Career-wise, Kawhi has a slightly higher scoring average, everything else is pretty even except assists. Scottie’s 5.2 to Kawhi’s 2.7. Not extremely helpful data as MJ’s presence explains Scottie’s slightly reduced scoring and elevated assists. However, Scottie’s two best seasons are when MJ was on the diamond. And in the ’93-94 season (and this was a good team) he averaged 22 points a game and still maintained over 5 assists without MJ. However, Kawhi has averaged 26 the last two seasons and he got up to 5 assists this past year. Advanced metrics don’t give us much. Again, MJ impacts how much they lean toward Kawhi. I would say if we only had paper, we would conclude that Kawhi is a better scorer, Scottie is a better passer, and they are comparable (and dominant) defenders/rebounders.
Scottie has 6, Kawhi has 2. It could be argued that Scottie’s role in all 6 was much more significant than Kawhi’s first (only averaged 12 a game but he also guarded LeBron). On the other hand, Kawhi’s role in his second was greater than any of Scottie’s. So Scottie gets the edge but it’s noteworthy that he failed to get there without Michael.
Scottie was a better passer, but everything else he did Kawhi seems to be doing better. Scottie’s distinctive qualities are his defensive prowess, length, and offensive consistency. Kawhi does this better. Scottie was a winner, Kawhi has proven the same. They are both good teammates, reliable in clutch situations, and don’t have a notable flaw.
So who is better? The answer is influenced by what you’re trying to do. If you’re ranking careers you have to pick Scottie Pippen. He played 8 more seasons, won 4 more rings, with nearly identical stats and one significant advantage. But if you’re comparing who is individually better and who I’d predict will end up with a better career, it’s Kawhi Leonard.
Stay tuned for a more complete comparison of the two dominant NBA Champion wings coming to AEE soon!