Throughout the hot takes regarding the 76ers' carousel of undrafted and D-League pickups throughout the Sam Hinkie era, Robert Covington stands as the one true keeper the Sixers have found in their bargain bin search for NBA players. Waived by the Rockets last summer and signed mid-November amidst the team's disastrous start to the season, Covington was the Sixers' lone offensive bright spot in 2014-15, shooting 37.4 percent from three (446 attempts).
If Covington can be a knockdown deep threat while sharing the court with the likes of Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten and Luc Mbah a Moute, his skill as a floor-spacing weapon should only increase when he's in a lineup that contains Nik Stauskas (42.1 percent from three after the All-Star break as a rookie) and the post-game Behemoth Jahlil Okafor.
Here's a look at how Covington fared on his 446 three-point attempts with the Sixers this past season according to the distance of his closest defender, courtesy of NBA Stats tracking:
Very Tight: closest defender is 0-2 feet away (1.3 percent of his threes): 30.0 percent
Tight: closest defender is 2-4 feet away (16.7 percent of his threes): 33.9 percent
Open: closest defender is 4-6 feet away (26.7 percent of his threes): 36.4 percent
Very Open: closest defender is 6+ feet away (14.2 percent of his threes): 44.8 percent
It's obvious how Covington's splits play out: when he's blanketed around the arc, he's K.J. McDaniels; when he's really open, he's Stephen Curry in the playoffs. It's amazing enough that Covington was at least open on over 40 percent of his threes with the D-League Avengers surrounding him. It's reasonable to suggest that number could go up, increasing Covington's three-point percentage in the process, with the vortex of Okafor commanding double-teams in the paint.
Covington's continued development in his first full season in Philadelphia, as well as his potential to break out and become one of the league's premier role players, hinges on Okafor being the inside force he was as a a freshman at Duke.
When Jah Rule is pounding post defenders into dust as he does above, he's sucking help defenders into the paint and turning opponents inward. If one of them happens to be Big Shot Bob's man, the Sixers are in a perfect position offensively to take a high-percentage shot and execute, whether that be through Okafor willing himself to the rim or Jah finding Covington very open for an easy three-point basket. Okafor's passing in the post has been frequently praised, and rightfully so, as seen in this one-handed assist from Summer League:
Even Covington himself is feeling some change, ready to break out of his caccoon and blossom in a redesigned Sixers offense:
An Okafor-centric Sixers team will look much different than the switch-heavy, defensively-focused squad of this past season; however, the team's offense should improve from its historically awful output in 2015 with Okafor's sphere of influence controlling the paint and a sharpshooter like Covington circling the arc, ready to break out and and get revenge on all of those teams that passed over him.