Year In Review: Robert Covington
Reflecting upon Robert Covington's past, present and future following the 2013-14 campaign
When ruminating upon Robert Covington’s rookie season, it’s helpful to simultaneously take into consideration the Rockets’ rather impressive track record when it comes to their utilization of the D-League and the opportunity it affords them in terms of the growth and cultivation of young talent. The Rockets’ partnership with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers has played a pivotal role in the development of numerous players over the years, and there’s ample evidence to suggest Covington could be next in line on a list that includes the likes of Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and Troy Daniels, to name but a few.
For starters, there is the not insignificant matter of Covington’s robust D-League production this season. The 23-year-old averaged more than 23 points and 9 rebounds per game in 42 appearances with the Vipers while knocking down 37 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc – numbers that earned Covington a first team spot on the All-D-League squad. He also cleaned the glass exceptionally well for his position, ranking among the D-League’s top 15 forwards in both offensive and defensive rebound rate. He finished the season grouped among the league leaders in steals and blocked more than a shot per game as well. Then there is the undeniable fact that the Tennessee State product certainly looks the part, possessing the size (6-8), length (7-2 wingspan) and quickness necessary for those hoping to earn a decent living on the wing.
In a league increasingly lustful for ‘3-and-D’ guys, Covington’s physical characteristics and sweet shooting stroke fit the profile of a player who could rapidly find himself in demand should his D-League success translate at the NBA level. Given that Covington garnered little more than a cup of coffee with the big club this year, it’s obviously far too soon to precisely say what his professional future will hold. But based on the Rockets’ recent history and the rookie’s workmanlike approach, it would hardly come as a surprise if Covington were to force Houston’s coaching staff into carving out a much more significant role for him next season.
Covington poured in a game-high 33 points – 22 of which came during his scorching second half performance – to claim MVP honors at the D-League All-Star game in New Orleans.
THE NEXT STEP
“Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.”
Those sage words come courtesy of the late, great John Wooden and they should be taken to heart by every single player who is serious about self-improvement. For Covington, that means hundreds of shots each day in order to fine-tune that shooting stroke and take it from good to great. It means countless hours in the weight room to improve his ability to finish around the rim and to better withstand the bullying bigger players will want to impose upon him. It means ball handling and agility drills galore. It means exhaustive film study to understand the finer points of scheme and positioning on both ends of the floor.
Covington has the full 3-and-D start-up kit. A summer of tireless, dilligent work will help him put it to good use one day - and one small improvement - at a time.