With rumors surfacing that the Houston Rockets have a strong interest in veteran forward Robert Covington, we examine how he could help the team.
In the midst of a rough start, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently reported that the Houston Rockets have a serious interest in Timberwolves forward Robert Covington. There’s no doubt that the team is short on wing talent, particularly with long-term injuries suffered by Gerald Green and Eric Gordon.
After suffering two devastating losses in their last four games, the Houston Rockets find themselves sitting at fifth in the Western Conference. While the team is still figuring out how to play together after adding Russell Westbrook into the mix, there’s still a chance that the roster could see another shakeup or two to speed their path to success along.
Covington went undrafted in 2013 but was ultimately discovered by the Rockets for his play as part of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Although he eventually signed a deal with the team, Covington would only appear in seven games for Houston, averaging five minutes per game in those showings. As a free agent, the Tennesse State graduate went on to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, where his playing career really began to take off.
Seeing the career Covington has had since leaving the team in 2014, it’s easy to see why Clutch City has an interest in a reunion with him. Here’s what Robert has to offer the Rockets if the team is able to land him for a second time:
Defensive toughness on the perimeter
Robert Covington has emerged as a big-time defender on the perimeter throughout his time in the league. His lateral quickness and quick hands on defense are his best qualities on that end of the floor, which is vital in today’s NBA loaded with talented guards.
Since he started playing significant minutes on the Sixers and most recently on the Timberwolves, he’s averaged over one steal per game and averaged a career-high 2.1 last season, which is higher than anyone on the Rockets currently. His 1.3 blocks per game last season was also a career-high, and that number would be second behind only Capela this season.
— NBA (@NBA) November 27, 2018
Covington has a lot of similarities to Tucker, as he’s a more-than-capable shooter that also provides a lot defensively. While P.J. is slightly more gifted than Robert defensively, Covington is more gifted than Tucker offensively. Having them on the floor together would suddenly make the Rockets much more formidable in that regard, as they’ve been giving up way too many driving layups this season.
Another capable 3-point shooter
In Mike D’Antoni‘s offensive system, being able to hit the longball is as important as anything else. Fortunately, Covington has shown an ability to bury shots from deep. Last season’s 37.8 percent shooting from the outside was the best mark he’s had for a season, and his career mark of 36.1 would be fourth on the current Rockets squad behind P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and Chris Clemons.
Covington also knows when to pick his spots when it comes to firing away from downtown. Currently, he’s attempting 5.5 shots from deep for the Wolves and connecting on two of those on average. James Harden, Ben McLemore, Gordon and House all shoot more often from beyond the arc, and only House (42.6) has a better shooting percentage than Covington’s current mark (36.9).
— NBA (@NBA) November 19, 2017
Unfortunately, the acquisition of Robert Covington would take a lot of work and financial gymnastics. As Ben DuBose of RocketsWire broke down, Houston could potentially offer a deal of Nene, Ben McLemore and two more minimum contracts after Jan. 15, when Nene is trade eligible. Other than that, there would likely need to be a third trade partner involved, which could further complicate things.
Obtaining the defensive specialist will certainly be tough, but Daryl Morey has made seemingly impossible moves before, so there’s still hope. If there’s one GM in the league that will be able to find a way, it will be Morey.
If Covington finds his way to Houston again, it will really boost the team on both ends of the floor.