Monday, June 27, 2022

Doc Rivers silent on Sixers’ first-round pick: ‘I’m probably outnumbered’

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Jaden Springer appeared in more playoff games than he did in the regular season in his rookie year. Sure, a lot of those postseason minutes came in trash time, including a four-point performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Toronto. Blame the circumstances.

But the 6-foot-3 shooting guard capitalized on every single opportunity. Springer, of course, spent most of the 2021-22 season in the G League, playing for the Delaware Blue Coats. In 19 contests, he averaged 14.9 points, 2.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.

The Tennessee first-round draft team was proud to be part of a Blue Coats roster that won the Eastern Conference title before narrowly missing out on capturing the G League championship. Springer learned a lot, a lot more than he could have absorbed sitting on the Sixers bench and not playing.

“All about reps, just keep playing basketball,” Springer said. “Probably some things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do here [with the Sixers] Just going there all season and working on my game and developing, that’s probably the biggest thing.

“It’s been good for me. I’m trying to take advantage of everything, just trying to stay positive and that’s really what I’ve been doing. I’ve been there and we’ve had a great season so I feel like it’s going for paid me off.”

Springer wouldn’t reveal what specifically he plans to work on this summer, but the logic points to his attacking play. He shot just 46.4% from the field and 24.1% from the three-point line. The chance to improve in these areas begins July 7 when players travel to Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League.

“My goal is to just stay in the lab,” Springer said. “We have Summer League coming up so prepare for that and then stay focused, keep working on my game, that’s great for me.”

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Sixers head coach Doc Rivers liked what he saw from Springer in Year 1. Like everyone else, he wants the hard-working North Carolina kid to work on his sweater this summer.

“Jaden is young, 19 years old. He was the youngest player in the NBA last year and already has an NBA body,” Rivers said of Springer. “I think – and I’m probably outnumbered – but I think he has a chance to be an elite defensive player. He has a lot of offensive things to work on.

Maybe the young guard can hit the gym with 2020 runner-up Isaiah Joe and the two can swap secrets. Joe needs to get better defensively; Springer needs to improve offensively.

“Isaiah Joe, I’m looking at him and I’m looking at that shot and there’s so many other things he needs to work on,” Rivers said, “and improve to get down to earth, but this summer is.” important to him.”

A guy who exceeded expectations out of the water was Tyrese Maxey. The sophomore guard started the year as a plug-in point guard while the team waited for Ben Simmons to show up. After trading Simmons, the Sixers moved Maxey off the ball and put him in the backcourt with James Harden.

What has he done? Maxey averaged 17.5 points per game while shooting 42.7% from the three-point line. And he hit another level in the playoffs, including a 34-point breakout in Game 2 against Miami.

“Tyrese has a chance to be a special kid, I think,” Rivers said. “There’s always two options, I love players who love the game and who just want to win, you know what’s funny, he’s working to become a better player but what Tyrese really wants is at the end of the day to be win and you have an emotional bond with such players.”

“Tyrese has a chance to be a special kid, I think,” Rivers said. “There’s always two options, I love players who love the game and who just want to win, you know what’s funny, he’s working to become a better player but what Tyrese really wants is at the end of the day to be win and you have an emotional bond with such players.”



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