How Good Was Scottie Pippen?

Scottie Pippen put together one of the greatest NBA careers of all time, in terms of individual accomplishments and team success. Pippen’s Chicago Bulls teams will go down as some of the most dominant squads ever assembled. His commitment to excellence on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball set the standard for two-way play.

Yet despite his impressive and productive career, Pippen often gets overlooked as one of the all-time greats. Face it, that’s just what happens when you spend your career playing next to Michael Jordan. Here we shed some light on Pippen’s extraordinary career, his historic accomplishments, while also investigating how he stacks up against the GOAT.

NBA career

The Seattle SuperSonics selected Pippen with the fifth pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, only to trade him to the Bulls in a draft-day trade. Pippen spent his rookie season coming off the bench as a small forward. Midway through his sophomore season, Pippen moved into a starting role. That year he put up averages of 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.

In Pippen’s third season, he increased his performance across the board, ending up with 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.6 steals per game. Numbers like that would continue to define Pippen’s performance for years to come. Pippen spent his first 11 seasons with the Bulls, before being traded to the Houston Rockets.

Pippen spent the only one lockout-shortened season with the Rockets. Unhappy with the team’s performance, Pippen requested a trade at the end of the season. The Rockets sent him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a bevy of players. Pippen spent four years with the Blazer’s, putting up solid if unspectacular numbers, before returning to Chicago for his final season.

Scottie Pippen’s historical greatness

Pippen’s accomplishments easily put him among the best players the game has ever seen. Over the course of his career, he won six titles, all with the Bulls. Pippen was also voted into seven All-Star games, winning All-Star MVP in 1994. Pippen made three All-NBA First Teams, and eight NBA All-Defensive First Teams.

Pippen holds the distinction of being the only NBA player to twice win both an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title in the same year. As befits a player with such an impressive achievement, Pippen has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice — once for his individual career, and again as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic “Dream Team.”

Scottie Pippen compared to Jordan

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Pippen’s career was so spectacular that analysts continue to regard him as the second-best NBA player of the entire ’90’s. Unsurprisingly, the number one position on that list goes to Michael Jordan. That begs the question: just how do the two former Bulls stack up against one another when it comes to career achievements?

Both won six NBA titles. Pippen played more NBA seasons than Jordan, at 17 to 15. Pippen also made it to more playoffs, at 16 to 13. Pippen also edges Jordan out when it comes to total All-Defensive team selections, at 10 to 9. That said, Jordan was selected to more All-Defensive First Team squads than Pippen.

Jordan also won five MVP awards and six Finals MVP awards, while Pippen didn’t capture a single of either. That may lead you to believe that Jordan far outstripped Pippen when it came to statistical accomplishments. The truth, however, is that the two were surprisingly close matched in most box score categories.

Over the course of his career, Pippen averaged 6.4 rebounds per game, while Jordan averaged 6.2. Pippen averaged 5.2 assists per game, while Jordan averaged 5.3. Pippen averaged 2.0 steals per game, while Jordan averaged 2.3. The only place where a gulf separates the two men is in points. Jordan averaged an impressive 30.1 points per game, while Pippen came in at 16.1.