76ers under-25 rankings: Which young prospects have the brightest future?

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

2. Jaden Springer

Jaden Springer was 18 years old when the Sixers selected him with the 28th pick in 2021. To put his youth in context, Springer is only four months older than projected 2023 lottery picks Amen and Ausar Thompson. The Sixers made an investment in the future, and we’re starting to see the return on that investment.

Springer has dominated down the stretch for the Blue Coats. He’s putting the pieces together offensively. He doesn’t pop off the screen vertically, but Springer is built strong at 6-foot-4. He has a talent for rumbling downhill and finding angles to score at the rim or pass to the open teammate. If his 3-point shot continues to progress, it won’t be long until he’s ready for minutes with the real squad.

The main appeal with Springer — and why the Sixers drafted him two years ago — is defense. He fights over screens, makes his presence felt with physicality at the point of attack, and he’s a menace off the ball. Watching Springer leap into passing lanes or sneak into the paint for a block, Dwyane Wade-style, is a singular joy.

1. Tyrese Maxey

There’s no other possible answer here. There are valid concerns about Maxey’s defense now and long-term, but he’s already an elite volume shooter who is becoming more and more comfortable creating his own shots off the dribble.

The arrival of James Harden has catapulted Maxey to his own level of stardom (or at least borderline stardom). He doesn’t create much for others yet, but Maxey is perfectly engineered to take advantage of rotating defenses that are preoccupied with stopping Embiid in the middle and Harden at the top of the key. Let Maxey catch the ball on the wing with downhill momentum and a step on his defender and it’s curtains. His body control and touch while running full speed at the rim is unmatched.

There’s every reason to believe that, with more time and reps, Maxey can improve as a facilitator. If the Sixers do eventually lose Harden, a larger playmaking burden will fall on Maxey’s lap — and that’s when we will learn the true extent of his stardom. For now, however, it’s best to enjoy him in the ideal third-option role. If the Sixers want to win the title, now or in the future, Maxey will have to play a significant part.

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