Ahead of their Sunday night bout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Philadelphia 76ers made some moves on the back end of their roster. Consequently, the team’s pick in the first round of the 2021 NBA draft will be getting a change of scenery.
Rookies Jaden Springer and Aaron Henry have been assigned to the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats, as relayed by The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Keith Pompey and others. They’ll both report to the team’s training camp on Monday.
Neither player had netted a spot in Doc Rivers’ regular rotation. During the Sixers’ first two games, Springer and Henry logged a combined four minutes of court time. Only Henry has even attempted a shot.
Finding His Spot
Despite his status as a late first-rounder with middling athleticism, there’s definitely a lot to like about Springer, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Just ask the people that were around him during his lone collegiate season at Tennessee.
Via The Athletic:
“Understanding off-the-ball defense, scouting reports, schemes,” associate head coach Michael Schwartz, the Vols’ de facto defensive coordinator, said of Springer as a defender. “What we’re trying to do, personnel-wise and scouting-wise. The mindset, the mentality, the tenacity, when you don’t have to harp on those things for a player who is that talented offensively, that goes a long way.”
One thing he might want to work on with the Blue Coats is defining his NBA position. That’s something that Rivers alluded to during training camp.
“Just trying to find a position where he can fit in. I think here [the Sixers NBA G-League facility] will be big for him,” Rivers said, via Pompey. “I think [Sixers G-League coach] Coby [Karl] is gonna be great for Jaden and all the young guys as well.”
Although Springer is something of a combo guard, his best spot defensively may actually be at the point. His 202-pound frame, 6-foot-7.75 wingspan and 8-foot-3 standing reach could help him become a matchup nightmare for opposing floor generals if he develops properly.
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The Long Haul
Although Springer has barely played through Philly’s first two regular-season games, he received an extended look during the preseason. It didn’t go particularly well, though, especially on the offensive end. Over his four exhibition appearances, Springer equaled Henry with a team-low scoring mark of 2.5 points per game.
He also shot just 27.8% from the floor, was 0-of-2 from deep and had more turnovers (six) than assists (four).
Clearly, Springer has some work to do before he’s ready to contribute at the NBA level (or, more specifically, for a good NBA team). As such, his G League assignment shouldn’t be looked at as some kind of demotion. He needs court time more than anything, and the Blue Coats can provide him that.
Ultimately, it’s all part of the process of developing young players. And where Springer is concerned, Philly is likely in it for the long haul.
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