I’ve mentioned this in the comments on the report cards before, but when I’m coming up with player grades, I take into account what we expected out of the player in question and whether that player lived up to expectations.
Which makes grading a player like Scotty Pippen Jr. ... difficult.
First, the expectations. Pippen was the preseason SEC Player of the Year, which said a lot about the expectations for him entering the season; Vanderbilt also was picked by the same body to finish 13th in the SEC, which said a lot about what SEC coaches and media members thought of the players around him. Neither of these things came to pass, of course; Pippen was a first team All-SEC selection for the second year in a row, but he wasn’t the Player of the Year, and Vanderbilt, in spite of injuries to key players, finished 11th in the SEC (and probably was actually playing better than that at the end of the season.)
So, why do I feel disappointed by a first-team All-SEC season? Probably because Pippen didn’t make The Jump. Pippen’s scoring average actually dropped from sophomore year to junior year, and it wasn’t because he was taking fewer shots and deferring to his teammates more; in fact, Pippen took more shots per game in 2021-22. He made just 32.5 percent of his threes and 46.9 percent of his twos. And while he had some mind-boggling point totals, sometimes that wasn’t really doing much for the team — case in point, a six-game stretch from February 12 to March 1 when Pippen averaged 27.2 ppg ... and the team went 1-5. Pippen had five games on the season with 30 or more points, and Vanderbilt won two of them.
At no point during the 2021-22 season did it feel like Pippen had actually become a better player than he was as a sophomore. And that felt like a disappointment. And maybe it’s unfair to him and the result of him playing on some pretty bad teams, but in ten or fifteen years I don’t think we’ll be talking about him in the same way that we talk about Shan Foster or John Jenkins or Billy McCaffrey.
It might be a bit harsh, but I don’t think this deserves an A.