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Rockets Draft: Scottie Pippen Jr. Carved Own Identity At NBA Combine

After an impressive outing at the NBA Combine, should the Houston Rockets take a chance on Scottie Pippen Jr., who has created his own identity on the basketball court?

HOUSTON — Houston Rockets' sophomore Kenyon Martin Jr. understands the challenges of being the offspring of a famous father. 

Kenyon Martin Sr. was a one-time NBA-All Star who played an enforcer role with the New Jersey Nets (2000-2004) and Denver Nuggets (2004-2011) to help turn his teams into contenders during his hay day.

Only a few players understand the burden of having a prominent last name. But Martin Jr. was able to share his experience in high school with his former Sierra Canyon teammate, Scottie Pippen Jr.

Pippen is a 6-foot-1 point guard from Vanderbilt University whose name is the only characteristic he shares with his Hall-of-Fame father, Scottie Pippen Sr. The seven-time NBA All-Star and the six-time champion helped lay the foundation that helped his son on the cusp of an NBA career. But Pippen Jr. has carved his own identity on the basketball court. 

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Martin and Pippin

"Growing up with this name, there was always pressure to perform," Pippen Jr. said at the NBA Combine on May 19. "Even as a little kid growing up in Chicago, everyone would go at me. But I am my own person at the end of the day. I go out there and compete because my dad is not out there with me. At the end of the day, it's my own legacy."

Pippen Jr. is a combo guard who can become a vital floor general once his footing is established in the NBA. Pippen led the SEC in scoring as a junior averaging 20.4 points per game on 41.6 percent shooting. But his best attribute is his ability to get teammates involved while orchestrating an offense. 

The highlight of the combine for Pippen Jr. took place during the first half of a team scrimmage between Team Curry and Team Johnson. While penetrating through the lane, Pippen Jr. connected with his Team Curry teammate Tyrese Martin with a no-look pass for a 3-point basket. 

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Later in the same scrimmage, Pippen Jr. broke a double-team with a bounce pass to find open big-man Trevion Williams for an easy lay-up.

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Taking the helm as a pass-first point guard who can play second or third fiddle in scoring could be an eminent situation to help Pippen Jr. reach his NBA potential. He averaged 16.0 points and 4.5 assists in two scrimmages played at the NBA Combine in Chicago.

Pippen Jr. declared for the 2022 NBA Draft as a projected second-round prospect, but his stock undoubtedly grew following his output at the combine.

"I think being the son of Scottie Pippen attributed to me being so mentally tough," he said. "I am able to lock in and not be worried what people think about me — especially people who compare me to my dad. It has helped me prepare for this game on the biggest level."

Given the Rockets' need for a point guard of Pippen Jr.'s stature, general manager Rafael Stone should consider acquiring a second-round selection to take a chance on the underrated prospect.

He would be able to orchestrate Houston's offense for the second unit in the absence of Kevin Porter Jr. while providing a minor scoring lift. Pippen would help the game become easier when playing alongside Jalen Green and Christian Wood.

Pippen Jr. is breaking out of the shadows of his dad. And reconstructing the family name in Houston would be a significant route for Pippen Jr. to carve his own NBA legacy.

Pippen Jr. played three seasons at Vanderbilt where he averaged 17.5 points per game while shooting 45.4 percent from the field, to go along with 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals.