And before you write off those early years as Irving being a youngster trying to carry an awful roster, keep in mind what happens to his current team when LeBron leaves the floor.
At 25, Irving is just a year younger than Bryant was in 2004 when the Lakers handed him the keys to the kingdom and traded away O’Neal, the most dominant force in the game at the time much like James is today. And he’s got the same insane confidence/cockiness at three inches shorter and about 25 pounds lighter.
In a 2012 Team USA scrimmage, before injuries robbed Bryant of his powers, Irving was willing to bet $50,000 he could beat the future Hall of Famer in a game of 1-on-1.
That’s not to say Jackson will become a shutdown defender overnight or nearly as good as Green, as they are different in terms of position and play. But Jackson displayed flashes of brilliance playing only one year with new teammates, and the fact that he compares somewhat favorably to a senior deeply immersed in Tom Izzo’s system shows the 20-year-old is just scratching the surface.
The Suns finished dead last in the West last season. They are attempting to build a foundation for the future in order to eventually compete in a loaded conference. Trading for Irving isn’t going to fix everything that’s wrong in Phoenix, but it could send them down a dangerous path for years to come depending on what the team is willing to give up. The Cavs might be willing to bring down the asking price once the season approaches and that locker room becomes a little more tense. For now, the Suns shouldn’t be in a rush to make a move.
That’s why Irving and Jackson haven’t gone anywhere yet.