Why drafting Jaden Springer was a mistake by the 76ers
Going into the NBA Draft on Thursday 76ers fans were left with many questions hoping to be answered on draft night. Many wondered if Ben Simmons would be traded and if the 76ers would would trade or move away from their first round draft pick. One question regarding the 28th pick was answered, with the 76ers’ selection of Jaden Springer.
Jaden Springer is a 6’4′, 204-pound point guard who played his college ball at Tennessee. In his only year there Springer averaged 12.5 points and just under 3 assists a game. The now 18-year-old also dealt with a nagging ankle injury that kept him out of a good chunk of games for the Volunteers.
In a vacuum, grabbing Jaden Springer at the 28th pick was somewhat of a steal in the eyes of many. Many NBA scouts had Springer ranked above 28, with Jonathan Wasserman even ranking him as high as the 12th overall prospect. It isn’t hard to see why, Springer showed a ton of promise in his limited minutes with the volunteers.
What makes Jaden Springer so likeable starts with his defense. Jaden is one of the most aggressive on-ball defenders in the draft, thanks to a combination of quick feet and active hands that disrupt ball carriers. Combine that with an elite ability to cut off drives even with a quick dribble move to switch direction and you’ve got yourself a great defender. Springer showed that he could confidentially guard 1-3 in his short time as a Volunteer, as his defense doesn’t just lie with on ball defense. If Jaden is left to guard a shooter his quickness and long wingspan (nearly 6’8″) make it easy for him to close out on shooters. All of this screams Sixers scrappy defense.
Even on the offensive end, there is a lot to like about Jaden Springer, but the problem is of sample size. Springer has a nice fluid jump shot, which helped him to shooting 43-percent from three in his only collegiate season. However, that 43-percent came on just under two attempts from deep a game. A small sample size also doesn’t help him in other offensive categories. For example, in his lone season at Tennessee Springer only converted 28-percent of his jump shots inside the arc.
Despite all of those red flags, none of those are why I think selecting Jaden Springer at pick 28 was a mistake. The real reason lies with who was still on the board, and where the 76ers are now as a franchise. Despite the sad ending to the 2020-21 season, there’s no denying the Sixers are still a win now team. Regardless of where Ben Simmons ends up, Joel Embiid is very much in his prime. That window won’t be open long thanks to Embiid’s overall health issues and the general career path of seven-footers going into their 30s.
Knowing all of that, how does it make any sense to draft Jaden Springer, an 18-year-old who doesn’t even have a full year of college ball experience, onto a win now team. Believe me I understand Springer has a high-ceiling and a lot of great NBA traits, but he will take time to develop. Time that Philly doesn’t have. How do you pass on guys like Jared Butler and Miles McBride on the board, who not only played more college ball but understand winning on big stages.
While I do believe that the Sixers will develop Jaden Springer into a good NBA player, his impact for the 76ers right now is low. Daryl Morey had an opportunity to draft a guard that could make a difference right off the bat, and missed his chance. With all the trade rumors and a stacked free agency, who even knows if Springer actually suits up for Philly next season.
Mandatory Credit: Mark Humphrey.