This 76ers player is making history in the G-League

Jaden Springer, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Jaden Springer, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Jaden Springer with the 28th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Since then, he has played a grand total of 59 NBA minutes. Springer’s time with the big-league team has been sparse, to the point where there’s day-to-day entertainment derived from tracking Springer’s G-League call-ups and call-downs.

That said, Springer is starting to put his name on the map in Philadelphia and beyond. Still just 20 years old, the Tennessee product has experienced quite the sophomore breakout for the Delaware Blue Coats. And now, he’s putting on an absolute masterclass in the G-League playoffs.

Delaware faced the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in Game One of the G-League Finals on Tuesday — and won. The engine driving their success was none other than Springer, who dropped a dazzling 43 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks. You read that correctly: five blocks for the 6-foot-4 guard.

Jaden Springer is starting to emerge as a real piece of the 76ers’ future

The No. 17 prospect on our 2021 NBA Draft Big Board, Springer felt like highway robbery with the 28th pick a few years back. He was extremely young, but possessed all the tools of a future role player extraordinaire. He was a long-term investment for the Sixers, and now looking ahead to 2023-24 (his third NBA season), we may soon start seeing the return on that investment.

The biggest roadblock between Springer and NBA success might be his head coach. Doc Rivers has long struggled to develop young talent, instead preferring to ride the “steady hands” of vets like Montrezl Harrell. It took Paul Reed two years to really stake his claim on the backup center spot and who knows what Tyrese Maxey’s career would look like if Ben Simmons’ holdout hadn’t forced Rivers’ hand.

That said, the new NBA-NBPA collective bargaining agreement will make it harder for high-spending teams to flesh out their rosters with veteran talent. That will increase the importance of adding young, affordable, team-controlled talent through the draft. If players like Shake Milton and Georges Niang become too expensive to retain in the offseason, then Philadelphia could have no choice but to bank on the development of young Springer.

And, by the looks of it, there’s every reason to believe Springer’s NBA future is bright. At 20 years old, he’s already a gifted on-ball defender who’s equally dynamic off the ball, snaking his way into passing lanes and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting drivers from the weak side. Again, FIVE. BLOCKS. Springer’s head is always on a swivel and he’s a unique athlete, built with the power and lateral quickness of a NFL linebacker.

Now, his offense is catching up to his defense. Springer still needs to improve his 3-point shot, but he made significant progress in Delaware this season (31.9 percent on 3.8 attempts, compared to 24.1 percent on 3.1 attempts last season). Otherwise, there’s a lot to like. He’s a nifty slasher who’s great at rumbling downhill and using his broad shoulders to plow through defenders en route to the basket. He makes solid reads passing the ball, he’s a willing cutter, and he should be able to do enough of the little things to maintain offensive viability even if the 3-point shot remains inconsistent.

Springer’s dominant postseason with the Blue Coats is only the beginning of what promises to be a long and successful career. Those who were patient with the youngster have to be feeling well-rewarded right about now. It can be easy to get restless with young players on a team committed to winning the championship, but with the new CBA in place and a pivotal offseason on the horizon, Springer’s time is coming in Philadelphia.

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