Brooklyn Nets: What if the Nets had drafted Scottie Pippen in 1987?

18 Mar 1997: Forward Scottie Pippen (right) of the Chicago Bulls and guard Gary Payton of the Seattle Supersonics stand during a break in the game at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls won the game 89 - 87. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dani
18 Mar 1997: Forward Scottie Pippen (right) of the Chicago Bulls and guard Gary Payton of the Seattle Supersonics stand during a break in the game at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls won the game 89 - 87. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dani /

The now-Brooklyn Nets weren’t the only team to pass up on Scottie Pippen in 1987, but what if they made him their choice with their third overall pick?

With the third overall pick in 1987, the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, drafted Dennis Hopson out of Ohio State. Little did they know at the time though is that they missed out on drafting on the second-best player in the draft in Scottie Pippen, but what if they had selected him with their pick?

Pippen didn’t really break out until his third season in the league, but once he did break out, he proved to be one of the best two-way players in the league in the 90s, as he served as the perfect sidekick to Michael Jordan during their six championship run divided into two different “three-peats.”

Pippen put up excellent all-around stats offensively for the Chicago Bulls, averaging 19.6 points on a very efficient 48.4 percent shooting percentage, 7.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game from the 1989-90 to 1997-98 season; missing only 57 of a possible 738 games during that stretch. 38 of those 57 missed games came during the 1997-98 season, as Pippen infamously chose to delay surgery on his foot until October, and use the start of the season to sit out and rehab.

Pippen seemingly had control as to when he wanted to return to the court that season, but no matter how you draw it up, missing only 57 games in that amount of time is still not bad; especially when he proved to be a huge part of six championship-winning teams.

Not only did Pippen prove himself as a tremendous all-around player offensively, but the 6’8″ forward has also been selected to eight NBA All-Defensive First Teams in his career.

Although it’s hard to predict how the rest of the Nets roster would’ve shaken out if they decided to draft Pippen instead of Hopson, there are definitely some questions and what-if scenarios that come to mind when thinking about this situation.

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Would Pippen’s desire to be great rub off on the Nets organization, and eventually bring about a winning culture to the Meadowlands?

The Nets probably would’ve still been pretty terrible in the late 80s since Pippen would need further development, as that wouldn’t lead to many wins. Having said that, it’s safe to assume that they’d still end up in the lottery in 1990, where they selected Derrick Coleman with the first overall pick.

Let’s assume even further that they still ended up with Coleman, who many people thought could’ve been the best power forward of all-time.

Coleman got off to a very strong start to his career, as he earned Rookie of the Year honors, and further proved to be the best player in the draft at that time.

The 6’10” forward also had a multi-faceted game on offense, as he could stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, finish at the rim, handle the ball and pass it. At the time, he was considered a power forward ahead of his time.

Unfortunately, the pressures of being the best player on a team with no veteran leadership and his off-the-court issues prevented him from ever reaching his fullest potential as an NBA player.

It makes me wonder, what if the Nets had drafted Pippen in this particular instance? Would he have been that guy to keep Coleman accountable, and help ease his way into becoming a star player in the NBA? Would they have formed a powerful enough duo to lead the Nets deeper into the playoffs?

Those are obviously some very tough questions to answer, as a lot of factors come into play here. Pippen would only be able to do so much to prevent off-the-court incidents from happening, and Pippen wasn’t the GM, so it’s not like he could make the decisions on which players to bring on-board.

What we do know is that Pippen was an important voice in the Bulls locker room in addition to his efforts as a two-way superstar on the court, and any organization would love to have that. So perhaps, he could’ve been that player to keep all his teammates in check including Coleman, and ultimately lead this team to more playoff success in the 90s.

Next. Brooklyn Nets: All-Time "What-If" Team. dark

However, things almost certainly worked out better for Pippen in Chi-Town, as he was a part of some of the best teams in NBA history and went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career regardless of what people say about him being the Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman.