LA Clippers in review: Robert Covington receives minimal playing time

Robert Covington, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Covington, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Marcus Morris Sr. first, Nicolas Batum second, Robert Covington third.

Stashed beneath the LA Clippers’ abundance of veteran forwards, Covington failed to crack Tyronn Lue’s rotation.

The Tennessee State product played in just 48 games and averaged 16.2 minutes per game, the lowest in his career since his rookie season with the Houston Rockets. In limited minutes, he averaged six points on 44.5 percent shooting alongside 3.5 rebounds.

But while his numbers don’t tell a compelling story, Covington was, at times, a short yet much-needed relief from a shot-stuffing Morris or a pleasantly mediocre Batum.

The second-year Clipper brings out palpable energy on the defensive end — much like former Clipper Patrick Beverley. Putting his length and sneaky athleticism on full display, he finds ways to stall opponents, whether that’d be a pace-slowing deflection, exhilarating block or a steal.

And the numbers attest to Covington’s continued defensive efforts. He boasts defensive box plus/minus of 2.1 in comparison to Batum’s 1.2 and Morris’ -0.2. Not to mention, Covington’s steal and block percentages (2.4 and 3.7 percent, respectively) are better than those of his counterparts (Batum’s 1.5 and 2.3 percent; Morris’ 1.1 and 1 percent).

Robert Covington’s game meshes perfectly with the Clippers, yet he receives minimal playing time.

Even in short spurts, Robert Covington is quick to make an impact on the floor for the LA Clippers. When put alongside some of the league’s most elite defenders in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, there have definitely been times the team’s defense looked impenetrable. And extremely intimidating, of course.

On the offensive end, Covington is a reliable three-point shooter that can help space the floor. Though he can’t quite drive to the hoop like Leonard or take guy on in isolation like Morris, he knows how to find the bottom of the net. The Bellwood Ill. native can use his frame inside the paint and is a capable finisher around the rim.

It is not so clear why Covington didn’t receive as much playing time as we expected him to — esepcially amidst injuries and continued struggles from Morris. Just a season prior, the newly-acquired Clipper contributed soon after he was traded from the Portland Trailblazers.

In his first 23 games as a Clipper, the 32-year-old was a key piece in the rotation, logging 10.4 points on 45 percent shooting from deep, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks in 22 minutes per game.

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It’s clear that Tyronn Lue and the Clippers know exactly what Covington brings to the table, so it’s hard to see why his role was reduced the way it was. And given a limited role, Covington couldn’t quite impact the team at the winning level —  a tough-defending, energy-filled gem veiled by a lack of playing time.