After 58 selections went by last Thursday night, Scotty Pippen Jr. remained undrafted. The combo guard out of Vanderbilt was among the more notable players left on the board along with UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, and Villanova’s Colin Gillespie just to name a few. However, shortly after the draft commenced Pippen Jr. got a call from the Los Angeles Lakers offering him a two-way contract.
What does that mean? The Lakers are bringing Scotty in on a non-guaranteed contract, but on a deal that permits him the availability to play in 50 of the league’s 82 regular season games. When not with the Lakers, he can play with their G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. He and their other two-way signee, former Syracuse guard Cole Swider, will likely be key contributors for the Lakers’ summer league squad this year along with their 2nd round pick, Max Christie.
Despite the deal, nothing is guaranteed for Pippen. He can be cut at any moment without any penalties for the franchise, but I do think that Pippen has a solid chance to maintain at least his two-way status to start next year’s season. As was evident last season, the Lakers lack any kind of depth behind their two franchise cornerstones of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 2021 undrafted free agent Austin Reaves was a significant contributor on the wing last year after he was signed to a two-way deal which was later converted to a guaranteed deal. Beyond that, most of the Lakers’ minutes were filled by the likes of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, and a plethora of other veterans.
Scotty could slide into either guard spot and could have a shot to earn some bench minutes if things go his way. After the Kyrie Irving rumors fizzled out with him opting into his contract with Brooklyn, the Lakers are essentially stuck with at least one more year of Westbrook. With a new head coach in Darvin Ham at the helm, Westbrook will likely get a fresh shot in L.A. because frankly there is not a clear alternative. Beyond him, it is an underwhelming group. The rest of the backcourt will be made up of Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, potentially Malik Monk if he’s willing to take a discount again, and whatever veteran scraps they can find in free agency. All in all, it will be an uphill battle for Scotty Pippen Jr. to earn real minutes on this roster, but the path is there and it would not be the first time an overlooked college star made an instant impact in the league.