As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to navigate through their season, one of the underlying storylines has been the lack of development in Jaden Springer. The franchise selected the Tennessee product with the 28th overall pick in the 2021 draft with the knowledge that he would be a project. However, now in his second season, Springer has played just ten total minutes at the NBA level. The Sixers still appear unsure of his long-term positional fit and with them in such a clear win-now window, it cannot be ruled out him being used as a trade chip to complete the roster with players ready to contribute. With that said, there is no guarantee there is any desire for the 20-year-old around the rest of the NBA.
Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney spoke to an anonymous NBA general manager in an attempt to get to the bottom of this. As the executive spilled, “They would like to make him into a point guard and at his size (6-foot-4) and with the way he defends, that would be great if he could develop into that. He has upside, especially if he can play the point, even a little point. He is one of the guys, one of the G League guys who gets circled because everyone wants to see if it is working, maybe he is an extra asset in a trade or maybe he hits free agency if they need to make a move. He’s definitely being looked at.
Springer’s Play With the Blue Coats
So far this season with the Delaware Blue Coats, Springer is averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. The most significant step forward in his game has been his perimeter shooting as he is connecting on 40.0% of his long-range attempts while attempting 3.3 per game.
This was a point of concern entering the year as Springer shot just 28% on three-point attempts last season. During his lone year of college, he shot 43.5% from beyond the arc but attempted just 1.8 long-range attempts per game. Given the importance of perimeter shooting- especially at the guard position- this will be something to monitor as the season progresses.
As alluded to in the quote, his biggest impact will always be felt on the defensive end. As things currently stand, Springer is an NBA-level defender. His strong build and quick-twitch ability allow him to swallow up opposing ball handlers. He has flashed this during the summer league and has throughout his time in the G League.
Could Springer Get Time With the Sixers?
If there ever was a time to find out if Springer can handle NBA minutes, it would be now. The Sixers are heavily depleted due to injuries, especially at the guard position. With James Harden and Tyrese Maxey each out for the next few weeks with injuries, De’Anthony Melton, Shake Milton, and Furkan Korkmaz are set to be the only healthy guards on the roster.
The simple need for bodies should earn Springer an opportunity, however, it would be telling if the Sixers do not give him a chance. It should be noted that the second-year player is not fully healthy himself. Springer landed on the injury report with a quadriceps strain earlier this week. It is not expected to be a long-term injury with him set to be reevaluated early next week. Hopefully, he will be ready to take the court soon and get his opportunity with the Sixers.
The franchise has indicated enough belief in him to exercise his team option for next year which guarantees him $4.2 million. Whether his future involves being used as a trade chip or a developmental rotation player, it is worth getting a better idea of what he can be by providing him with some on-court opportunities. If things work out and Springer exceeds expectations, this could end up being the silver lining of the recent string of injuries. The Sixers need all the help they can get and hopefully he can answer the call if/win it goes his way.