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Can Jaden Springer break through this season?

Jaden Springer is somehow still just 20 years old and showed signs of growth at the end of last season. Can he sneak his way into rotation minutes with the Sixers?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ready or not, another season of 76ers basketball is right around the corner. With that being said, it is once again time for preseason player profiles at Liberty Ballers.

We already looked at the two-way guys and players the team has signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, Filip Petrusev and Furkan Korkmaz, looking forward to how they could impact the team in the 2023-24 season.

Jaden Springer

Age: 20 (will turn 21 on Sept. 25)

Contract status: Third year of four-year, $10.4 million rookie deal; $2.2 million for 2023-24; $4.0 million team option for 2024-25; RFA in 2025

Jaden Springer’s first two seasons in the NBA were what you’d expect from a very young player on a contending team taken at the backend of the first round. Thus far, nearly all of his playing time has been in the G League with the Delaware Blue Coats, producing some mixed results.

In year one, he solidified himself as one of the better defenders in the G League. However, his offensive game needed time and refinement to catch up to his defensive capabilities. For example, his handle was loose for a guard and he struggled shooting the ball from deep — around 24% on decent volume.

Thankfully, in year two we saw some steady progression from Springer. In 24 G League games, he improved his three-point percentage nearly 8 points to 32% on higher volume. His free throw percentage also increased from 65 percent in year one to 77.5 percent in year two. Still plenty of room for improvement, but he’s been trending in the right direction.

Springer ended his sophomore year with a stellar G League postseason run, averaging over 27 points per game while shooting above 45 percent from three. At the end of the NBA season, Doc Rivers called upon him to start as their key players rested down the regular season stretch. Springer not only held his own, he excelled against one of the best in the NBA in Trae Young.

Now, he’ll look for this recent success to transfer over to the Sixers as he looks to carve out a role with a new head coach.

Season outlook: The Sixers’ roster has a loaded backcourt, with players like Tyrese Maxey, James Harden (maybe?) and De’Anthony Melton guaranteed to get playing time. Factor in the newly-signed Patrick Beverley, who is likely to be in the rotation somehow, and it’s hard to figure out where exactly Springer can get playing time.

It’s possible that Springer’s only chance to seriously carve out a role might come early on in the season. There’s a solid chance Harden never returns, or that he does and doesn’t try at all; which would result in him likely being banished from the team. This means there would be a gapping hole for playing time at a guard spot. Sure, Melton and Beverley are likely to soak up most of this opportunity, but knowing how Nurse likes to experiment it’s expected Springer would be called upon at some point.

Springer isn’t a huge “wing” by today’s standards at only 6-foot-4, but there’s a chance you could play a small ball lineup alongside Melton or Beverley — two players who have shown they can guard bigger players. The Sixers’ wing spot looks seriously thin, and there’s a legit argument that Springer might be the best defender in the group of Danny Green, Danuel House Jr. and Furkan Korkmaz.

On the offensive side, the Sixers also are going to call upon others to create and actually dribble the ball. As stated above, Springer’s handle isn’t a strong suit as of right now, but he is one of the few capable players on the roster that can dribble. Would you rather have him, Melton or Bev dribbling the basketball? (No easy answer there.)

Regardless of the Harden situation, Nick Nurse and the Sixers would be wise to get Jaden Springer a legitimate chance at some point. Apart from a single game, Rivers never looked his direction despite noticeable growth in the G League. The team has a ton of uncertainty surrounding it, but there’s a chance Springer could blossom with newfound opportunities.

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