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Robert Covington Is In Philly To Help The Sixers Win

Robert Covington is here to save the Sixers' season... okay, maybe not. Still, he's been such a revelation that it makes one wonder how he even made it here.

Covington seems to like fiddling with his mouthpiece during play.
Covington seems to like fiddling with his mouthpiece during play.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

You probably didn't miss this, since it happened over a month ago, but the 76ers made a big addition to their roster, signing Robert Covington. You've also probably heard of Robert Covington, because again he's been on the roster for over a month. But signing him showed that the Sixers weren't pretending about fielding a competitive professional basketball team.

Covington leads the Sixers in free throw percentage (90.0%) and three point shooting percentage (44.7%) by a wide margin*. A young roster of unrefined projects surrounds him, with just two other players shooting even greater than 30% from three (Hollis Thompson and K.J. McDaniels). Sam Hinkie has sold anything of value off to the highest bidder for a future second round draft pick, and good shooters usually aren't just available on the waiver wire or in free agency during the season.

*The Sixers are on pace to set something of a quadruple crown - they currently sit at the bottom of the NBA in field goal percentage (tied with Detroit), three point percentage, free throw percentage, and team turnover rate. They narrowly avoided the notoriety a year ago, with Chicago in FG% and Detroit in FT% trailing the tankers. And this year, without Covington, they might not even be close in three point or free throw shooting.

Bob has been a great shooter so far, which is exactly what his collegiate numbers suggested. Similar to another long rangy shooter signed off the scrap heap, the previously alluded to Hollis Thompson, Covington had numbers and size that screams "NBA prospect" but ultimately went undrafted:

Covington: 118 college games, 42.2% three point shooter on 3.7 attempts.

Thompson: 99 college games, 44.0% three point shooter on 2.9 attempts.

Thompson had a better percentage against better competition, while Covington had a bigger sample size. Additionally, Covington shot 37% on a huge number of three point attempts (8.5 per game!) for his D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Which is to say - while the super-high three point percentage is surprising, so is his going undrafted and unclaimed on waivers. How did so many teams initially miss on the guy? In a league where shooters get big contracts, every team passed on (Jon Gruden voice) this guy multiple times.

Now all he's doing is making the Sixers look like a semi-competent team. The Sixers sport the 29th worst net rating in the NBA at -10.5 - only Minnesota is currently worse. Net rating is measured as the difference between a team's offensive and defensive efficiency ratings (which are measured as points scored/allowed on a per-100 possession basis, accounting for teams that play faster or slower). With Covington on the court, it's a much more respectable -1.5, second best on the team. Only Jerami Grant sports a better rating, spurred by playing against bench-heavy lineups and a brilliant performance against Miami on Tuesday.

The Sixers, by far the worst offensive team in the league with an offensive rating of 91.7^ including any minutes Covington plays per, get a bump to 98.4, which is not good but also not historically awful. Without Covington, the rating is 88.5, which would be the worst mark in NBA history. He's actively helping the Sixers avoid infamy.

^The difference between 30th and 29th is 5.6 points, which is roughly the distance between 29th and 18th in the league.

Robert Covington is not an embarrassment, or an atrocity, or anything else a certain website may call him. He's a legitimate NBA player, and he's here to help the Sixers win (a little bit).