Sixers training camp, taking place in Charleston, South Carolina, is in full swing. It’s the prime time for the team to gain some chemistry, get familiar with new additions and see young players take a step in their respective growth.
Jaden Springer, the Sixers’ youngest player, might be the next guy to take some steps in his development. We’re now two days into the Sixers’ training camp and he’s caught the eyes of several Sixers. P.J. Tucker was the first to praise Springer’s play early on:
“He doesn’t even know how to play yet,” Tucker said (via Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire). “That’s the crazy part. He’s just out there just bulldozing. I love it. I’ll hype him up every day. I love it. He played really hard and he’s learning, but he’s a kid. He doesn’t even know yet and he’s already giving that effort and energy every day and he doesn’t even talk either. That’s the crazy part! He just does things and guys like that, especially during these times in the dog days of training camp, love to have him.”
Tucker has made a successful career for himself as a player that takes pride in doing the things most people wouldn’t — playing scrappy defense and diving for loose balls without demanding offensive touches. Few have matched Tucker’s effort and energy, and it’s telling to see him rave early on about Springer.
Coach Doc Rivers, who is notorious for favoring older vets, even had some high praise for the Sixers’ sophomore:
“Jaden Springer. I don’t think any of our guys want to see him defensively,” River said (via 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.”
We saw firsthand in Summer League how raw Jaden Springer was — most specifically on offense. The shot undoubtedly needs some refinement, as he only shot 24.1% from three in the G League, but it’s important to remember Springer just turned 20 years old. He hasn’t spent too much time at the NBA level, only six total minutes in his first season, and he’ll likely spend the majority of his time in the G League once again.
Springer’s defense has arrived, and his offense simply needs to catch up — but it might not be as long as some think. Tyrese Maxey, in particular, was impressed with Springer’s shooting so far in training camp.
“He’s growing, man. I push him because I love him,” Maxey said (via Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire). “He’s a year after me so I guess I’m a little big brother to him, but I’m proud of him. He’s shooting the ball well, too, and that’s going unnoticed. What he’s doing on the defensive end, pressuring and getting through screens, Spence (Coach Spencer Rivers, son of Doc Rivers) calls him ‘unscreenable’. To be unscreenable in the NBA, that’s a good job.”
It isn’t easy for any player to find their way in the NBA immediately, especially at Springer’s young age. He specifically touched on adjustments he had to make on the fly last season during the Sixers’ media day:
“I’d probably say just adapting to the game. College to the NBA, it’s a big jump; it’s faster, guys are smarter, stronger, more athletic. So being able to make that adjustment and finding your role, I feel like that’s the biggest thing coming into the league.”
This quote, combined with Tucker’s, really speaks volumes that Jaden Springer is willing to accept whatever role is being asked of him — which is huge for young players. Buying in and growing into a role is especially important for the Sixers and their win-now aspirations.
Springer’s work ethic, combined with some veteran guidance, have obviously done him some good. He specifically mentioned now former Sixer Danny Green as one of several players to help him find his way throughout the league:
“I’d go with all the guys. We’ve got Tobias [Harris]; we had Danny Green — Danny Green was great when he was here; Matisse [Thybulle], Shake [Milton] — everybody. Everybody would gravitate towards me, talk to me, show me things to do here and there during certain situations. … It was great to have some people like that.”
Now, Springer has multiple defensive talents to help him hone in his natural skill with Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and Thybulle. The offense seemingly needs some time to catch up, but it’s great to see the young 20-year-old catching some attention early on.