Skip to main content

Doc Rivers’ Bold Statement on Jaden Springer

Doc Rivers let Jaden Springer praise fly on Tuesday night.

The Philadelphia 76ers have their fair share of talented and proven defensive talents. Sixers center Joel Embiid has established himself as one of the best rim protectors in the NBA. Meanwhile, Matisse Thybulle and De’Anthony Melton are up there with some of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.

Following Tuesday night’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons, Doc Rivers made it clear that he believes the former first-round draft pick Jaden Springer has the skill set to join that group.

“I’m telling you, he is, you know, we talk about De’Anthony [Melton], and this is probably a hell of a statement, but I think he’s gonna be an elite defender,” Rivers said after the game. “I really do.”

Springer hasn’t really received a chance to show what he can do on the NBA level. Since getting drafted by the Sixers, he’s appeared in just eight regular season games across two seasons. Currently, Springer averages 3.8 minutes per game, with all of his playing time coming in garbage time.

That was the case again on Tuesday, but the Sixers had a comfortable enough lead to offer nearly nine minutes of playing time to Springer. And the young guard made the most of that opportunity against a struggling Pistons team.

Getting up four shots from the field, Springer converted on all of his attempts for ten points. He also had two rebounds and one steal while playing aggressively on the defensive end. After helping the Sixers close out the night with a 31-point win, Springer finished his shift as a plus-six. 

“I think he’s naturally physical,” Rivers continued. “You know, he just has a chance to be a good player on the defensive end, and then the offensive part, about his cutting, his rebounding, he does things that he has a chance to be a good player. … He can be pretty special.”

With Springer spending most of his time in the G League, the Sixers only get a good look at him mostly during practice. While the reality is that Springer won’t see the court much outside of garbage time, considering the Sixers are in a championship or bust phase, the common message from the coaching staff and the locker room on Tuesday night was that it’s only a matter of time before Springer’s work ethic and development pays off. Tuesday night was just a sample for the public. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.