Is Robert Covington The League’s Most Underrated Defender?

Photo Credit: Philadelphia 76ers

Is Robert Covington The League’s Most Underrated Defender?


The Philadelphia 76ers may have been a laughing stock to some in recent years for their underwhelming records, but the puzzle is slowing starting to come together for the proud basketball city. Year by year, draft pick by draft pick, the 76ers are slowing putting together a roster worthy of competing for a championship within the next 5 years. Accumulating first round picks, drafting wisely and developing their young core has been an integral part of why NBA fans are excited to see what a healthy 76ers outfit looks this upcoming campaign, especially after drafting highly touted college scoring machine Markelle Fultz. Fultz will join both Joel “The Process” Embiid and former number one overall draft pick Ben Simmons in the starting lineup, along with newly acquired three-point specialist JJ Redick in a huge coup for the rebuilding roster.

Throw in solid point guard T.J. McConnell as well as talented big man Jahlil Okafor, and the vision the front office had all those years ago will take its first real steps this upcoming campaign as a playoff spot may be truly on the cards. Players like Embiid, Fultz and Simmons will likely grab all the headlines, but one underrated aspect of the 76ers nucleus is wingman Robert Covington. It’s understandable numerous NBA fans may not watch many 76ers games, but for the individuals that do, they will already know that Covington has turned into one of the more underrated talents within the association.

Standing at an impressive 6-foot-9, Covington came into the league as a working progress, but has since established himself into a legitimate “3 & D” starting caliber player within the league. As his basketball IQ and three-point shot has improved, Covington has gone from strength in his development, and has transitioned from solid role player to a central figure of everything good for the organization.

The 3 & D specialist will always be welcome on NBA rosters, as their ability to guard the opposition’s best player and be a threat from the outside prove invaluable to the success of their teams.

After being signed by Philly from the D-League in 2014, Covington quickly showed his ability to connect from range, and showed glimpses of being a lockdown defender in the future. He has embraced that defensive mold, and this past season saw Covington fly under the radar as one of the league’s elite defenders.

As a result of the 76ers poor record, it may have cost him a place on the all NBA defensive teams, but his case for selection was more than worthy.

Here are some stats from this past season highlighting Covington’s defensive prowess via CSN Phily.


  • The players Covington has guarded this season have a collective field goal percentage of 45.4 percent when not facing him. Against him, they’ve shot 42.5 percent.
  • From three, Covington’s opponents have shot 34.5 percent against him compared to 36.2 percent against everyone else.
  • Covington averages 2.9 steals per 48 minutes — fifth-most in the NBA among players with at least 50 games this season, behind only Manu Ginobili, Chris Paul, Draymond Green and Tony Allen.
  • His company is even more exclusive when you account for blocks. Covington is averaging 1.9 steals and 1.0 block per game. The only three others averaging at least 1.5 steals and 1.0 block are Green, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Andre Drummond.
  • It goes beyond steals, though. How about all those times Covington strips a ball that lands in a teammate’s hands, or when he knocks a pass out of bounds to force the opponent to run a new set? Covington leads the NBA with 4.3 deflections per game. The only other player above 4.0 is Green.


Unfortunately in the NBA world we live in today, the offensive side of the ball massively outshines what is happening on the defensive end. Despite both being equally as important, Covington may have not received the credit he deserves as of yet, but as his progression continues, so will the outside noise.

The NBA community is eagerly anticipating the creation of something special from the 76ers in this upcoming season and for seasons to come. It has been a long and difficult process, but the emergence of players like Covington highlight they are heading in the right direction. He will continue to be at the heart of everything good for the organization moving forward, and will no doubt be hot property sooner rather than later within the league.


You may also like...