From an undrafted guard out of Tennessee State, to the first overall pick in the D-League Draft, to signing a professional contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, Robert Covington's path to the NBA has been unconventional. Covington spent last season on assignment with the Rio Grand Valley Ripers in the D-League for the most part, even though he had signed a deal with the Houston Rockets. Covington produced 23.2 points and 9.2 rebounds in 42 games en route to being named the NBA D-League Rookie of the Year. After last season, an NBA contract seemed like the next step.
Even though the Grand Rapids Drive picked Covington No. 1 overall in this summer's D-League Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers and the 6'9" forward put ink on a new NBA contract before he even played a game for them. However, it was not all renaissance and joy for Covington when he first appeared in a 76ers uniform.
Most are very aware that the 76ers are not constructed to be a winning basketball team. However, this team gives Covington something he can not be guaranteed in other places: optimal playing time. Deadspin characterized Robert Covington as "patsy" and mentioned that the 76ers only signed him because his contract for this season is worth $816,482.
In his first three games with the Sixers, Covington failed to shoot over 25% from the floor and only made one triple. He rebounded with a nice game after that against the Knicks (4-of-6 from three, 12 points), but then played a combined 10 minutes in Philly's next two games. He was falling out of the rotation and no one was sure if the undrafted forward would merely serve as a bench presence on one of the worst teams in the NBA.
However, injuries started to mount for the 76ers, losing Tony Wroten and Alexey Shved for some time made 76ers coach Brett Brown go deep into his bench. This rewarded Covington with some playing time, and finally, he produced. Covington played 17 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 1, dropping nine points in 17 minutes, hitting all three shots from beyond-the-arc. The next game against the T-Wolves, Covington started to shine with 17 points and four rebounds, hitting 3-of-6 from three. Covington was starting to show that he can be a legitimate NBA player and the minutes kept increasing.
Coming into Saturday's matchup with the OKC Thunder, Covington was heavily relied upon as a shooter. He responded with a then career-high performance of 21 points in 28 minutes, hitting 8-of-13 field goals and hitting his shots from deep at a 50% clip once again. However, it wasn't a one hit wonder for Covington, who continued to build on his improvement.
On Saturday, Covington had his best game in his very short NBA career. He was the catalyst in the 76ers second win of the season, pouring in a career-high 25 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes. Covington dialed in 9-of-14 shots and hit 3-of-6 from three-point territory. The 76ers fan base is starting to notice as he's now being referred to as "Big Shot Bob." Not too bad for a guy that was in the D-League last season.
Robert Covington, or Bob Covington, as the 76ers fans like to call him, is starting to create a serious name for himself. Most people still might not know who he is, which is evident by an NBA scout at the last 76ers game who sighed, shook his head, and took more notes after Covington dropped his third three on the night. With performances like his last two, the NBA community will be very familiar with Robert Covington as a legitimate NBA player sooner rather than later.