The Sixers knew that Jaden Springer was a long-term project when they selected him with the 28th overall pick in last year’s draft. The Tenessee product was one of the youngest prospects in the class and is also younger than many of the rookies in the most recent draft class. The now 19-year-old has many intriguing tools but still has to refine his game. In his rookie season, he played a total of just six minutes on the floor with the Sixers and spent the rest of the year with the Delaware Blue Coats.
Springer recently played in summer league with the Sixers, where he gave a window into his development. On the positive side of things, Springer has an NBA-ready body
Areas of Improvement for Jaden Springer
One of the biggest areas of improvement for Jaden Springer is his ball-handling. The Tennessee product stands 6’4″ and still has an unclear positional fit in the NBA. He plays like a power forward in a guard’s body and makes use of his impressive physical frame. While it is impressive that he already has an NBA-ready body, he is overly reliant on his physical abilities rather than basketball skills to get to his spots. Springer does this fairly effectively, but this likely will not be the case at the NBA level.
He likely will never be a natural ball-handler but improving these abilities is essential to him finding more time on the floor. Springer averaged 1.8 turnovers per game with the Blue Coats and was too loose with the ball when attacking the paint or dribbling to spots.
While typically, these ball-handling abilities are more polished when players reach the NBA, there is still reason to believe Springer can improve. When looking back at Springer’s high school and even college film, there are also some extremely positive flashes that give hope.
As things currently stand, Jaden Springer is not capable of serving as a primary initiator and is even questionable as a secondary playmaker. Improving his ball-handling would be a major help in making this possible and should be at the top of the list of what he should be looking to improve.
The most frustrating lack of development has been with Jaden Springer’s perimeter shooting. The best area of his offense will likely be his ability to attack the basket. However, in the modern NBA, every player, and especially all guards, must be able to shoot three-pointers. Long-range shots have become increasingly important, and if Springer can not show signs of growth, it does not bode well for his NBA future.
The most discouraging aspect is the lack of confidence Springer seems to have in the shot. There is nothing mechanically wrong with his form; in fact, he has a pretty good-looking shooting stroke. However, Springer looked noticeably nervous about pulling the trigger in the summer league and seems to only be willing when it is a clear open shot.
There is still reason to be optimistic about his jump shot, but his confidence needs to improve. In his lone season of college, Springer shot 43.5% on three-pointers although he attempted just 1.8 per game. During the regular season in the G-League last year, he shot just 24.1% (3.1 3PA), and in the showcase, he shot 28% (2.8 3PA). If Springer is to become a legitimate rotational piece in the NBA, he must become a league-average three-point shooter, and this must be a point of emphasis in his development.
Best Route of Development
While it would be nice for Springer to be ready for regular rotational minutes this season, this is not the case. Given the improvements made to the bench and Doc Rivers’ unwillingness to allow young players to play through their mistakes, there simply is not much of a role for Springer on the Sixers this season.
The best route for him to continue growing is to spend another season with the Delaware Blue Coats. The more basketball that Springer plays, the better at this point, and allowing him to get more touches at the G-League level would be the right decision.
While most hope a first-round pick is more NBA-ready than Jaden Springer has shown to be, there are still some really intriguing attributes in his game. He has a strong frame and could hold up on the defensive side of the ball right now. His perimeter shooting is a work in progress, but Springer does a nice job navigating to his spots in the midrange and capitalizing.
Whether or not he fits the Sixers timeline is a different question, but there is reason to believe Jaden Springer can be a productive NBA role player in the long run. However, for the time being, the Sixers must continue to be patient in their approach.
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