As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to navigate their season, one of the underlying storylines has been the lack of development at Jaden Springer. The franchise selected the Tennessee product with the 28th overall pick in the 2021 draft knowing it would be a project. However, in his sophomore season, Springer only played ten minutes at the NBA level. The Sixers still appear unsure of his long-term position affiliation, and with them in such a clear win-now window it can’t be ruled out that he will be used as a trading chip to complete the roster of players poised to to make a contribution. Still, there’s no guarantee the 20-year-old will be coveted in the rest of the NBA.
Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney spoke to an anonymous NBA general manager to get to the bottom of it. As the executive spilled, “They would love to make him a point guard and at his height (6ft-4) and the way he defends, if he could develop into that that would be great. He has an advantage, especially if he can play the point, even a small point. He’s one of those guys, one of those G-League guys that gets circled because everyone wants to see if it’s working, maybe he’s an added benefit in a trade or maybe he’s giving free rein when they need to take action. He’ll definitely be looked at.
So far this season, Springer has averaged 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game with the Delaware Blue Coats. The most significant advancement in his game has been his perimeter shooting, as he hits on 40.0% of his long-range attempts while 3.3 attempts per game.
This was a concern earlier in the year as Springer only scored 28% on three-point attempts last season. During his only year of college, he shot 43.5% from long range but attempted only 1.8 long-range attempts per game. Given the importance of perimeter shooting – especially in the guard position – this is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
As implied in the quote, his greatest impact will always be felt on defense. As of this writing, Springer is an NBA-level defenseman. His strong physique and quick twitch ability allow him to swallow opposing ball carriers. He flashed this during Summer League and has done so throughout his G League tenure.
If there was ever a time to find out if Springer could handle NBA minutes, it would be now. The Sixers are heavily utilized, especially in the guard position, due to injuries. With James Harden and Tyrese Maxey each out through injury in the next few weeks, De’Anthony Melton, Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz will be the only healthy guards in the squad.
The simple need for bodies should give Springer a chance, but it would be telling if the Sixers didn’t give him a chance. It should be noted that the sophomore player himself is not entirely healthy. Springer ended up on the injury report earlier this week with a quadriceps strain. It is not expected to be a long-term injury as he is due to be re-evaluated early next week. Hopefully he’s ready to get on the court soon and get his chance with the Sixers.
The franchise has shown enough faith in him to exercise his team option for next year, which guarantees him $4.2 million. Whether his future lies in being used as a trade chip or as a development rotation player, it’s worth giving him a few opportunities on the court to get a better idea of what he can be. If it works out and Springer exceeds expectations, it could be the silver lining in the recent injury streak. The Sixers need all the help they can get and hopefully he can take the call if/wins his way.