For a second consecutive season, the Sixers decided to stay put in the NBA draft and select a one-and-done guard.
The team took Jaden Springer with the 28th pick in Thursday night’s draft.
The 18-year-old Springer averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists at Tennessee. He’s a strong, athletic player with a solid defensive foundation. Springer posted a 2.7 steal percentage and 2.0 block percentage in college.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is enthusiastic about the player Springer could become.
“Jaden’s really exciting," Morey said in a press conference early Friday morning via Zoom. “I know GMs get killed for talking about upside, but he’s not 19 yet, already a productive player at Tennessee. We feel good about his ability to be a 3-and-D player in this league. We all know how valuable they are.
“He was a top high school recruit, which I think often points to a good pool of players to pick from. ... So we’re really excited about Jaden. He’s in a position where you could see a path to him potentially getting on the floor. Usually it takes a rookie more than a year, but you never know.”
Springer shot the ball well last season, making 43.5 percent of his three-pointers and 81 percent of his free throws. However, he appears to have room to develop as a shooter, since his jumper is not the most fluid.
Morey is fully aware Springer wasn't a frequent three-point shooter at Tennessee — 46 total attempts — but believes he'll improve over time beyond the NBA arc.
“Obviously he had a good track record in college, but limited," Morey said. “I think you’re touching on an important thing: He made a very high percentage of his threes in college but often the volume will tell you a little bit more. We think his shooting will be something that probably right out of the gate, we wouldn’t expect him to come in and bang 40 percent of NBA threes.
“But we know he’s a worker. We know he has the ability. We know he has touch around the rim and can make free throws. All those things often indicate someone who can shoot later. (Head coach Doc Rivers) has bolstered his coaching staff with a shooting skill person who we’re excited to have work with (Springer) and others. We’re going to have a plan for him. He’s not even 19, so the sky’s the limit with Jaden.”
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor compared Springer, who measured in at 6-foot-3 without shoes and 202 pounds at the NBA draft combine, to Kyle Lowry and Malcolm Brogdon. Those are lofty names to be mentioned alongside, but Springer does have a well-rounded game for his age and possesses playmaking potential, especially if his jumper pans out and defenses need to respect his shot.
Jared Butler, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and Miles McBride from West Virginia were among the other players available at No. 28 that would perhaps have made sense for the Sixers on paper.
Springer will overtake Tyrese Maxey, the team’s selection at No. 21 last year, as the youngest Sixer.