3 biggest steals of the 2021 NBA Draft

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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NBA Draft
Tennessee guard Jaden Springer (11) walks off the court after losing to Kentucky 70-55 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. /

2. Jaden Springer

Jaden Springer still has his jump shot to refine if he wants to be an effective 3-and-D guard at the 2-spot in this league, but he’s terrific value as a top-20 prospect who somehow slipped all the way to No. 28 in the draft. The Philadelphia 76ers need to figure out their Ben Simmons situation still, but Springer, a 6-foot-4, 18-year-old out of Tennessee, figures to fit in perfectly with one of the NBA’s top defenses either way.

Maybe his offense isn’t good enough yet to provide immediate value on a team that’s looking to contend for championships right now, but his defense is already good enough to earn him minutes if he can at least be passable on the other end.

In his lone year with the Volunteers, Springer shot 43.5 percent from long range on very low volume (1.8 attempts per game). If he can maintain that proficiency as a spot-up shooter and improve his ability to break down defenders off the dribble, his gritty defense — especially next to a guy like Matisse Thybulle — will quickly make him a fan favorite and potentially an impressive late first-round steal down the road.