PJ Tucker Pumps Brakes on Sixers Youngster: ‘Doesn’t Even Know How to Play Yet’

PJ Tucker Philadelphia 76ers

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

There’s been quite a bit to like about the Philadelphia 76ers through two preseason games.

For starters, the team is 2-0 behind two electric performances by Tyrese Maxey. Paul Reed is giving Montrezl Harrell a run in the backup big spot, though the latter secured Philadelphia’s win against the Cavaliers Wednesday with a tough drive and finish in the closing seconds. All the while, Joel Embiid and James Harden are easing back into things, careful not to overdo it in these otherwise meaningless games.

Some eyes have also been focused on Jaden Springer, who is entering his sophomore season after spending much of his rookie campaign in the G-League. Against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, Springer finished with seven points, two blocks, and two rebounds.

The excitement behind Springer’s defense is warranted. But PJ Tucker wants everyone to hold their horses on the youngster.

“He doesn’t even know how to play yet, that’s the crazy part,” Tucker said, per Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. “He’s just out there bulldozing, I love it. I hype him up every day, I love it. He plays really hard and he’s learning but he’s a kid. We know that he’s already giving that energy and effort every day. And he doesn’t even talk yet, that’s the craziest part. He just does things.”

Even if Springer is still a little ways away, he drew rave reviews at training camp last week.

Doc Rivers Speaks on Springer’s Defense

During training camp, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers acknowledged what Springer brings to the table on one end of the floor.

“Jaden Springer. I don’t think any of our guys want to see him defensively,” Rivers said, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “We have to find what he can do offensively, obviously… He was 18. He’s not there yet. I can tell you that now. He’s not there yet, but he’s gonna get there and he’s gonna keep improving.”

If the Sixers could count on Springer in the near future, he could become the latest success story in a string of recent misses. While the Sixers look like they’ve struck oil in Tyrese Maxey (and potentially Paul Reed), the team also whiffed hard on Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Zhaire Smith, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz.

Fortunately, Springer has no shortage of potential mentors to shape his game after on this current Sixers squad.

Springer Could Learn From Tucker, Melton, and Thybulle

This summer, the Sixers went out and added PJ Tucker and De’Anthony Melton to help give the rotation a bit of a defensive identity. While neither one lights it up offensively, both do just enough to keep opposing defenses honest.

Springer could take a page out of Tucker and Melton’s playbook, as well as Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle, like Springer, boasts legit defensive chops but has yet to form a meaningful offensive game. Unsurprisingly, Springer was spotted putting in work similar to what Thybulle did this summer: adding the corner three.

Tucker thrives on the corner three and likely will continue to do so in Philadelphia’s offense. Learning from those guys ahead of him could help Springer compete for a real role in the not-to-distant future.

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