As the son of an NBA legend, it can be tough, especially if you take up the same sport as your pop’s. It’s even more challenging when you’re named after that legend, like Scottie Pippen Jr. is. Still, Scottie Jr. is forging his own path at Vanderbilt. He showed off his clutch genes against Temple Tuesday night, hitting a game-tying buzzer-beating three-pointer to send the game into overtime. Temple would eventually win this one in OT, 72-68.
Hopefully, little Scottie’s big shot didn’t bring up any flashbacks to 1994 for Scottie Pippen and those infamous 1.8 seconds he sat out when head coach Phil Jackson called Toni Kukoč’s number, and not Pippen’s, for a final shot against the Knicks in the semis (Kukoč drained it for the win).
Little Pippen is seen by scouts as a second-round pick in the 2022 NBA draft. He doesn’t have the size of his father, listed at around 6-foot-1, and playing the point guard position as opposed to the point-forward slot his dad developed. His offensive game is more polished than his father’s at the same point from a skill perspective. He also has a good feel for the game with a pretty good basketball IQ. But the younger Pippen lacks the size, length, and athleticism that helped senior become one of the NBA’s all-time great players.
Scottie Jr. will probably have to earn his spot on an NBA team the hard way if he goes in the second round of the draft as currently projected. But it’s not an impossible route, just a tougher one. Players like Gilbert Arenas, Draymond Green, and even last season’s MVP Nikola Jokić were all second-rounders and did well for themselves in the NBA. We can go even further back to players like Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Dennis Johnson, and even Mark Price. All of whom were considered small guards in their NBA eras. So, it is attainable for Pippen, and he still has plenty of time left to improve his draft stock.
If Pippen finds himself in a few more clutch spots like he did against Temple and can come through successfully, that will go a long way toward him climbing up the draft charts. As a smaller player in the land of trees, you usually need to possess an elite aspect to your game. Allen Iverson had elite athleticism for a 6-foot guard. Steph Curry came into the NBA with elite shooting ability, and Kyrie Irving (currently on hiatus) with his elite ball-handling and ability to finish amongst the redwoods better than any small guard we’ve ever seen. The same goes for Archibald as a passer, along with his ability to penetrate the lane. Johnson was known for his quickness as a nine-time All-Defensive player, and Price with his shooting prowess in an era where launching from deep wasn’t emphasized as it is in today’s game.
So, Scottie Jr. certainly has his work cut out for him, but the road paved before him isn’t an impossible one to navigate. Having a father that played at the highest level can definitely be an advantage if Junior is willing to use him as a resource. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll certainly be checking for Pippen come March.