The Philadelphia 76ers are in a rebuild mode deep as any we have seen across any sport in many years. Since they really botched their portion of the four team, 12 player, five pick trade featured with Dwight Howard in 2012, the franchise has been quite active in repairing the damage that placing the team’s fate in Andrew Bynum has cost them.
A quick recap, they sent Andre Iguodala to Denver as well as young promising talent Nikola Vucevic, their 2011 first round pick and Maurice Harkless their 2012 first rounder to acquire veteran Jason Richardson from Orlando and of course Bynum from the Lakers.
Things quickly backfired and there was no Brotherly Love in the city counted on to provide it. Vucevic has become a double double machine in Orlando, Harkless a serviceable pro, Iguodala has regressed sure but that contract would have expired in 2013 anyhow. J-Rich remains rostered for the 76ers but hasn’t appeared in a game for the 76ers since January 18, 2013.
Andrew Bynum’s career started to slip considerably, just like his locks. He never played in a game for the 76ers. He set them back to a point where the franchise is just trading NBA talent –good or average– Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young — just to break down a roster that was barely hanging on to mediocrity and send it into full-fledged turrible territory.
Do I disagree with the strategy? No. If you’re not contending you best be rebuilding, but what the 76ers are sending out each night is something that gets you kicked out of leagues overseas.
Regardless, that’s where they are, and either tonight in Dallas, tomorrow in Houston or Monday in San Antonio –a stretch that surely will send the woeful 76ers to 0-10– they will welcome a new player into the mix, and that player is Robert Covington. And he can help you.
Covington is a 6 foot 9 forward with a shooter’s touch out of Tennessee State went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Assigned to the Houston Rockets D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers he put up monster numbers.
23.2 ppg, 9.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.4 steals, 1.4 blocks in 34 minutes a game across 42 games. In a super high tempo system the Rockets’ Developmental League affiliate employs, Covington put up these monster numbers with equally monstrous chances. He took 18.1 shots a game, 8.5 3’s a game but also had an impressive 4.9 free throw attempts a night, making 4.1.
He was named the 2013-14 NBADL Rookie of the Year.
The Rockets did call him up before another team could claim his services, where he would play in just seven games scoring 2.3 points per game. Despite a bench that had chances for Jordan Hamilton to be a major player, Covington couldn’t crack the code that is whatever Kevin McHale does with his rotation.
This season he was eligible for the 2014 NBADL Draft, and the only thing preventing him from being the top selection would be an impending call-up to the big leagues.
Even still the Grand Rapids Drive, affiliated with the Detroit Pistons, selected Covington first overall. Before the season can even have it’s first jump ball (the 2014 D-League season starts tomorrow, November 14th) Covington is set to be called up by the many times aforementioned Philadelphia 76ers.
For a team in a really low place, this will already be the Sixers second call-up from the D-League with the regular season barely two weeks old. They called up Drew Gordon (older brother to Magic rookie and former Arizona Wildcat Aaron Gordon this past Monday, waiving Malcolm Thomas.
Of course when Covington is brought on board, his role and impact are expected to be much more sizable with the 76ers, who could give him a real shot to become a mainstay in the team’s long term plans. The roster is deep with young talent like reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, second year player Nerlens Noel and rookie K.J. McDaniels. However the team is well aware that it’s dent in the standings is still years away and has the rights to injured rookie Joel Embiid and the highly touted Croatian prospect Dario Šarić, the latter who may not be arriving stateside until 2016, when the 76ers will be closer but still far. Like I said, it’s a deep rebuild.
Philly will have to waive another player to clear up the space for Robert Covington, but there’s no doubt he can help them gain some momentum for the franchise (or hey, a good fantasy add for fellow fantasy basketball players!) desperately needing a jolt of energy and a ray of sunshine and a promise of actual NBA players anywhere and everywhere they can find it.
With the top prospect in the NBA’s version of the minor leagues, they could very well have found one.