Jaden Springer enters the 2021 NBA Draft as the second-youngest prospect in his class after a solid year with the Tennessee Volunteers. He is a sturdy guard listed at 6’4, 204-pounds with a solid 6’8 wingspan and averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists on 46-47-81 shooting splits. Springer has the potential to be a great two-way guard and should appeal to NBA teams given his age and skill set.
NBA Draft Profile: Tennessee Volunteers Star Jaden Springer
Springer had a nice college season playing as an elite defender and primary playmaker at the University of Tennessee. His best game in college was against Southern rivals the Georgia Bulldogs. The 18-year-old dropped 30 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals on 82 percent shooting, 75 percent from three, and 75 percent from the line. It was an exquisite performance from Springer who scored from the block, drives, and caught fire from the three-point line.
In the NCAA Tournament, Tennessee lost 70-56 to Oregon State in the first round. Springer played great defense in the loss but failed to really assert himself on the offensive end. The Volunteers were anemic on offense in the first half of the loss scoring just 19 points despite Springer creating a number of good looks. The issue was they didn’t need creation, they needed scoring and needed him to be aggressive. Tennessee woke up in the second half but failed to get stops and couldn’t close the gap. Tennessee finished the game shooting 33 percent from the field (33.3) and 19.2 percent (5-26) from three.
While it was a tough way to end the College season, Springer showed flashes of excellence.
Springer’s biggest asset is his defense. He possesses fast feet, great anticipatory skills, and a high-level understanding of defensive positioning. He uses his sturdy build to keep players in front of him, using angles to cut off driving lanes and uses his chest to avoid fouls in isolation. Springer’s on-ball defense is somewhat reminiscent of Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry – competitive, smaller guards with exceptional strength.
Of course, Springer is three to four inches taller than Lowry but his bulldog mentality is the same.
One of the growing trends in the NBA is the ability for guards to score on the block. Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday are two guards who do this effectively, using their physical tools to overpower their counterparts or play make on the block. Springer showed both of these traits at Tennessee.
He was able to play bully ball and finish over opponents with a fadeaway jumper or simply rise up over defenses. However, his most impressive skill was his ability to show patience. He allows plays to unfold and hits cutters with beautiful passes. Springer is creative and flashes intelligence to survey the court and make the right pass, particularly on post actions.
The 18-year-old is an interesting guard who appears likely to be a high-level secondary ball-handler at the next level.
His biggest weakness is creating offense for himself of the bounce. Springer is solid in post-up situations but doesn’t possess a strong enough handle to freeze or beat players off the dribble. He is a straight line, power driver who creates space using his body rather than skill. This creates issues when Springer is guarded by high-level defenders who match him in strength. He needs to develop more skill moves to get by his assignments. If he doesn’t, he will have a hard time beating players to the cup.
Springer’s three-point shooting is more of a concern than a weakness given he shot 41.3 percent from distance. There are question marks about his shot being real given his extremely low volume as a starting guard (1.8 attempts per game). Springer wasn’t a reluctant shooter but preferred to take shots in the midrange. However, the NBA is predicated on shooting from distance thus he will need to be ready to pull the trigger on both contested and uncontested jumpers.
He has a nice, fluid motion starting at the base of his jumper with power transferred evenly to the top. The one aspect of his jumper that may need to be tweaked is on his release. He appears to release it a little too early and this is more obvious when his attempts are contested as they fall short. This is such a small change that it shouldn’t take him long before he becomes a solid threat from the outside.
NBA Draft Projection
Jaden Springer is a lottery talent given his abilities on both sides of the ball but needs some fine-tuning at the next level. Mock Drafts have the 18-year-old between picks 12 and 24 but he’s higher on my board. He possesses a lot of talent and his playstyle reminds me of a Lowry/Holiday clone.
Springer is a Top-10 talent in my opinion and should go between seven and 12.
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