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Season Review: Scotty Pippen Jr.

While Scotty Pippen Jr.’s rookie season took place largely away from the spotlight, did he show enough promise for the future?

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Lakers’ propensity for finding diamonds in the rough means players like Scotty Pippen Jr., an undrafted two-way player, are viewed in perhaps a different way by fans than with other franchises. Even as a fringe prospect, he’s viewed under the lens of “Will he be the next one?”

It can take away from what a player accomplishes or place unnecessary pressure on them. But Pippen Jr. was also quite productive this season in his own right. He was named to the Rising Stars Game this year because of his G League production. He made a number of NBA cameos this season, almost exclusively in garbage time.

But is he the next one?

How Was Their Season?

This depends on the curve he’s being graded on. For an undrafted rookie, SPJ was quite productive. In 19 games, he averaged 21.4 points per game and shot 46.9% from the 3-point line. He struggled to shoot from range, hitting only 30% of his 90 attempts. He chipped in 5.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as well.

Largely speaking, it was in line with how he produced in his final season at Vanderbilt. That he could continue that level of production against a higher level of competition is impressive, but it also raises some concerns about his potential.

Being largely the same player isn’t going to be enough for him to get into the NBA regularly. A 6’1” point guard that can’t knock down long-range shots consistently nor set up teammates at an elite level is going to find it hard to make an NBA roster.

That is where things stand with SPJ. Is there a belief he can become something different than what he’s been for his last three seasons of basketball?

Should the Lakers Bring Him Back?

The question the Lakers have to answer is whether it is worth hanging onto SPJ and hoping for growth. What is the ceiling of an undersized point guard even in a best-case scenario, particularly on a team with LeBron James?

Working in SPJ’s favor is the addition of another two-way spot next season, which makes the decision a little easier on the Lakers. Even still, it’s going to be difficult to make an argument to bring him back, especially when the Lakers have a history of turning undrafted prospects into contributors.

Do you think they will return?

Ultimately, I do not. Unlike Cole Swider, SPJ did not sign a multi-year two-way deal last offseason, which also probably speaks as to how the Lakers see him as well.

Pippen Jr. is a perfectly serviceable G League player and will land with another team on a two-way contract at the very least. But with a limited ceiling and little indication of him becoming something different than what he is, it would be a bit surprising if he returned next season.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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