It is widely believed that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are regarded as the best duo of all time, considering they won 6 NBA championships together for the Chicago Bulls thanks to two incredible 3-peats. Of course, they also set the then record for most wins in an NBA season, winning 72 games during the 1995-96 season. At the core of it were Jordan and Pippen, two dominant two-way players who changed the way the game was played in terms of athleticism, offense, and defensive acumen.
While Pippen was extremely important for the Bulls, it was Jordan who received the bulk of the adulation for his attractive style of play, leadership, and unstoppable scoring ability that captivated fans. Obviously, Jordan was the best player on the team and the undisputed leader of the Bulls. But Jordan’s greatness also meant Pippen went underrated over his own career, an amazing thing to consider. As great as the duo was, fans and media members tend to compare the two players which come naturally when discussing professional sports.
But one stigma always remained that Jordan was the designated scorer while Pippen did the other things on the court including being the primary playmaker, rebounder, and defender. But is that reality? Was Jordan just a scorer for the dominant Bulls teams when he teamed up with Pippen in the postseason? Or was Pippen less than being the all-around star who did the dirty work and other areas of the floor besides scoring? It is time to find out. Here are the stats of Jordan and Pippen during their playoff runs together with the Chicago Bulls. We will start out in the 1988 season when Pippen first made the playoffs alongside Jordan, and end in the 1998 season when they completed their second 3-peat and won their 6th championship.
Points Per Game
Michael Jordan - 33.3 PPG
Scottie Pippen - 18.1 PPG
Obviously, there is no comparison when it comes to scoring. Michael Jordan was the greatest scorer ever and the designated hitter for the Chicago Bulls dynasty, a reason why he posted an impressive 33.3 PPG during the 10-year run alongside Scottie Pippen. Michael was incredibly efficient as well, averaging 48.8% from the field and 82.6% from the free-throw line. From three, Jordan shot 33.3% which is also impressive to consider because players back in the 80s and 90s were not aware of the impact of the three-point shot.
Meanwhile, Scottie was clearly reserved to a secondary role when it came to scoring the ball. The all-time great wing was solid, posting 18.1 PPG on 44.9% shooting, but he was no Michael Jordan. Quite frankly, any player playing alongside Michael will have to take a backseat because averaging over 30 PPG on above 48% shooting are unbelievable numbers. Pippen’s scoring was needed throughout the playoff runs, but it was clearly not as valuable as Michael’s and the Chicago Bulls knew that.
Rebounds Per Game
Michael Jordan - 6.4 RPG
Scottie Pippen - 7.7 RPG
When it came to rebounds, whatever Michael gave was considered a plus. His scoring was off the charts, and his rebounding is to be respected as well. The superstar shooting guard averaged an impressive 6.4 RPG over his playoff run alongside Scottie Pippen, very good numbers considering he had to battle in the paint despite having Scottie and other strong rebounders including Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman. But no doubt, Scottie was tasked with rebounding far more than Michael Jordan.
Scottie did very well attacking the boards during his Chicago Bulls days, as evidenced by his 7.7 RPG average. The superstar wing was capable of hauling down rebounds due to his size at 6’8” and 210 lbs and had elite explosiveness and length as well. Pippen was able to snag the ball without jumping too high, and would often kickstart the break as well. That was a major role of his because the Bulls needed bodies who could attack the rim and come up with rebounds. Michael was certainly solid rebounding the ball considering his offensive burden, but Scottie was undeniably better.
Assists Per Game
Michael Jordan - 5.6 APG
Scottie Pippen - 5.2 APG
The stigma of Michael being a scorer and Pippen being the primary playmaker could be settled by this statistical comparison. The GOAT averaged an impressive 5.6 APG, once again very solid considering he was posting over 30 PPG consistently. Jordan was a very capable passer, an attribute that often goes unnoticed when looking at his numbers and impact over the years with the Chicago Bulls. But Michael knew he had to pass at times, mainly because opposing defenses were geared to stop him.
Meanwhile, Scottie averaged 5.2 APG which was also solid, but not what most might expect. Pippen was considered the “point forward” of the team, but his inability to average 30 PPG like Mike meant he would not draw double teams as often. Because Pippen was tasked with feeding Michael and also competing in Phil Jackson’s system, it often meant the wing would not end up with the assist. Rather, Jordan was swamped with defenders and was the one making the assist plays just as often or if not, more.
Steals Per Game
Michael Jordan - 2.1 SPG
Scottie Pippen - 1.9 SPG
Both Jordan and Pippen were elite defenders with the Bulls, and that is a massive reason why they have to be in the mix for being the best duo of all time. Jordan was an exceptional athlete and had the skill to pick up ball-handlers the length of the floor. Similarly, Pippen had incredible length and was just as good on defense when it came to picking up opposing players. Together, Michael and Pippen were suffocating.
Jordan has a slight edge in SPG although it is negligible. Pippen was just as good as Mike when it came to coming up with steals by poking the ball away or playing in passing lanes. Both stars had excellent steals statistics, and that was an indication of how dominant the Chicago Bulls were during the days of consistently making the postseason. In terms of defense during their 10-year run in the playoffs together, there is truly little to separate the two Hall of Fame players.
Blocks Per Game
Michael Jordan - 0.8 BPG
Scottie Pippen - 1.0 BPG
In terms of coming up with blocks, Michael Jordan was exceptional for a guard by posting close to 1.0 BPG. The superstar shooting guard already had a massive load to handle in terms of scoring the ball, but he was an elite defender who was also tasked with defending the best player on the opposing team at times. Michael averaged 0.8 BPG during his 10-year-run with Scottie Pippen, a very solid average. But again, in terms of defense, there is truly little to separate the GOAT and his running mate, Scottie Pippen.
Pippen has a slight edge in blocks, posting 1.0 BPG as a 6’8’ wing with incredible length. Pippen’s shot-blocking ability is underrated because he was so good at playing on-ball defense, but he could also come up with blocks whenever an opponent got past him or his teammates. Whether it was playing straight-up defense or coming from behind, Pippen had a knack for knocking the ball away. Pippen has a slight edge, but again, their defense is almost equal in terms of impact and numbers.
Minutes Per Game
Michael Jordan - 41.7 MPG
Scottie Pippen - 39.5 MPG
When it comes to MPG, Jordan played over 40 MPG over his playoff runs and was tasked with scoring the ball, playing defense, and playing superstar basketball in other areas of the game. Clearly an exhausting workload, Jordan answered the call because he was in tremendous shape and loved the game. Playing 41.7 MPG and still averaging ridiculous numbers across the board proves he is the best to ever do it, especially when adding to the fact he won 6 championships as the leader of the team. After Jordan, Pippen had the biggest workload because he comes close to Jordan’s MPG average.
Pippen averaged 39.5 MPG for the Bulls, a very high number of minutes. Even when compared to other players, Scottie had a massive reputation for playing extremely hard on both ends of the floor to support Michael Jordan. Together, Jordan and Pippen outplayed the opposition consistently because they were not only more skilled and athletic but more motivated. Pippen’s 39.5 MPG average comes as a result of his ability to form a seamless fit with Michael on the court, and they were often on the floor together as a result.
Michael Jordan Was More Than Just A Scorer For The Chicago Bulls
Obviously, based on the numbers, Michael Jordan was more than just a scorer. He passed the ball even more than Scottie, rebounded at a high level, and played some hellacious defense. The idea that Scottie Pippen did everything else besides score at a higher level than Michael has been proven false. Rather, Pippen supported Michael in all areas of the game to allow the GOAT to lead them to the prime land year after year. To his credit, Pippen was on par with Michael as a defender and had the edge in rebounding.
As a 6’8” wing with exceptional athleticism and length, Scottie was asked to rebound the ball more than Michael Jordan and also defend the opposing team’s best wing player. Scottie was not asked to score or pass as much as Michael and was required to follow Phil Jackson’s system and be a cog in that regard. Jordan essentially controlled Chicago’s offense as everything went through him. Sure, Scottie brought the ball up a bit more, but Jordan was the one making the final plays.
Overall, Michael was far more than just a dominant scorer for the Chicago Bulls dynasty. He was essentially everything to the dynasty, as he drew the double teams, made the passes, and played the lockdown defense. Pippen was the sidekick, supporting Jordan in that regard, and also being tasked with playing on-par defense and also attacking the rim for rebounds. Michael was the better player, no doubt, but Pippen elevated him into a 6-time NBA champion with a resume that will forever stand the test of time. The duo of Jordan and Pippen will remain enshrined because no duo had the amount of success and dominance they had with the Bulls.