Deandre Ayton: Rockets “Robert Covington is a big dude”

Houston Rockets Robert Covington (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Robert Covington (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

During the opening round of the NBA 2K tournament, Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton pointed out the physical stature of Houston Rockets wing Robert Covington.

When the Houston Rockets traded Clint Capela, the popular narrative was that they were getting rid of their big man. Understandably so, as Capela was the only legitimate center in Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni‘s rotation.

The Rockets didn’t retrieve a big man in the trade either, as Robert Covington is a wing player. Although RoCo isn’t a center, he’s been thrown in that role, as he’s instantly become the Rockets rim protector. Covington has averaged 2.5 blocks per game with the Rockets this season, which is more than Capela ever averaged.

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We’ve also seen Covington be selected for the tip-offs on numerous occasions, which isn’t surprising considering his 7-foot-2 wingspan. Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton discussed RoCo’s size and frame during Friday night’s opening round of the NBA’s players-only 2K tournament, which can be viewed here, if you’ve not had the opportunity to check it out.

Ayton said, “Covington is a big dude bro,” as RoCo defended Jimmy Butler in the post against Zach LaVine‘s Miami Heat. Covington’s size is the chief reason he’s such a tenacious force on defense. RoCo’s Houston Rockets average of 2.5 blocks would be second-best in the league, if maintained for the entirety of the season, behind only Hassan Whiteside.

The Rockets have allowed 106 points per 100 possessions with RoCo on the floor, which is the highest defensive rating among all Rockets starters, and players who have appeared in at least 14 games (excluding Capela). RoCo also has a block percentage of 6.6 percent, which would rank fourth in the league if maintained for the season.

Covington’s 6-foot-7 frame and rangy wingspan has allowed him to become one of the better defenders in the league, as he’s previously been named First-Team All-Defense during the 2017-18 season. RoCo has also finished inside of the top 20 in steals and steals percentage in four of the last five seasons, including this one.

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It’s no secret that Covington is one of the league’s premier defenders, and his size, which Ayton pointed out, is largely the reason.