I know, I know…it’s not fair to Jrue to make the early comparison. Iverson was one of the best basketball players of all time. 10 straight All Star games…carried a team of nobodies to the NBA Finals…a Hall of Famer. Once scored 60 points. (Once MADE 24 free throws in a single game. That's probably more than our whole team has made in any game this season, cumulatively.) Twice racked-up NINE steals. Even played 57 minutes once.
Just an unbelievable player.
Much higher B-ball IQ than people gave him credit for. A master of separation…surprise (can you say ‘stolen in-bounds’?)…and ferocity.
But it is interesting to take a look at both and compare for other, various reasons:
-Both were voted to the All Star game in their fourth season; (both after shortened third seasons).
-Jrue is the only player SINCE Iverson who was capable of scoring proficiently. (In 4 of Jrue’s last 6 he’s scored more than 29 points. No one – since AI – could ever have claimed that.)
-While Jrue will never be the scorer AI was (in one 11-year stretch, AI averaged 28.9 per game; incredible!) Jrue has already become a far better defender that AI ever was; yes, despite AI’s impressive steals totals. Last year Jrue’s defense was mediocre-to-crappy. I don’t know what he did in the off season…but man, he’s pretty damn good.
-Jrue is productive in other ways, of course. This year he’s averaging 9 assists per game. You might be surprised to know that, despite this impressive number, AI – at this stage of his career – averaged a tiny bit higher number of career assists than does Jrue. Negligible; but surprising in that most remember AI as a gunner and now view Jrue as unselfish. Truth is - both got others involved. And neither was surrounded by great scorers.
-Jrue shoots at a higher percentage (though it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he, too, consistently gets double-teamed).
-There was one year in which AI shot the ball close to 2,000 times. In his early years he was always hoisting it up in the 1500 times-per-year range. I’d be willing to bet Jrue – this year – won’t exceed 1300. So he seems to be quite a bit more efficient.
-Having said that...remember, too, AI averaged – in his FOURTEEN YEAR career – 41 minutes per game. That’s remarkable. Before this year Jrue averaged about 31.
A long, long, long way to go…but in some ways Jrue is a better all-around player; in others he’ll never, ever, be the threat AI was.
But they both have this in common: they are both creative, aggressive, pains-in-the-azz to defend, exciting to watch and have no conscience. They are both worth the price of admission; every penny of it.
And that’s what it’s all about after all.