One of the biggest benefits of the Sixers' current approach to rebuilding is the team's ability to try out talent for future fit. By taking the emphasis off of individual game results in the present, the Sixers can use their 240 minutes of allotted court time each game to test out and evaluate players; a luxury that contending teams with set rotations cannot afford.
The evaluation through experience allows players an opportunity to show their stuff in the guts of games, not just against backups in the fringe minutes allotted to some young, developing players. Although not all players are able to take advantage of the opportunity. Some play, aren't seen to be a franchise fit, and are sent on their way. Remember Lorenzo Brown? Dewayne Dedmon? Darius Morris?
On the other hand, some players are able to take advantage of their opportunity. Robert Covington has been one of those players.
"I have my sights set on everything that I want to do to prove that I belong here," Covington told Comcast Sports' sideline reporter Molly Sullivan after posting a career-high 25 points in the Sixers overtime victory over the Pistons on Saturday.
"I've just had that mindset whenever I've come in over the last few games. Coach has believed in me, my teammates have believe in me, and they've found me. It's been showing in my play."
Indeed it has. Covington has averaged 18 points per game over the past four contests, while providing the Sixers with some reliable outside shooting that they have been searching for. Covington has connected on 12 of 20 three-point attempts over that span and given reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams an additional offensive outlet.
Covington's minutes continue to climb, as he has clocked about 30 minutes in each of the last three contests after averaging right around 15 minutes per game to start the season. This trend will likely continue, as Sixers coach Brett Brown continues to praise his play.
"I want him to shoot as many open three's for us as possible," Brown stated last week. "That's what he does."
Covington's promising play isn't necessarily surprising - as he was named the 2014 NBDL Rookie of the Year after also being named an NBDL All-Star - it may have just been a matter of opportunity. Covington was unable to break into the Rockets' rotation after playing for their summer league squad in 2013 and 2014, and appearing in seven games for Houston last season. The Rockets, who have championship aspirations, did not necessarily have to the minutes to dedicate to the development of a player like Covington; the Sixers do. They also desperately need some shooters, Covington's area of expertise.
Over the past couple weeks, Covington's play has impressed, and those across the league's landscape are starting to take note. Granted, Covington's stint with the Sixers thus far is a small sample size, but he is certainly making the most out of the opportunity. The minutes will be there as long as Covington can continue to take advantage of them. If he can continue to play at or above the level he has been over the past couple weeks he will prove that he not only deserves to play in the present, but that he may have a future with the franchise as well.