As we recap the 2018-19 Timberwolves season, our Kyle Ratke and Julian Andrews will be taking a look at each player on the roster and how we’ll remember their season. We continue with wing Robert Covington.
KR: Wolves fans found out real early why Robert Covington was an All-Defensive Team player in 2017-18 with the 76ers. Covington was the main piece when the team traded Jimmy Butler to the 76ers. And while he missed the majority of the season with a bone bruise, when he was on the court, it was pretty obvious how well he fit in with this team.
On defense, this team needed a guy like Covington who wasn’t afraid to get dirty. This is a guy who went from undrafted to G League, to one of the premiere 3-and-D guys in the NBA. He hasn’t forgotten how he got here. He’s still that same scrappy player, although he’s a bit more polished now.
Covington shot 43.3 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from the 3-point line on 6.7 attempts per game in his 22 games with the Wolves. More of that in 2019-20, please!
He also averaged what-would-have-been a career-high 14.7 points per game to go with 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.5 assists per contest.
The Wolves were 12-10 with Covington in the lineup post-trade and 19-26 without him.
Covington was already back in Minnesota earlier in May, along with Andrew Wiggins, to meet with new President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas and to get a weight-lifting session in (not with Rosas, but that would be fun!).
Wolves fans should be excited about Covington having a full summer to adapt to the franchise, along with having a full training camp. Covington was traded midseason and it’s incredibly challenging to learn on the run. During the middle of a season, there are so few practices with the team’s hectic travel schedule. While you get to know teammates on the road, the magic happens on the court. Covington was moved to a new city, on a new team and in a new conference. With more familiarity with the team and city, Covington should be even better for the Wolves in 2019-20.
JA: Has any Wolves player become a fan favorite faster than Covington? I don’t think so.
What stuck out to me immediately when Covington joined the team was his willingness to engage with the Target Center crowd and the clear enjoyment he got from bringing them to their feet. That energized the entire team and quickly made Covington a beloved member of the roster.
The intangible elements of Covington’s year aside though, he was a monster on the court, especially on the defensive end. He has the length and size to defend three positions at least, and outside of his one-on-one defense he’s so active in passing lanes that when he’s on the court the Wolves are practically guaranteed to force more turnovers than when he’s on the bench. The Wolves were actually one of the better defensive teams in the league during the brief stretch Covington shared the floor with the rest of the Wolves starters.
On offense, Covington doesn’t have the most versatile skillset but he’s a valuable floor spacer because of the shooting that Kyle talked about and he’s athletic enough to get to the rim and stay active on the boards.
Covington is a player the Wolves should be very happy to have on their team going forward into next season. The team will almost certainly look a little different next year as new President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas figures out how to get the team back to the playoffs. As someone with experience playing with the franchise and one of Karl-Anthony Towns’ best friends, Covington has a chance to emerge as an important locker room leader and culture-setter for the Wolves. With a full offseason to work on his game and get fully healthy, Covington should be ready for great things in 2019-20.