In the latest edition of 'P.I. Pulse,' Pro Insight's Aneesh Namburi conducts a deep dive analysis on Tennessee's projected lottery pick, Jaden Springer:
Jaden Springer came to Knoxville as part of Rick Barnes’ decorated 2020 recruiting class after a high profile prep career, most notably at IMG Academy where he was part of their national championship team his junior year. He took over the starting spot early in SEC play and turned in multiple high scoring efforts throughout the rest of the year. A power guard who is also one of the youngest players in the draft, Springer is a highly functional athlete for his age who has potential in a multitude of modern skills. Below is an in-depth scouting report that covers every aspect of his game and how it translates to the NBA, where his strengths lie in addition to potential areas of improvement.
Date of Birth 9/25/12002
Weight 205 lbs.
Wingspan 6' 7.5"
Fractured bone in his foot in the spring/summer of 2019; sprained ankle that caused him to miss chunk of senior year; sprained ankle in January 2021
High: Sub All-Star guard/wing hybrid. Above-average shooter both on and off the ball. Advantage downhill driver/cutter, elite in transition, especially in grab-and-go situations. Willing enough as a shooter where teams can’t take away drives, one of the better downhill attackers in the PnR; high-level scorer. Uses scoring gravity to open up consistent passing windows. Elite defender at the PoA, tough for offense to get around him due to physical tools (strength, length, lateral speed) and stays attached on ball screens. Positive team defender, improves positioning and can consistently create plays off the ball. Grows to solid wing size and can guard 1-through-5.
Median: Low-usage scorer. Solid shooter on lower volume with versatility, puts pressure on D. Advantage downhill driver/cutter in the half-court, effective in transition. Can score at the rim or off PU in PnR, inconsistent passing reads limits him from high usage. Positive defender at the PoA, tough for offense to get around him due to physical tools (strength, length, lateral speed) and stays attached on ball screens. Solid team defender, tendency to ball watch occasionally but overall a plus. Switches 1-through-4.
Low: Bottom rotation 3&D guard. Passable spot-up shooter but reluctant to shoot. Advantage downhill driver/cutter in the half-court, effective in transition off the ball. Teams force him to shoot in the PnR, making lanes tougher and reducing pass optimization. Positive defender at the PoA, tough for offense to get around him due to physical tools (strength, length, lateral speed) and stays attached on ball screens. Neutral team defender, out of position semi-occasionally but creates events + can switch positions 1-through-4.
Especially given his age, Springer is a plus-athlete in a power guard’s body. To start, he is one of the more physically developed prospects in terms of strength at his age. With a powerful lower half that generates power and a broad/thick chest and shoulders, Springer can bully past players on offense and uses his frame to prevent most matchups from getting through him. While he doesn’t possess great burst, his positive lateral foot speed, ability to slide, hip flexibility, and length covers this area of this game and should allow him to pose additional problems as a defender covering the perimeter. Springer has thrown many evaluators/scouts off with his reliance on getting off the ground with two feet and the issues that could present in terms of his ability to get off the ground quick, but 1) his combination of strength and standalone vertical numbers seems to work well enough 2) it seems likely he can work on adding takeoff diversity when he needs to get in the air quicker. In terms of potential negatives, an idea that has been mentioned is that gaining hip flexibility on offense will limit Springer’s power generation on his go-to moves, his strength based drives. It’s not fair to make a conclusion due to a lack of body mechanics understanding, but it could be something to look into or monitor.
Might still have some room to grow: dad and two older brothers all at least 6-foot-9
Youngest American prospect in the draft
Plus-wingspan (+3ish) for position
Big guard size, could move up the lineup to a wing or a guard/wing hybrid as physical development rounds out
Jumps off two feet almost every time; solid vertical which works fine in tandem with strength but will need to incorporate more one-foot takeoffs for instances where he needs quicker pop
Passable burst/quickness; works well coupled w/ his strength, but likely doesn’t hold up on its own
Positive lower body mobility and flexibility; slides well laterally (fluid + quick feet); strength + shorter legs might limit hip flexibility a touch but overall will be fine
Excellent frame with elite balance; stacked for an 18-year-old with power trunk + lower half, broad chest/shoulders; uses strength as primary means for generating advantages
Springer already possesses highly translatable NBA skills offensively, and has shown the potential and ability to round out the rest of his offensive game to turn into a high-level guard creator. Every successful guard prospect in the modern NBA needs to have a standout skill in order to create advantages, and Springer’s combination of size and strength to get to the hoop does just that. There will need to be some development in terms of take off versatility, but he should project as a sub-elite finisher once/if that comes around. In order to transform into a true offensive threat (specifically out of the pick-and-roll), he will need to develop more comfort with his jumper both on and off the ball, as well as add consistency to his decision making in terms of aggressiveness and reactivity. Springer should also translate to the NBA as an off-ball transition scorer due to his aforementioned physical tools. His flashes as a cutter, possessing specific utility in hand-off scenarios that gets him downhill, should provide utility in the case that his shooting does not come around. Tennessee ran tons of post ups this season, and Springer was arguably the largest beneficiary of that system. While it is probably efficient to put him in these positions situationally, it is important to take away the potential reliance on the plays.
Half court: 64.9% of