The case for Jaden Springer is simple. He is a strong, athletic do-it-all guard that serves as a point of attack menace on defense and has the ability to score from all three levels. He has ideal size and strength for an NBA guard and has shown some playmaking flashes that have my undivided attention.
Oh, and he can also do this:
Jaden Springer: Guard, 6’4.5″, 205 lbs., Tennessee, (18 years old).
Offensive role: Scoring guard/secondary creator
Defensive role: Defensive playmaker. Multi-position defender.
NBA projected role: Rotation player, starter upside.
Swing factor: Playmaking
ESPN 2021 Big Board: 39th (lol)
My general rank: Lottery (8-14 range)
- BPM: 7.4
- True Shooting Percentage: 61.1%
- STL Rate: 2.7%
- BLK Rate: 2.6%
- FT Rate: 49.3%
Springer was a 5-star recruit who was ranked 16th in the country by 247’s composite rankings. Jaden committed to Tennessee along with fellow 5-star guard Keon Johnson to bring palpable buzz to a on-the-rise Volunteers basketball program.
He graduated from IMG Academy in Florida, where won a national championship as a junior and was named a McDonald’s All-American under coach Sean McAloon. Springer is originally from North Carolina.
Jaden has already won a pair of SEC Freshman of the Week awards (12/21/20 and 2/1/21) for Tennessee, and is currently the Volunteers’ leading scorer as a freshman averaging 12.2 points per-game. He is starting to heat up as of late, averaging 24.6 PPG in his last three contests.
Before diving in too deep, here is my favorite Jaden Springer sequence of the season thus far:
Step-back three -> help side block at the rim -> draws three defenders and whips a crosscourt pass.
This is THE Jaden Springer sequence, and one of the best sequences I’ve ever seen of a prospect. pic.twitter.com/PTVyNdzpF0
— Robel (@robeltussin) February 7, 2021
Springer’s ability to get downhill through sheer strength and use of attacking off balance defenders is what allows him to score from all three levels.
He isn’t the most explosive as far as first step goes, but that doesn’t inhibit him from getting to his spots. Springer has excellent body control, change of pace/direction and can decelerate on the dime which allows him to get nearly anywhere he wants on the court.
While he is a scorer at heart, there have been multiple occasions where the passing has “popped” which leads me to believe that the playmaking is there, he just needs to learn how to unlock it on a consistent basis. We’ll dive into why/how he is a three-level scorer and drop in some passing highlights as well.
Here is a pristine example of him using his threat from deep to get the defender off balance with a quick pump fake. Watch the defender’s feet closely. Springer understands once he has him up he needs to attack the front (right) leg and he’ll have a step on him. The defender then scrambles to try cutting him off from getting to the rim, so Springer makes the strong jump stop into the pull-up for two.
Here’s another example of that exquisite body control and strength. Splits two defenders and absorbs the contact and makes a difficult play look effortless. This is the type of finishing that translates to the NBA.
Springer’s jumper is pure and his ability to load on catch-and-shoot triples should make him a more than viable off-ball floor spacing threat, which he’ll need to be given his projected role. He is shooting an elite 53.6% from 3 point range this season, and even though it’s on a relatively low volume (1.6 attempts per-game) the defenses have to respect him and close out hard on him.
Here you see him get loaded in a low shooting stance and ready his hands for the incoming pass, then splash. It’s cash.
This is the next step in the evolution of his game that could take him from being a solid player, to a great one.
Here you see him once again use the threat of his jumper to draw the defense, makes the second line defender overcommit and keeps in mind that he has an open man on the baseline as he spins, then executes the pass for the easy bucket. It’s subtle plays like this where he simply makes the right reads while drawing defenders that makes his offensive upside intriguing.
Being a willing passer when you’re known as a score-first guard is important. Springer gets it.
Tennessee is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and Springer is a major reason why through his pestering on-ball defense. There are moments where he has lapses when he’s off the ball that he needs to clean up. This is typical from athletically gifted freshman and should improve over time.
Here’s an example of how effective he can be on-ball, even against bigger wings such as potential 1st round pick Brandon Boston Jr. of Kentucky. Springer is just under 6’5″, but it won’t stop him from guarding up and taking on point of attack responsibilities against positions 1 through 3. He shows that ability here against the 6’7″ Boston.
Here’s an example of his off-ball defensive prowess. Watch him from the start of the possession as he’s communicating and directing his teammates from the jump. He then fights for position against 6’7″ forward Keion Brooks Jr. and doesn’t budge, then makes the perfect help side rotation to block the shot.
There are flashes where he displays elite instincts, timing and explosiveness, and when those three elements converge, it’s a sight to behold as Trevor alludes to on this play below:
Jaden Springer… hello.
Mississippi State (1/26/21) breaks the Tennessee press and gets the ball underneath the basket, but Springer makes a prompt rotation and meets Javian Davis at the summit with explosiveness and timing. What a block. pic.twitter.com/dJ7x4rxB1m
— Trevor William Marks (@twmarks_) February 9, 2021
Role in the NBA
Springer will likely find himself used as a secondary creator that can play on and off ball offensively, but on the other side of the floor is where his value should be extracted almost immediately. His on-ball defense meshed with his versatility on that end through his ability to guard multiple positions will be an attractive calling card for front offices.
If the playmaking continues to improve he could be suited for more on-ball reps as a point guard, but arguing over the semantics of his position is missing the mark here entirely. He is supremely talented and will find a way to impact the game on both sides of the floor. That’s that value he’ll provide at the next level, even if it takes him some time to figure it out.
Ideal pairings/fits that he could thrive alongside at the guard position(s) include:
- Memphis: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane
- Phoenix: Chris Paul, Devin Booker
- Atlanta: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter
- Chicago: Zach LaVine, Coby White
- New York: RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley
- New Orleans: Kira Lewis, Lonzo Ball
- Indiana: Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LaVert
For you March Madness heads, Tennessee is starting to figure out how to use Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer properly. If they can get things to click these next few games before the tournament starts then they are a team no one will want to face. Keep an eye out for Yves Pons as well as a stretch big that blocks and dunks everything in sight.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to one of the smartest prospect evaluators out there in Ross Homan for being well ahead of the curve on both Tennessee prospects. Here’s his preview for the Stepien on the 2021 NBA Draft back in last December: A Look Ahead to the 2021 Draft.
Be sure to check out our NBA Draft Zone page where we have 14+ scouting reports on potential 21′ or 22′ prospects.
Categories: NBA Draft