Philadelphia 76ers: Trevelin Queen brings major Robert Covington vibes

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

When the Philadelphia 76ers announced their intentions to sign Trevelin Queen to a two-year, $3.56 million contract with $330,000 in guaranteed money, it generated pretty much the same reaction from basically every member of the fanbase: Who?

Like, no offense to Queen, he’s already become a fan favorite in one solitary Summer League game – more on that soon – but on a day where the team was destined to add P.J. Tucker and treated fans with the addition of Danuel House Jr. on the Bi-Annual Exception, the New Mexico State product was a clear number three and a distant one at that.

Fortunately, after missing Game 1 of the Utah Summer League due to “re-conditioning,” Queen made it back onto the court for Game 2 versus the home team and rapidly made his presence known with his shot, his pesky defense, and his incredibly charismatic reactions to anything he did on the court.

Surprising? For the “Trevelin Queen who” camp, you bet, but hey, when a team signs a former G-League MVP, former G-League First-Team All-Defensive player, and a performer who, according to the Summer League broadcasting team, literally slept in his car to keep his professional basketball career alive, what more can you really expect? Queen is living the dream and isn’t afraid to smile when things are going well.

The Philadelphia 76ers stole another gem from the Rio Grande Vipers.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: The Philadelphia 76ers signed an upperclassman-turned-G-League standout to a multi-year deal after the Houston Rockets opted against retaining his services.

That’s Trevelin Queen, right? Yup, but it’s also Robert Covington too.

Yup, though it’s been almost a decade since then-GM Sam Hinkie signed away Robert Covington from his former boss – Daryl Morey, ever heard of him? – the decision to give a 22-year-old soon-to-be second-year player a three-year, $3 million deal with two team options was a tad unconventional at the time but certainly paid out in Philly’s favor. Covington transitioned from a college power forward to an NBA small forward, capable of playing great top-of-the-key D and shot a ton of 3s in the process, even if his percentage would vary dramatically from game to game.

Though Covington was ultimately traded away in the Jimmy Butler deal alongside Dario Saric, he’s remained a steadily in-demand player among any team with playoff aspirations and was even acquired by Morey once more for a far bigger price tag, both financially and in terms of draft capital, than the deal Hinkie signed him to.

Can Queen be a similar prospect for a Sixers team looking to sign the next 2019-20 RoCo – or, in their case, 37-year-old P.J. Tucker – or is his development just too far from being NBA ready during Joel Embiid’s window of contention? I mean goodness, if Queen couldn’t crack the Rockets’ rotation in 2021-22, when they weren’t particularly good, what are the chances he plays well enough to warrant a roster spot on an objectively better team?

Well, if Queen continues to play like he did in his Utah Summer League debut, I’d venture to say the chances are pretty darn good.

Whether playing on ball or off it, Queen looked like a savvy man among boys, playing the lanes, hitting open looks, and proving why he averaged 3.3 steals per game on his way to the G-League MVP. His energy in the fast break was fantastic, his energy as a finisher was top-tier too, and his energy as a… okay, let’s try this in a different way: If you look up energy in the Basketball Dictionary, Queen’s face will be smiling back at you. Whether serving as an eight man, a 12th man, or signed to the 15th out of 15 roster spots, if he’s inserted into a game, you’d best believe there won’t be many plays taken off.

If Queen can bring his G-League defense with him to the NBA and supplement it with a new role as an off ball wing, there’s a very real chance he doesn’t have to worry about how much money is guaranteed on his contract, as it’ll be paid out on time and in full regardless.

Fortunately, with a G-League state line of 25.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 3.3 steals per game to fall back on, the bones are there for Queen to make an impact.

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The Philadelphia 76ers can’t buy a championship. They don’t have max money available to go out and sign anyone they please and don’t have the assets to make a deal for a player like Kevin Durant even if they cash out everything but Joel Embiid. No, for the Philadelphia 76ers to take a step forward, all of their free agent performers need to hit and work perfectly alongside their Big 3. Trevelin Queen is one of those free agent additions and the highest-upside one at that; if he can make the team and make an impact, the Sixers will be the true winners of the deal.