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Robert Covington

(Abbie Parr/Getty)

Please Stop Calling Robert Covington a “3-and-D” Player

Robert Covington
(Abbie Parr/Getty)

If you’ve read any type of scouting report on Portland Trailblazers forward Robert Covington, chances are it used the phrase “3-and-D” to describe his skillset. Plenty of NBA analysts like to throw around similar terminology regarding RoCo. Apparently, no one wants to admit that this characterization is just completely wrong.

A 3-and-D Player, But Minus the Threes

Part of being a 3-and-D player is being a high-level three-point shooter. That’s quite literally half of it. Somehow Robert Covington receives this designation when there’s absolutely zero statistical reason to give it to him.

Robert Covington ranks outside the top 100 in active three-point percentage, converting at a 35.5% clip. I’m not really sure how someone can be one of the best 3-and-D players if there are over 100 qualified active players who are better three-point shooters.

In his seven-plus NBA seasons, Covington has shot 40% from deep a grand total of zero times. To start off his season with the Trailblazers, he is 1 for 7 from beyond the arc. Yes, it’s definitely a small sample size, but it’s still not promising. Over his career, 63% of Covington’s shots are from three-point range. Don’t mistake his propensity to chuck up shots with being a long-range threat. In reality, he’s not that great of a shooter, and there are plenty of stats to back that up.

Let’s look at Robert Covington’s shooting measurements relative to league averages over his seven years in the NBA:

Robert CovingtonNBA League Average
Field Goal Percentage.405.456
2-Point FG Percentage.491.504
3-Point FG Percentage.355.356
Effective FG Percentage.517.514
True Shooting Percentage.553.551
Stats via Basketball Reference

RoCo is basically just a league-average shooter. Don’t get it twisted. Over his career, he has a negative Offensive Box Plus/Minus. His teams suffer offensively when he is on the floor.

Robert Covington Defensive Value

RoCo is a good defender, I’ll give him credit. Most of his defensive value comes from his versatility in being able to guard pretty much any position. There aren’t many players who can do that. Watching just a few minutes of Houston Rockets games last year made it clear how valuable Covington is when he’s playing his best defense. If he met the minimum requirements for minutes played, he would be a top-20 active player in Defensive Box Plus/Minus.

However, over the last couple years, he’s had a problem with fouling people. Two of the last three seasons, Robert Covington has ranked inside the top 10 in personal fouls. Over his career, he averages over three fouls a game.

Covington has been named to an All-Defensive 1st Team in his career. Obviously, the dude can defend. But for how much people rave about his defense, it’s a little surprising that’s all he has. Not even a 2nd Team nod.

Robert Covington Overall Value

I think it’s a little suspect that whenever Covington gets offloaded to a new team, people think he’s such a great pickup. I don’t get what the hype is about. Evidently, neither does the NBA, considering he’s played for four different teams in the last three seasons. Usually, guys who provide such a great 3-and-D skillset have staying power. At least you would think so.

Basketball Reference also has this similarity section where they compare players who are of “similar career quality and shape.” They take into account both position and length of career, and the comparisons are based on individual season win shares. Robert Covington’s career arc has a 91.9% similarity to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I’m not making that up. Covington’s career up to this point has been most comparable to a guy who just got cut by the New York Knicks.

I’ve gotten into some questions about his overall value, but the main takeaway here is that Robert Covington is not a 3-and-D player. How on earth can he be when he’s just an average shooter? Let’s be honest: RoCo is a good defensive role player. Nothing more.


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