LAS VEGAS — As an 18-year-old taken late in the first round of the NBA draft, there’s no pressure on Jaden Springer. The expectation is it will take some time for the combo guard to find his footing with the 76ers.
He only started 15 games as a freshman last season at Tennessee. Even though he’s a good athlete who’s aggressive on defense, Springer will most likely be behind reserve guards Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, and Isaiah Joe on the depth chart.
But he’s shown some talent while playing here in Sin City the past week with the Sixers’ Summer League team.
“He actually is pretty refined,” said Sixers assistant Brian Adams, who is coaching the summer league squad. “He has a nice ability to kind of drive by [defenders], two foot stops and in the paint, [and] create plays.
“He’s not just a raw one-on-one defender. He’s picked up our schemes really well.”
After five days of training camp, Monday marked the first chance fans got to see for themselves.
In the starting lineup with Maxey and Joe, Springer played small forward in the Sixers’ 95-73 NBA Summer League victory over the Dallas Mavericks at the Thomas & Mack Center.
His defense was as good as advertised, finishing with two blocks in 24 minutes of action. However, the jitters from playing his first professional game impacted him offensively early on.
Springer missed his first five shots en route to shooting 1-for-7 in the first half. He responded after intermission, making his first three attempts and finishing 4-for-12 for the game. Springer had 11 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and 4 turnovers in addition to his 2 blocks. He made 1-of-3 three-pointers and shot 2-for-3 from the foul line.
For Springer, it was a matter of getting the first-game nerves out of the way.
“Now next game,” he said, “I feel like I’m going to be out there and be myself.”
Springer definitely settled down in the second half on Monday. Adams was asked if he spoke to him about slowing down at halftime. He did not.
“I just think there’s levels to all this,” Adams said. “You go from a season in college where it’s COVID rules and there’s zero fans to a training camp [last week] with a bunch of NBA guys and we have a good amount of ... second-year guys on our team.
“So you go into training camp, there’s an adjustment to that. And you go over to [Thomas & Mack]. It wasn’t super crowded but ... you are in a live arena event. On paper for these guys, this is their first NBA experience. So it’s going to take you a little to settle down a little bit, and I think he adjusted really quick.”
Sixers staff changes
Popeye Jones is no longer part of the Sixers’ coaching staff. Jones, who was hired as the team’s big-man coach last season, left to join the Denver Nuggets’ coaching staff. The Nuggets job affords him the opportunity to be one of the top assistants. The Sixers have also parted ways with team security director Juan Jackson, according to sources who said Jackson did not have his contract renewed.