as MJ, about the same weight as MJ, was Carolina’s player of the year in high school as MJ, went to UNC as MJ, played the same spot as MJ did, had similar athletic skills as MJ, jumped almost as high as MJ, had similar numbers as MJ at UNC and was even the third pick in the draft just like MJ. Its not difficult to see why fans and scouts said Stackhouse was the next MJ in 1994 and 1995. In the end, Stackhouse still had a pretty good NBA career, including being an All-Star a couple of times. When you compare the career numbers though versus the goat, they are no where comparable.
- Vince Carter- Another UNC guy with a monster vertical. Actually Vince’s vertical may have even surpassed the goat’s vertical leap. An explosive wing player, with more highlights than even the “Human Highlight Reel”, the only thing standing between MJ and VC was a more consistent jumper and 6 rings. VC may never be consider the goat basketball player, but many (including myself) would call VC the goat dunker, edging out MJ. VC will still find his place in the HoopHall when his time playing is over.
- Kobe Bryant- A whole book could be written about on the similarities between MJ and Kobe, and I really don’t want to write an entire book right now. Kobe wanted to BE Jordan. He even walked and talked the same way and even made similar facial expressions. Kobe knew MJ’s game inside out as well as his mannerisms. Then as he got older, he wanted to be BETTER than Jordan. Was Kobe close to being better than Jordan? That’s a tough one, and although Kobe ranks somewhere between Top-7 and Top-15 all time wherever you personally want to place him, he never did achieve that goat status. Of everyone who has ever been compared to MJ, MJ definitely respects Kobe and his achievements the most.
- Kyle Lee Watson- “Baby Jordan over there is trying to run the whole game”. Maybe his teammate compared him to Michael Jordan, but Kyle Lee Watson bricked a game winner and then ran over to the ref complaining about a foul, a foul which, if you watch the play again, was never committed. Very un-Jordan-like. Jordan also would have played in the shootout and destroyed his mother’s boyfriend, not the other way around.
- Len Bias- Bias was the very first of “Next Jordan” ever. During the draft of 1986, NBA talent scouts were describing the forward as part Jordan/part Barkley. Bias physically was really comparable to where Lebron has been. Bias has an amazing vertical, ran up the court like a guard and had the outside touch to match. As a senior at Maryland, it was as if Bias was improving with every game. Bias was the perfect piece to the 1987 Celtics and was everything they needed that year. Will most likely always be named as the ultimate what if of any basketball player in history.
- Grant Hill- If only Grant Hill didn’t have all those leg injuries, we could have really found out just how great he really was as a player. Who knows, he could have even ended up on the top 10 all time if he was injury-free. He could defend, handle the ball, shoot, penetrate, had a winning background in high school and college, had amazing leaping ability and was a scoring threat anywhere on the court. Sound like MJ traits? You still gotta give Grant props, he may never had lived up to the MJ hype, but still managed to have a long NBA career, amid all the injuries.
- Andrew Wiggins- Known as “Maple Jordan” on several online communities. Wiggins was being compared to MJ during his high school days for his athletic talents. Its no surprise that his father was a former professional and his mother was an Olympic athlete. After close examination of his game, the young Wiggins actually resembles a young Scottie Pippen than a young MJ. Wiggins, although gifted athletically and offensively has a lot of work to do on the defensive end before being seriously compared to either Pippen or Jordan. Just signed a big contract recently, it will interesting if this motivates him to become a better player or not.
- Deshawn Stevenson- Yeah that’s not a typo, Deshawn Stevenson was once compared to MJ before he was drafted by a very credible draft website. Deshawn was about the same size and weight as MJ was in playing days and also was a slam-dunk champion in high school, but their games and careers are night and day by comparison. Maybe had Deshawn gone to Kansas as originally planned and polished his game in the NCAA for a few years, the story would turn out differently. Who knows. Deshawn did win one ring in 2011 as a role player against the Heat, so that’s more than many of the other guys listed here can claim.
- Tamir Goodman- You guys are reading this like, “who the hell is Tamir Goodman?” For those of you who never heard the name, Tamir Johnson was a Jewish standout high school basketball player in Maryland in the late 1990s. The press caught on to this “Jewish Jordan” player and the media went wild. Named as one of the top 30 players in his high school class as a junior, Tamir even got his own full article in SI that year. The name was just a gimmick really, as even though Tamir was a standout player and a great shooter, his game had no resemblance to MJ.
Other Honorable Mentions:
Allen Iverson- A.I. has been compared to MJ because of Reebok’s attempt to compete with the Air Jordan. Outside of Shaq, whose shoes really died down in popularity after two or three seasons, it was A.I.’s shoes that were the next most popular shoes after the Air Jordan line. Reebok marketed Iverson’s first shoe (The Question) all over the world, which was a big deal for a rookie in 1996. A.I. otherwise was not similar in anything other in scoring, not personality, style or game.
J.R. Rider- J.R. Rider was compared to MJ by a few people after entering the NBA, but the majority of scouts didn’t see him that way. Given that in college he was a very high scoring wing who could jump higher than everyone else, the natural reaction was to compare him to MJ who did the same exact things. Since that high scoring didn’t translate to the NBA as was expected early on, the MJ comparisons stopped pretty quick.
Penny- Penny was originally hyped as the “Next Magic”, but after showing just how skilled he was as a scorer and someone with more than just great passing ability, the comparisons to MJ happened. MJ was not upset by the comparisons and always treated Penny with respect and had high hopes that Penny would be the NBA’s next great leader after he retired. Shaq left the Magic for LA and after that Penny’s leg started acting up and we all know what happened from there.
Roy Marble Junior- Yup, this guy here was once compared to Michael Jordan. Roy Marble Jr. Never heard of Roy Marble Junior? Well, neither had we. Back in the 1980s, while playing for the Iowa Hawkeye his two-way game and high scoring ability brought comparisons from his coaches and Hawkeye fans to a young Michael Jordan. Interesting tidbit to this one: he was drafted #23 in the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
Kendall Gill- We are old enough to remember Kendall Gill getting drafted, but don’t remember anyone calling him the next Jordan. The internet said he was called that, but we don’t remember it. Kendall was shorter than MJ, heavier than MJ, slower than MJ, could jump no where near as high as MJ and was worse in every single statistical category. So I am not really sure what genius came up with the comparison. Tough Nikes to fill.
Ron Mercer- True story: During the summer of ’99 Ron Mercer had been traded to the Denver Nuggets. During his first meeting with the coach/president Dan Issel, Mercer brought along his agent who was part of Master P’s No Limit Sports Management (now Issel didn’t know who Master P was or looked like, so it could have been P then with him that day or it could have been another No Limit agent, no one will ever know who it was). Dan Issel wasn’t ready to offer Mercer a full contract until seeing him play, and the No Limit agent said, “we believe Ron Mercer is the next Michael Jordan.”
Reggie Williams- For those of you who don’t know who Reggie Williams is, here is a quick history lesson: Reggie starred on the famed 1980’s Dunbar team which is considered to be the best high school team of all time, went to Georgetown and won a title with Patrick Ewing and was then drafted by the Clippers in the 1987 draft at pick #4. Donald Sterling, yes THAT Donald Sterling, was so impressed by Reggie after drafting him, that he told the media that he was “a Michael Jordan-type player”. Reggie wound up playing for 6 teams in 10 years, never having a Michael Jordan-type career.
Pete Myers- Who exactly is Pete Myers you ask? When MJ first retired in the offseason of 1993, the Bulls selected guard Pete Myers to take Jordan’s starting position. Myers had originally been drafted by the Bulls and then spent the next 7 years bouncing around NBA and CBA teams. The Bulls re-signed him in the ’93 offseason to take the role of starting shooting guard. The same height and just about the same weight of MJ those days, the only similarities between Myers and Jordan was that they both started at shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls in the early 90s. Myers gave it all that season averaging about 9 points per game, or 22 less than Jordan. Myers played the following season until MJ came back around in the spring.
Dwayne Wade- Another star who was compared to MJ after putting up amazing regular season averages. We wouldn’t really say his game is too similar to MJ, other than of course his shot block ability which is probably right behind MJ in the guard category. Dwayne, like MJ is a great individual defender and also has similar MJ-skills of attacking the basket and collecting fouls. A great overall career and three titles to show for it, just way short of the goat.
Stephen Curry- As Kenny Smith said, “he’s MJ without the dunks”. Steph’s game had heated up so much in the 2015-2016 season that he suddenly surpassed being compared to anyone in the top-20 all time and was all of sudden being compared to the goat. Not Jerry West. Not Isiah Thomas. Not Dr. J. Not Kobe or Lebron. Nope, he surpassed all of them and went right to the top of the list. One year he is a great all-star and the next year he is “MJ without the dunks”. Mr. Curry of course is slower than MJ, cannot jump as high as MJ, is not as strong as MJ, does not have that killer instinct that made MJ famous, does not play in the post like MJ did, is more of a team defender than a great individual player as MJ, and cannot fly the way MJ did. Curry, however, is a better shooter than MJ, a better passer, can handle the ball way better than Jordan ever did, and lead his team to a 73 win season. Curry may have had an amazing season two years, but MJ had those offensive numbers for about 8 or 9 years straight!
Kevin Durant- Everybody knows that MJ would have never joined the Bad Boys in 1990-91, after losing in a game 7 in Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. A finals which was followed up with a Pistons championship in Detriot. So its really really hard to compare Kevin Durant to Michael Jordan. Just like KD had an amazing player along side with him to battle, MJ had Pippen right in his corner, through thick and thin. So its hard to compare when KD left Westbrook stranded, and MJ stayed with Pippen until the end of 1998, a full 11 years together. But, KD’s scoring abilities, although different have gained comparisons to the goat. Some say Steph is the greatest scorer since MJ and some say KD is. The difference is Jordan stuck it out with the Bulls until the won. What if KD stuck it out in Oklahoma City, and he and Westbrook turned things around and they had been back-to-back champions? How about that ending?? Yup, we will never know….
Curtis Gates- Remember the movie Hoop Dreams? Remember William’s older out of shape brother that was working nights a security guard? Well, apparently in college, which was not a major school because his grades would stop him from going to a big school, Curtis used to light it up. In fact, he used to light it up so much, that Williams says in the movie, that people who say him play used to argue if he was better than Michael Jordan. We did some digging to find his college stats, and found out that at Colby Junior College in Kansas, that he averaged about 25 points a game, had a high of 46 points in one game and was also voted the school’s “player of the decade”. In the Hoops Dreams book, however, states that Curtis averaged 39 points a game in high school as a FRESHMAN on the varsity team. Is it true? Who knows.
Russell Westbrook- It just doesn’t get any better than having the goat himself say that you are a younger version of him. In 2016, that’s just what Michael said about Russell. Russell reminds him of a young MJ. Hungry, explosive and giving his all on every play. Russell is also a better rebounder and passer than a young MJ was. Its difficult to find many players that are as all around athletic as a young Michael was, but Westbrook is probably a match. MJ seems to respects Russell’s decision to stay with his current team, unlike someone else we have on the list.
Victor Oladipo- Yes, this is actually true, when Oladipo was in college playing for the Hooisers, some analysts compared his number’s to Jordan’s college numbers at UNC. Oladipo’s numbers at Indiana were quite similar to Jordan’s numbers at North Carolina, so some draft anyalsts said that he could be the steal of the draft (2013) and actually could be the next Michael Jordan. Oladipo has been a solid player thus far, four years into his career, the only difference is his professional stats are about half of what MJ’s were.
Lebron James- We have always hated the Lebron/MJ comparisons. Their games (and even though Lebron has always evolved in his career) have never really been too similar. Lebron is more Magic than MJ and Lebron has been a better passer than MJ ever was since day 1. Their numbers (except for rebounding and free throw percentage) are overall pretty close, but Lebron has always had his own style of play. Now they are compared of course, because Lebron has always been compared to the all time greats and in many fan’s minds, is currently falling somewhere between top 2 and 5 of all time. Lebron will always be considered as the first Lebron than the “next Jordan”.
Tracey McGrady- When TMAC was drafted, no one was comparing him to MJ. It wasn’t really until years later when TMAC was lighting it up that MJ comparisons were happening because of his scoring abilities. TMAC ofcourse, never did get to realize his dream of becoming an NBA champion, so its kinda tough to compare him to the goat who won 6 out of 6 championships.
Kwahi Leonard- Dubbed the “quiet Jordan”, Kwahi has been compared to MJ by many NBA opposing coaches. Equally efficient on offensive and on the defensive end, Kwahi not only has MJ-sized hands, but also an MJ type body, and the same defensive mindset. In fact, of everyone on this list (yes, that includes Kobe and Lebron) Kwahi may be the best individual and team defensive player on the list. Now, although Kwahi’s scoring is about 8 points per game less than MJ, the rest of the statistical categories are very very close.
Michael Finley- Another one of the “athletic wing players from the ’90s” that was compared to Jordan. Finley’s claim to fame is his missed cartwheel dunk from the 96 dunk contest. Very in-Jordan-like. Jordan would have lobbed the ball, cart wheeled, windmilled and kissed the rim. Finely played against Jordan one-on-one as an amateur and Jordan was impressed that a young Finley could keep up. Finley, although never having a Jordan-esque type year, still had a solid pro career.
Felipe Lopez- And last but definitely not least, the “Dominican Air Jordan” as he was called in the early 1990s. Felipe had such a spectacular high school career, that Sports Illustrated put him on the cover before he even played a game at St. Johns in New York. Very similar in skills to MJ, Felipe even had the handles to add. After a disappointing few years at St. Johns, the MJ comparisons stop. He also had a very unremarkable NBA career, never living up to the high expectations.
So what exactly would it take for someone to be the REAL next Jordan? Well first, athletically he would need to be ahead of 99.9999999% of anybody who has ever touched a basketball. He would need to the crazy focus, drive and determination that would surpass 99.9999999% of any basketball players ever. He would also need to have the right coach in his corner, the right teammates, the right system that would support him and his skills. And we haven’t even gone into actual skillset yet! Pretty much the basketball gods themselves would have to gift a basketball player with the best of everything.
Is there anyone we forgot?