Jaden Springer Is Waiting For His Moment
A team aiming to win a championship in the next year or two is not always the perfect landing spot for a young player, let alone one drafted at just 18 years old.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
It was a Sixers highlight like any other -- Matisse Thybulle made an acrobatic steal, launching the ball into a sea of blue as he fell into the visitor’s bench. The ball ended up in the hands of De’Anthony Melton, who twirled around his defender and finished a tough layup. To the average spectator, it was the conclusion of a dominant Sixers win over the 11-32 Detroit Pistons. But to Jaden Springer, it was a call to action.
Springer, 20, has spent most of his first two NBA seasons shuttling back and forth between the Sixers’ main roster and that of their G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. Delaware is where Springer sees consistent action on the floor and puts his work to the test; in Philadelphia he must zoom out and process what he sees from the bench.
Springer’s only path to consistent NBA minutes is closing out a game already out of reach. What some refer to as “garbage time” is just the opposite for Springer, who uses those minutes to accumulate as much valuable experience as he can.
And so, in a game which the Sixers led by 26 points, in came Springer. Calm as ever, he scored 10 quick points. He hammered home a missed shot by Furkan Korkmaz when Detroit neglected to put a body on him. He scored a basket wisely cutting to the rim when his defender fell asleep. He picked a player’s pocket, dribbled the length of the floor and finished at the rim. Springer, his composed self, showed little reaction as he put together a career-best performance. But his teammates reacted: the Sixers bench erupted at each basket, clearly elated for their youngest teammate as he capitalized on a chance to shine.
“It’s a great feeling,” Springer said of the support he receives from his teammates. “I feel like we really click.”
“Seeing my teammates cheer me on and stuff like that is big for me.”
Given the Sixers’ accelerated timeline, they’re reluctant to rely on a player as young and inexperienced as Springer. He understands that, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
“Of course I want to be out there playing,” Springer said. “But I guess that's not in the plans for the team yet.”
A team aiming to win a championship in the next year or two is not always the perfect landing spot for a young player, let alone one drafted at just 18 years old. He doesn’t see nearly as much action as he would if he played for a rebuilding team. But he manages to persist, remaining focused on the long run.
When the Sixers chose him 29th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, they signaled that despite having a very short-term view in the moment, they feel that with the right seasoning, Springer can become an important part of their future.
“I think he’s going to be an elite defender,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I really do.”
Springer has fans not just in the front office, but in the locker room, too. While he may not often get the chance to flash his skills in public, he’s shown noteworthy improvement in practices over the last two seasons.
“He’s really progressed his game and a lot of people don’t get to see it because of the makeup of the team,” said fellow Tennessee Volunteer Tobias Harris. “But he’s made great improvements.”
Springer, with quiet confidence in his ability and his work ethic, strives to meet the lofty expectations set by his most ardent believers.
“I got here for a reason,” he said.
As his sophomore season reaches its home stretch, Springer asserts he is ready to go whenever Rivers calls his name. For now, all he can do is put the work in. He knows his time is coming.
“Of course I’ve got stuff I’m working towards, but I just try to stay in the moment,” Springer said. “I have to keep getting better every day and stacking great days on top of great days.”