Forward Robert Covington didn't come to the 76ers with much fanfare, but lately the 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward with the deft shooting touch has been earning minutes and praise.
Signed as a free agent by the Sixers on Nov. 15, Covington has quickly earned a spot in the rotation. The Sixers (2-18) have won two of their last three games and Covington has averaged 21 points and 5.3 rebounds in those three contests, shooting 9 for 17 from three-point range.
"I didn't know too much about him when he got here," point guard Michael Carter-Williams said Monday after practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
He does now. "He has knocked down some big shots for us," Carter-Williams said.
Covington came off the bench Saturday in a 108-101 overtime win at Detroit and scored 25 points. He made 9 of 14 shots from the field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, and hit all four free throws.
"He has shown me more than I could have imagined offensively," coach Brett Brown said. "He is way better than I thought."
Covington still needs work defensively, Brown said.
His offense has helped the Sixers immensely, especially since Tony Wroten (17.9 points per game) has missed the last five games with a right knee sprain. Wroten returned to practice Monday and is expected to play Wednesday in Atlanta against the Hawks.
Covington, who turns 24 on Dec. 14, showed he could score last season. An undrafted free agent out of Tennessee State, he averaged 23.2 points in 42 games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League.
"The D-League was a big benefit to me," Covington said. "I went down there and did what I had to do, which was prove myself."
Now he is beginning to do it at the NBA level.
"My confidence has boosted so much," said Covington, who has hit 21 of 22 free throws this season.
He is getting more comfortable each game and it is fair to wonder if the Sixers would have won without him. In their first win, an 85-77 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday, Covington scored 17 points.
Alexey Shved, who has been sidelined the last three games with a left hip flexor strain, is questionable for Wednesday. . . . "There are no problems with the knee," said Wroten, who was a full participant in practice. "I wanted to wait until I was 100 percent to come back."
Robert Covington has suddenly become an indispensable part of the 76ers' offense. Since his minutes have drastically increased three games ago, the team has gone 2-1. Here are his numbers:
Minutes per game
Last 3 games: 29.3
Points per game
Last 3 games: 21.0
Field goal pct.
Last 3 games: .550
Last 3 games: .529