Brett Brown confirms that Robert Covington will start

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Robert Covington
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Robert Covington /

In a discussion with the media, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown confirmed that Robert Covington will be a starter. Here is why he is making the right decision.

According to numerous reporters, including Derek Bodner below, I think it’s official.  At least, it’s as preseason offiicial as it can be. Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown plans to start Robert Covington at small forward for the upcoming season. Not only that, but he also sees him closing games out for the team as well.

Throughout the entire offseason, those who follow the team closely have gone back and forth debating whether Covington or Dario Saric should start. Saric was the fan favorite after a rookie campaign full of highlight reel passes and crowd-wooing plays.

Covington, however, tends to fly under the radar. Few truly express their appreciation for exactly what he brings to the table.

Dominating defense

Covington quietly established himself as one of the leagues very best defenders last year.  All the while, he also gave the team another three-point option on the wing. Still, the spotlight evades him. That is due to the fact that his best contributions tend to be the ones that don’t show up in the stat sheet.  As a result, his popularity nationally is almost nonexistent.

National recognition is an underrated factor to being an NBA player.  Those who fly under the radar like Covington tend to be forgotten about. He had a very compelling case to make an All-Defense team this past season, but he missed the cut in favor of big name players such as Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, and Tony Allen who seemingly make the team year in and year out regardless of their output. Not to diminish their accomplishments over the past few years, but there have been quite a few players who have been excellent on the defensive end.  The trouble is that many who cast votes simply haven’t the time to examine each player. So they peruse highlight footage of contending teams.  Players on lesser teams don’t get validated at the end of the year because of their lack of recognition.

Dario Saric bench role is another key to 76ers success.

Even though Dario Saric is the bigger name, his skillset will work best as the sixth man for the 76ers. He has many of the same qualities as Ben Simmons, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Both Saric and Simmons are talented natural playmakers. On one hand, they work best setting others up on offense. Still, they complicate the lineups.

On the other hand, this wouldn’t be an issue if either of them had an above average jump shot.  As a matter of fact, both players must show significant improvement.  While Simmons is a known poor shooter,  Saric was statistically one of the worst last season.

Send them in with shooters

They need shooters around them to succeed, and if they both share the court at the same time they will not be able to utilize their abilities to the fullest.

Defensively, Saric is best at defending power forwards, which is also where Simmons operates best. Neither have proven that they are quick enough to hang with small forwards, nor have they shown that they can consistently hold their own against centers.

Covington versatility bodes well

Covington, however, is an incredibly versatile defender who can defend any position one through four. Switching on defense is key to the modern NBA game, which is why it is vital for Covington to get as many minutes as possible.

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Additionally, Covington will do a much better job stretching the floor for the 76ers this year. His three point percentage may have been sub-par last season, but that is mostly due to an early-season slump he went through. On the season, he played 67 games and shot 33.3 percent from three, but in his final 37 games he shot 37.5 percent, which is much more on-par with what Covington is as a shooter. Playing alongside Simmons, having a three-and-D player like Covington will make things a lot easier on both ends of the floor.