Philadelphia 76ers: Did a thumb injury ruin Robert Covington’s shot?

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After struggling to match his regular season play in the postseason, Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington undergoes a minor middle finger surgery.

Is the Philadelphia 76ers season over because of a bum finger?

After finishing out the 2017-2018 NBA regular season with a solid 36.9 three-point percentage, Robert Covington, the player once affectionately known as Big Shot Bob, seemingly lost his touch from beyond the arc in the Sixers playoff series against the Boston Celtics, and only connected on 15 of his 48 shots from outside for an atrocious 31.3 completion percentage.

And now, a little over a week after the 76ers were officially eliminated from contention, he has successfully undergone surgery to repair an injury on his left middle finger that apparently happened all the way back in December.

More from Philadelphia 76ers

While the procedure appears to have been fairly minor, as Cov will be able to use the finger immediately according to’s Keith Pompey, it does make one wonder just how much this injury affected his outside shot, and by extension his overall effectiveness down the stretch, as the team made a push for playoff contention.

Over the first three months of the season, Covington averaged roughly 7.3 three-point shots a game and connected on 2.9 of them a game, good for a roughly 40 percent from outside, noticeably higher than the league average of roughly 36 percent. By comparison, Cov only made roughly 2.15 of his almost 6.5 three-point attempts a game in the four months after his December 28th injury for a much less impressive sub-34 shooting percentage.

Now granted, the NBA season did have noticeably more games in 2018 than in 2017, with 46 of the Sixers’ games being played in the new year, but even with a slightly uneven sample size, a six-point dip in three-point shooting percentage is pretty noticeably and frankly separates the elite shooters in the leagues from those who are offensive liability.

For better or for worse, Covington was in the latter category for the Sixers in 2018.

Though RoCo is right-handed, when you evaluate his tape, it’s clear that his left-hand plays a big part in guiding the ball out of his hand, so an injury to his left middle finger could very well have had either a real effect on the ball’s trajectory or at least a mental one.

While this finger injury obviously didn’t have an effect on Covington’s defensive issues in the playoffs, as he understandably struggled to keep up with the Boston Celtics‘ speedy backcourt players one-on-one, it does appear to have had an effect on his offensive game, and played a pretty substantial role in his -6.2 postseason Real Plus-Minus average.

Next: Embiid, Simmons named finalists for MVP awards

But now, with the injury professionally repaired, hopefully Covington will be able to rebound from his second-half struggles and return to his previous sharp shooting form for the 2018-2019 NBA season.