Robert Covington and Joel Embiid Named to 2017-18 All-Defensive Teams
FIRST 76ERS TEAMMATES TO RECEIVE ALL-DEFENSIVE HONORS IN THE SAME SEASON SINCE MAURICE CHEEKS AND BOBBY JONES IN 1984-85
PHILADELPHIA – MAY 23, 2018 – The NBA announced today that Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington and center Joel Embiid have been named to the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive teams. Covington was voted to the First Team and Embiid is a Second Team selection.
Covington and Embiid are the 10th and 11th players in franchise history to earn All-Defensive honors and become the first 76ers teammates be named to All-Defensive teams in the same season since Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones in 1984-85. Covington is the first 76er to be named to the All-Defensive First Team since Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo in 2000-01, while Embiid is the team’s first Second Team selection since current Warriors guard-forward Andre Iguodala in 2010-11.
Covington received 90 points, including 27 First Team votes and 36 Second Team votes. Meanwhile, Embiid collected 90 points; four First Team votes and 82 Second Team votes. Players were awarded two points for each NBA All-Defensive First Team vote and one point for each Second Team vote. Voters selected two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.
In his fifth season out of Tennessee State, Covington finished second on the team and ninth in the league with an average of 1.7 steals per game. The forward has posted no fewer than 105 steals in any of his last three seasons and is one of nine players in the league to do so.
A former NBA G League Rookie of the Year, Covington led the NBA in total deflections (312), edging Oklahoma City forward and three-time All-Defensive selection Paul George (306). His 99.0 defensive rating led NBA forwards who played at least 30.0 minutes per game. No such forward other than Covington had a defensive rating lower than 100. The only player with a better real defensive plus-minus than Covington’s 4.31 was All-Defensive First Team center Rudy Gobert at 5.13 (min. 40 games).
Embiid, the former Kansas standout, finished the regular season fourth in the NBA in blocks (1.8) and seventh in rebounds per game (11.0). He was one of five players in the league to appear in the top 10 in both statistical categories during the regular season. The Cameroonian center is one of just 11 players in league history to average nine or more rebounds and two-plus blocks over the course of a player’s first two career seasons and the first since All-Defensive First Team forward-center Anthony Davis in 2013-14.
Named a starter for NBA All-Star 2018, Embiid finished top five among centers in real defensive plus-minus as he and Gobert were the only two of the five to play at least 30.0 minutes per game. Embiid helped Philadelphia to the NBA’s third-best defensive rating (102.0) as the 76ers held opponents to just 38.8 points in the paint per game, the third-best average in the league. Opponents shot 7.8 percentage points worse than expected on all field-goal attempts when Embiid was the closest defender, the NBA’s best such mark (minimum 200 shots defended).
In a 76ers victory over the Lakers on Nov. 15, 2017, Embiid blocked a career-high seven shots while also grabbing 15 rebounds. He was one of two players in the league this season to post at least 15 rebounds and at least seven blocks in a single game, joining Charlotte’s Dwight Howard, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Joining Covington on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are New Orleans forward-center Anthony Davis, Utah center Rudy Gobert, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo and New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday. The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Embiid, Golden State forward Draymond Green, Boston forward-center Al Horford, Minnesota guard-forward Jimmy Butler and San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray.
Embiid, Davis and Gobert are the three finalists for the 2017-18 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. The winner will be announced during the 2018 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 25 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT. The second annual NBA Awards, honoring this season’s top performers, will take place at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.
Philadelphia rookie guard-forward and All-Rookie First Team selection Ben Simmons received 16 total votes for All-Defensive honors, including five First Team votes. Simmons is a finalist for the 2017-18 Kia NBA Rookie of Year Award.
Below are the voting results for the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Teams. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.