The Sixers are in a great position to succeed this year, even if the season didn’t start off on the right foot. After a tough loss against a Boston team that is better than the Sixers, it seems like everyone is already set on jumping to conclusions. There should be anger, even in such a small sample size. The loss felt eerily similar to last year’s playoffs, with not much changing since then. But all concern can be combated by the fact that there are still “Jalen Rose amount” games to go, word to Joel Embiid. Fans hope that things have changed since last year and the core group has gotten better, but one thing that is sadly still the same is the quick turn on Robert Covington.
For much of his Sixers career, Covington has been looked at as one of the glue guys, a player who can get you a bucket and play great defense. He’s not a superstar and most likely will never be one, but he does his job well enough to help the team win games. Starting off last season as hot as ever, Covington eventually regressed to the mean, like any player who goes on a hot streak. That is to be expected, but what really made it noticeable is that Covington signed his big contract extension right before his play fell off. What was once a contract that many praised as being an affordable deal for an up-and-coming player became one that was criticized because he wasn’t living up to his paychecks.
As a player who makes his money by shooting three-pointers, Covington needs to shoot at a consistent clip, and that is something that he has struggled with as a Sixer. He can be lights out one moment and ineffective another, but aren’t most three-point shooters? By the end of last season, Covington was a player that many fans felt they couldn’t trust, coming up short more often than coming up clutch.
Last postseason was one to forget, to put it lightly. Mostly ineffective on the offensive end, he was used for his stellar defense and not much else. It got to the point where fans would audibly boo him. Was he having a rough stretch? Yes. Was it all his fault that the Sixers didn’t play up to their standards against the Celtics in the playoffs? Not at all.
Fans need someone to take their frustrations out on. It’s the same story with any professional team. It seems like Sixers fans have chosen Covington to be that guy now that the team is good enough to assign blame for the team’s shortcomings. He has issues in his game that he needs to fix, but already there are whispers of “why is he starting if he can’t hit the shots,” or “we should have packaged him for a star when we had the chance.” An eye-opening playoff series loss and tough season opening loss will do that to people.
There are problems with the Sixers much bigger than Covington being streaky like nearly every other shooter in the NBA, but it seems like already much of the blame will be placed upon his shoulders. Regardless of who is blamed the most for tough losses, the theme this season needs to be fixing the flaws that make them such an easy opponent against the NBA’s elite teams. The Sixers are so close to being a complete team and competing for a championship, and there’s a good chance Robert Covington helps them get there.