Big Opportunity, Big Shots From Robert Covington

by Max Rappaport Writer

Sometimes, all a player needs to shine is the right opportunity. In Philadelphia, second-year man Robert Covington is getting just that.

After going undrafted out of Tennessee State in 2013, the 6’9” forward was signed by the Rockets. But Covington spent only 25 days in Houston from October of that year through April, devoting the majority of his rookie season to the Rockets’ D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who play their games 350 miles down the Gulf Coast, in Hidalgo, Texas.

In 42 games with the Vipers in 2013-14, he averaged 23.2 points and shot 37.0% from beyond the arc on a gaudy 8.5 three-point attempts per game, earning NBDL Rookie of the Year honors. His 9.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game were also team highs.

Despite impressive play with Rio Grande Valley, Covington was waived by the Rockets on the eve of the 2014-15 regular season. Five days later, he was selected first-overall by the Grand Rapids Drive in the D-League Draft.

After spending training camp with the Pistons’ NBDL affiliate in preparation for their opener against the Bakersfield Jam, he received a call from the Sixers, who offered him a spot on their 15-man roster. He officially signed with the team on November 15 and made his debut with the team two days later, scoring six points in 17 minutes in a road loss to the Spurs.

Over the team’s next seven games, he played an average of just 11.7 minutes per game, cracking 15 minutes just once. But on Wednesday, that changed.

After playing eight uneventful minutes in the opening two quarters of a road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he came in off the bench in the third quarter and helped sparked the team’s first victory of the 2014-15 season.

He entered the game midway through the third frame with the Sixers down 40-36 and promptly earned a trip to the line for two free throws. A few minutes later, he was there again, scoring two more points to extend Philadelphia’s lead to three late in the frame. On the final possession of the third, Covington converted a basket at the rim courtesy of a nice feed from Luc Mbah a Moute to give the Sixers a 57-56 advantage and prompt head coach Brett Brown to leave the young forward in the game to start the fourth.

Covington remained on the floor for the entirety of the final frame and scored a team-high nine points en route to a career-best 17 in the 85-77 win.

Two nights later, he set a new career high. In 28 minutes, he scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. And on Saturday, he did it again, dropping 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting in 29 minutes off the bench in a 108-101 overtime victory over the Pistons.

“I have my sights set on everything that I want to do to prove that I belong here,” Covington told Comcast SportsNet’s Molly Sullivan after the win over Detroit. “I’ve just had that mindset [whenever] I’ve come in over the last few games, and Coach has believed in me, my teammates have believed in me, and they’ve found me. It’s been showing in my play.”

On the season, Covington is 17-of-32 (53.1%) from beyond the arc, and over his last three games he’s converted nine of his 17 attempts (52.9%). On Wednesday, he’ll get his next chance to build off the hot stretch as the Sixers travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks. 


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