What deals are Scottie Pippen Jr. and Shareef O’Neal on at the Lakers?
The Lakers have taken on Scottie Pippen Jr. and Shareef O’Neal, sons of the NBA Hall of Famers, on prospective contracts after the 2022 NBA Draft.
The Los Angeles Lakers did not have a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, having waived that right in a deal with Pelicans that took Anthony Davis to the Crypto.com Arena in 2019. Furthermore, the Lakers’ poor season meant that pick turned into an unexpected number 8, and the Pelicans accepted the gift by snapping up Dyson Daniels. On draft night, the Lakers’ activity was concentrated on other fronts. Could they find a away to move Russell Westbrook on in a trade? Was there any truth in the rumours that Kyrie Irving might be open to a reunion with LeBron James?
The Lakers got involved in the 2022 Draft in the second round with the 35th pick, courtesy of a deal with the Magic involving a future second-round pick and cash. The LA franchise selected 19-year-old Michigan State guard Max Christie, who didn’t exactly set the world alight with the Spartans last season when he averaged 9.3 points per game. Christie has potential (if he gains muscle and power) to become a decent NBA guard and he is able to defend and hit three-pointers, virtues that are valued in LA.
But it was after the completion of the draft that the interesting, or at least the most media-friendly, news started to emerge from the Lakers, who have taken on the sons of two of the best players in NBA history: Scottie Pippen Jr y Shareef O’Neal. Neither was drafted on the night but both are going to be working in one way or another with the Lakers. Pippen Jr, son of Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen, signed a two-way contract that means he will alternate between the NBA and the South Bay Lakers in the NBA G League. The other two-way was handed to Syracuse forward Cole Swider.
Pippen Jr. a prospect but height a problem
Pippen Jr. is 21 years old and played three seasons at Vanderbilt. A point guard with an accurate shooting record, Pippen Jr. averaged over 20 points a game in his final two seasons with the Commodores, also averaging 4.3 assists in his final campaign. He reads the game well and knows what he is doing on court, but he stands at only 1.85m and that is why he missed out on a place in the draft. Generally, guards of his height find they have serious defensive problems at NBA level. His three-point averages are not bad but hardly lethal: 34.3%. As such, he has plenty of work to do to convince the Lakers he is capable of making it in the NBA, where certain deficiencies are ruthlessly exposed.
O’Neal a long shot for the Lakers
Shareef O’Neal, on the other hand, has signed for the Lakers to play in the Summer League after spending the past few days practicing with the team. He will wear the same shirt number that his father, Shaquille, did at the Lakers, where he entered into NBA folklore. But the comparisons do not stretch much further than that. Shareef plays as a power forward or center and stands at 2.11m but the likelihood of his emulating his father seems remote. He admits he had a few serious arguments with Shaquille over his decision to try out for the pros, with the Hall of Famer preferring his son to complete his university studies.
“I was just blown away by the stardust. It was amazing to put on that jersey, like I was born to play for the Lakers. I grew up rooting for this team, so this is a dream, a great honor. It’s the team my dad won rings on,” he said.
Shareef O’Neal took a while to discover his vocation for basketball and was a keen skateboarder as a youth. During his first year at UCLA a heart issue was detected, which required surgery. When he was able to return to the court, he switched schools and enrolled at LSU, where he averaged 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds across 14 games last season.