This week saw the return of the NBA G-League, and with that the return of second-year shooting guard Jaden Springer. Despite a tough 1-2 start for the Sixers’ Delaware Blue Coats – including a neck-and-neck game against the Capital City Go-Gos on Thursday – Springer continues to demonstrate his NBA potential.
Jaden Springer takes a step forward
The Sixers’ 2021 first-round draft pick is primarily known for his defensive capabilities. Last season, he averaged 3.1 defensive rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. However, he’s struggled offensively, shooting just 47% from the field and 24% from deep. During this season’s opener on the road, he only put up seven points, all in the first half.
But though he’s still a work in progress – understandably, as he only just turned 20 years old – Springer has shown flashes of promise. His scoring production has improved, putting up 12 points (1-1 from 3) on Saturday and a whopping 28 points in Thursday night’s home opener against the Capital City Go-Gos, including 2 of 6 from deep.
Jaden Springer had a solid defensive showing on Thursday as well, winning two contested steals along with 2 defensive rebounds and 1 block. Despite a couple misses – the team struggled early on in transition defense, committing 13 total turnovers throughout the night – Springer was largely consistent. He makes smart reads, often seeming to know just where to be to break up passes.
Thursday’s game was really representative of both the potential that Jaden Springer brings as well as opportunities for him to continue to refine his game. While concerns about his offensive production remain, he appears comfortable in both step-back shots as well as creating lanes to pass.
Indeed, where Jaden primarily seemed to find himself in trouble was on the dribble, when he wasn’t able to step back from the pressure and make a pass. Moreover, his shooting form looked good, he was 4-4 from the line, and in multiple instances took an extra half-second with the ball in his hands to set his feet before taking a shot. “For me, just opening up space”, Springer said after the game. “They like to stay in the gaps, so I feel like if I slow down and pull it back out, they can’t sit in those gaps….and I can take a shot or attack [the basket].
While Springer likely continue to have ball-handling responsibilities in the G-League, the Sixers may indeed look to position him in more of a combo role in the future. If he continues to grow his defensive potential while getting more comfortable in a catch-and-shoot role, Springer may very well grow into a meaningful contributor as the Sixers look to shore up their defense. By focusing on his strengths while simplifying his offensive role to minimize his weaknesses, the Sixers have the opportunity to develop the very piece they’ve long been missing.
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire