Suns pick Tennessee’s Jaden Springer in ESPN’s latest NBA Draft

Jaden Springer (11) of Tennessee takes the ball down the field in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Nashville, TN (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Having just started their 2021 playoff series, the Phoenix Suns are a long way from putting the NBA Draft at the top of their list of priorities.

But the offseason is two months away, and with the Suns looming free will questions in their backcourt, the draft will provide resupply opportunities.

Are they taking an older, plug-and-play perspective at the 29th overall pick, where they’re stranded after winning the second best NBA record?

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony thinks the Suns can have a little more patience. His latest simulation project released Thursday picked Phoenix, Tennessee product Jaden Springer, 18, in the first round.

With much of the Suns’ backcourt depth going into free will, it might make sense for Phoenix to swing for the fences by selecting Springer. The Tennessee goalie is both one of the youngest players in this draft class and one of his best perimeter defenders. He’s a strong, instinctive goalscorer whose ability to come out in transition and into the lane with his powerful first step should help him carve out a role for himself as his perimeter shooting and decision making continues to evolve.

As a rookie, Springer played 25 games and started 15. He averaged 12.9 points, 2.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 26 minutes per game.

While his decision-making and feeling as a true point guard seemed raw, the 6-foot-4, 204-pound guard showed a lot to like.

It has a low, thick build which, combined with its lateral swiftness, allows it to make attempts at bodily driving. Its length also contributes to this.

As an attacking player, he has a first step and a little tremor that allows him to descend and finish with contact. Springer is not an explosive jumper and his grips are questionable, but if he is able to reach the rim he can finish (65%, by

Although he is a taller guard, Springer at both ends has a good feeling of squeezing through the pantyhose spaces to get to his spots.

The rookie shot 47% overall and 44% from three points on a highly selective 1.8 attempts per game. His fixed shot, although quite mechanical, worked.

Springer’s midrange play and pick-and-roll feel will need to be developed, which will determine whether it will be closer to a Kyle Lowry style headguard or an off-the-ball utility piece from Marcus Smart type.

Assuming the Suns bring Chris Paul back, whether he picks his player option or signs a long-term deal, Phoenix can manage to wait and find out.

But then they’ll have to do some free agency work with backup guards Cam Payne, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore all hitting unrestricted free agency as 2021-2022 approaches.

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