For those who watched him play his college ball at Vanderbilt, Scotty Pippen Jr. was an obvious steal after going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft. After going undrafted, Pippen signed a two-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. He has been nothing short of a human highlight reel through four games in the NBA Summer League, even catching the attention of LeBron James.
In Friday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, Pippen dropped team-highs in points (19) and steals (3). His competitive spirit was evident late in the first half as Pippen timed a steal near half court perfectly, converting on an and-one layup on the offensive end. LeBron, who was sitting courtside in Las Vegas, appreciated the effort and offered Pippen a hand up.
Bron helped Scotty Pippen Jr. up after this and-1 🤝 pic.twitter.com/IKH6hBL7XD— ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2022
Pippen is already looking the part of a backup point guard. His basketball intelligence, playmaking abilities, and overall feel for the game has been on display constantly. The 21-year-old point guard has finished in double figures in three of the Lakers’ four Summer League contests.
Pippen’s court vision is immaculate, possessing the unique ability to know where all of his teammates are on the floor at all times, sometimes without even looking.
Scotty Pippen Jr finds Max Christie in transition with the nice bounce pass pic.twitter.com/ygDLghC7As— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) July 3, 2022
Los Angeles did not make much noise in the draft, but Pippen is making an early case for a role in the team’s rotation. While general manager Rob Pelinka is still pondering a solution for the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook problem, it would not surprise me at all if SP2 found himself in the backup role by the All-Star break.
In what was a weak draft class for point guards, the Lakers found themselves a diamond in the rough in Pippen. He can score at all three levels, has an advanced understanding of the intricacies in playing point guard, and has made major strides defensively.
Pippen is exactly the type of point guard James has had success playing with in the past. Pippen can score on his own, but his best talent is his playmaking skill. He is able to pass teammates open and create opportunities in the pick and roll. He is also capable of getting to the rack, collapsing the defense, and finding an open three for a teammate.
Lakers Nation has reason to be excited about Pippen. Depth in general has been lacking since LeBron arrived, but especially so at the point guard position. It might take a couple of months, but Pippen is already showing that he could be an asset off the bench in his rookie season.
Featured image via Stephen R. Sylvanie – USA TODAY Sports