Philadelphia 76ers: RoCo’s shooting woes continue

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

After leading the Philadelphia 76ers in three-point percentage over the first 16 games of the season, Robert Covington has hit a serious shooting slump.

Robert Covington has had a tough week.

Fresh off the heels of signing a new four-year, $62-million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in mid-November, Covington has fallen into a bit of a dry spell from downtown.

After leading the team in three-point percentage over the 16 games of the 2017-2018 season with an insane 48-percent from three-point range, Big Shot Bob has only made 10 or his 36 three-point attempts, way below the league average of 37-percent.

Barely a week removed from his big payday, Covington put together arguably the worst game of his career in front of his hometown fans against the Cleveland Cavaliers. While being tasked with guarding the leagues best player, LeBron James, for much of the night, RoCo missed all nine of his three-point shots on a night when his team needed him most. Granted, the fact that Number 33 even played mere hours after one of his childhood friends was fatally shot should be applauded, but his 2-point performance certainly didn’t help the 76ers in one of their worst losses of the season.

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In the team’s two subsequent games, Covington did have some shots land, but only making 4-15 shots from downtown isn’t the kind of production a team needs from their star wing player.

Now I understand that shooting in the NBA can come in waves, with even the best shooters like Steph Curry, J.R. Smith and our own J.J. Redick having their down games, but is this indicative of a simple slump, or something more enduring?

While Covington has established himself as one of the leagues premier 3-and-D wing players, having spent the last two seasons ranked the number one small forward defender in the league according to ESPN’s real plus-minus, he’s never been the most consistent shooter from outside.

A career 36-percent three-point shooter, Covington’s 48-percent shooting percentage over the first 16-games always felt like a statistical anomaly, with many fans waiting breathlessly for the 6-foot-9 forward’s second shoe to fall, and after six consecutive games with less than ideal performances, could we have reached that point?

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And more importantly, does it even matter?

Covington is one of the leagues best defenders, a player who is often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player, be that a point guard or a power forward, without complaint. Even though he may not be the most consistent shooter from outside, RoCo’s willingness to shoot his shot even if it isn’t falling should be commended. While this borderline reckless abandon may cost the team in a few close games, it’s encouraging to see a player willingly disregard his statistical performance in favor of trying to help his team win.

Furthermore, on a team with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the aforementioned Redick, does Brett Brown really need to run his offense through Covington? Ideally, RoCo should be the team’s third, fourth, or on some plays even fifth option from a scoring perspective, which should allow the 6-foot-9 wing to choose his shots more selectively. Surrounding Simmons with a collection of quality outside shooters has been paramount in the 6-foot-10 Aussie’s transition to point guard, so keeping Covington in the wings is becoming more and more essential to the team’s success.

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Even though Robert Covington is currently going through a rough patch as a shooter, he’s multifaceted game is one of the main reasons the 76ers have been so competitive over the last month, and he shouldn’t be written off anytime soon.