Covington Extension Testament to Dedication, Two-Way Impact

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

CAMDEN, NJ - From relative obscurity to critical component of an NBA franchise on the rise, such has been Robert Covington’s admirable ascent the past five years.

Friday afternoon, the undrafted Tennessee State product and the organization that’s helped him blossom into a top-tier player at his position affirmed their long-term commitment to each other, as the 76ers made Covington’s restructured contract and subsequent extension official.

For Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo, the move seemed to be an obvious, straightforward decision.

“Robert Covington is a prime example of what hard work, dedication and commitment can lead to,” Colangelo said in a statement released by the team. “Rob’s growth as a player on both ends of the floor makes him one of the most versatile and effective wings in the league, while his contributions of character and professionalism feature prominently in our evolving organizational culture. This extension is both well-deserved, and a really great story.”

Covington, meanwhile, is now in a position to help the Sixers continue an evolution he himself has had an integral role in sparking. The soon-to-be 27-year old (his birthday is December 14th) and the club have essentially been on parallel tracks since he first signed as a free agent November 14th, 2014.

This fall, Covington has already set the pace for the strongest season of his career.

“I haven’t really thought about it too much,” Covington said earlier this week, when asked about the possibility of a new deal. “I’ve made sure the main focus has been coming out and playing hard.”

Indeed he has. Heading into the weekend, Covington was averaging a personal-high 16.5 points, along with 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

Most noteworthy in respect to Covington’s development is that he’s progressed to become a prototype for the modern day 3-and-D wingman. As of Friday, Covington ranked fourth in the league with 50 3-pointers, and eighth overall with a 49.5 3-point shooting percentage. His 4.46 real plus-minus rating, which is calculated by ESPN.com and accounts for offensive and defensive impact , was first among all small forwards.

“I’m blessed to be here,” said Covington, who earned a handful of votes for Defensive Player of the Year this past spring. “It’s an opportunity I’ve been looking forward to.”

A 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward from the western suburbs of Chicago, Covington began his professional path in 2013-2014 with a year-long stint in the NBA G League, playing for the Rio Grande Vipers. He averaged 23.2 points per game on the strength of 133 threes (37.0 3fg%), en route to receiving G League Rookie of the Year honors. 

Despite showing signs of promise, Covington was released by the Houston Rockets during 2014 pre-season roster cutdowns. A few weeks later, he landed with the Sixers, and, amidst a breakout campaign, went on to seize a steady role in Brett Brown’s rotation. His 167 3-pointers that season were, at the time, fourth on the Sixers’ all-time chart.

The next year, Covington became a full-time starter, and has remained one ever since, with his stature in the league growing.

“I’ve never been a player who’s given up,” Covington said Wednesday in Los Angeles. “I’ve faced adversity countless, countless times throughout my life. One thing I’ve always preached is keep pushing. Nobody can stop me from being what I want to be. It’s only me. That’s how I’ve always felt.”

Look at where, and what, it’s gotten him.

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