In a time for the Philadelphia 76ers where high draft picks are king, two undrafted players have meant the most.
Hollis Thompson has been on the team throughout the entire rebuild. The forward out of Georgetown University entered the 2012 NBA Draft, but found himself without a suitor. Not one for ridiculous stats or highlights, his claim to fame is his three-point shot. Hollis set a university record by shooting 44% from beyond the arc, which ultimately led the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign him. Though later waived, he was quickly picked up by the Tulsa 66ers (now the Oklahoma City Blue), a D-League affiliate of the Thunder.
Spending the 2012-2013 season with the 66ers, Thompson averaged eight points and 3.9 boards per game. He was invited to join the San Antonio Spurs for the 2013 Summer League, and eventually signed with the Philadelphia 76ers on September 27.
The Los Angeles native strung together a solid rookie season, coming off of the bench and then starting at the small forward position in the second half of the season. He finished the year leading all rookies in three-point percentage.
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Thompson was one of the few holdouts who remained on the team into the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Though not a starter, he became a dependable sixth man at both small forward and shooting guard. His consistency from three is undeniable, as he shot 40% in both ’13 and ’14, which is well above the league average.
Thompson is shooting 37% from three so far this season, a slight drop off from before. This drop off can be attributed to defenders being aware of his sharp shooting and attempting to get him off his spot and take away his three-point shot. Much like Thompson, Robert Covington has filled a great need of outside shooting.
Robert Covington has followed a similar path to his peer. RoCo spent four years at Tennessee State before ending up without a team in the 2013 draft. He, like Thompson, specializes in his ability to knock down deep shots, while also possessing an uncanny deftness defensively. His talents earned him a spot on the Houston Rocket’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Covington spent the 2013 season with the Vipers, earning D-League Rookie of the Year as well as a spot on the All-Star roster for the D-League All-Star game. Covington joined the Philadelphia 76ers in November of the 2014 season, immediately displaying his defensive acuteness and three-shot.
Over his two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Robert Covington has accrued 191 steals and a 36 percent shot from three. His balance on offense and defense makes him a complete player that Brett Brown can have total trust in. Similar to Thompson, defenders know to try and take away his long range shot, so Covington has shown development in his drives to the rim as well.
Though Hollis Thompson and Robert Covington probably wouldn’t be starters on any other team, they are perfect for the Sixers, and give meaning to the team’s process.
Not only do they prove that not all talent has to be found in the first round of the draft, but that the time and research invested in player development has paid off for the Philadelphia 76ers. Growth and development are really the pinnacle of the rebuilding years, and RoCo and Hollis have shown that in the evolution of their games.
Minor tweaks in their shots, driving to the basket more, and a focus on defensive proficiency have found the duo as two of the most reliable and consistent Philadelphia 76ers, while providing Sixers fans a sliver of hope in The Process.