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Friday, August 17, 2012

Comparing Robert Covington to Danny Granger

I wanted to give a scouting report of Covington and the best way to truly access his game in my opinion is to compare him against Granger, who reminds me a ton of Covington. Using DraftExpress's college scouting report of Granger, I'll breakdown how they are similar and also the differences that could prevent Covington from achieving the same success.
"Granger has a prototypical body for an NBA small forward. He has good size and strength at 6-8, 225 pounds, a solid wingspan and very solid athletic ability. He is smart and smooth, but very physical, and has fantastic footwork to go along with an excellent (and very quick) vertical leap."
Robert Covington came out of high school at a paltry 190 pounds but has gained 30 pounds in the last three season, bringing him up to 225 pounds. His frame doesn't look much different than Granger's. Both of them are built really solid and by the time Covington is drafted, he should have no problem being near Granger's combine weight. Covington is also listed at 6'9'', slightly taller than Granger and possesses a nice wingspan. I'd consider both to be similar athletes - very solid and smooth yet not freakish. But their combination of size, athleticism, and coordination make them a rare catch.

Granger might have been more physical, as he was more of a post player in his first few seasons before transferring to New Mexico State, but Covington is no softy. He never hesitates to put a body on someone. Definitely no concern there at small forward - he is above average if anything. He also has good footwork from the perimeter, threatening the offense with multiple potential moves with the ball. Again, his footwork doesn't touch Granger's in the post as Covington doesn't operate from the post much, but thats not completely relevant when discussing small forwards.

Covington is a quick leaper as well and he averaged 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes (pace adjusted as always) to prove it. In Granger's junior season, he had 1.8 rejections per game.
"What makes Granger an especially intriguing player for playoff teams who are picking in the 2nd half of the 1st round (15-30) is the fact that he is so versatile. He can score from anywhere on the floor, create his own shot, defend, rebound, block shots, come up with steals, and pass very well."
I could have very easily wrote that last quote word for word while switching Granger for Covington. Versatility is the name of both of their games. The are stat sheet stuffers - guys who can average 2 steals and blocks a game while getting rebounds and covering both perimeter and post players. Covington has no problem getting his shot up anywhere on the court, possessing a good crossover and the balance to rise and shoot off the dribble. He is a very smooth shooter who can hit the mid-range jumper and come off screens to hit 3s. He also can drive and finish at the hoop.
"Granger is a team player, he's extremely competitive and unselfish and only cares about one thing, and that's winning games. He had numerous opportunities to pad his stats and show off for the many NBA scouts who have made the trip to Albuquerque this year, but has shown absolutely no interest in doing so. He has a good court demeanor and plays the game calm, but very confident. In terms of character everyone agrees that Granger is the type of player and person an NBA team can feel comfortable investing money in. He's very smart on and off the court. Granger does not take many bad shots, which is especially impressive if you consider that his team usually needs him to score in bundles to win. Most star players who play for smaller schools don't shoot a great percentage from the field, but Granger is sitting at a very solid 53% on the year."
 Covington has been able to lead Tennessee State to their first winning season since 1995-96 and their first 20 win season in 20 years. If it wasn't for Murray State's big season, they would have been dancing in March. Covington has been a big part in turning around an abysmal program. He has definitely proven he is a winner. In terms of unselfishness, that fits Covington as well. In fact, it would be nice if he was more aggressive. He doesn't force anything or show off to scouts either. In the three games against Murray State, which were the most attended by NBA personnel, Covington shot above 50% in each of them. He always takes good shots and plays with a similar demeanor as Granger. As a fellow star player at a small school, Covington joins Granger on the rare list of players that shoot a good percentage from the field - shooting 53% as well. How about that?
"He is a very good passer with nice court vision and a knack for putting the ball exactly where his teammates like it, especially when it comes to feeding the post. He prefers to make the simple pass, but can also throw up good lob passes for the alleyoop dunk. At times he can be a little too unselfish even, making the extra pass when his team would clearly benefit from him trying to use his skills to take over the game. This is a borderline strength/weakness on the NBA level, though, especially considering what his role on the floor will be."
Here I would say there is a bit of a discrepancy. Covington's passing isn't anything Id write home about. He's a solid passer, but from what Ive seen, not to the extend that DraftExpress described Granger. His unselfishness can be a positive in the same way Granger's is in the NBA, though. Makes him a good complimentary wing.
"Defensively, his team plays a lot of zone, but he shows excellent potential in this area in the rare opportunity he gets to guard the other team's star player. New Mexico wisely saves his energy for the offensive end where they need him more, and therefore can not afford to get in foul trouble either. When he does get to play the type of tough man to man defense he seems to enjoy, though, he really shines. His combination of strength, length, athletic ability, intensity, determination and excellent footwork give him the potential to be a very good defender on the NBA level once he is fully unleashed. These same skills along with his good hands and the ability to elevate quickly off the floor also make him a very good rebounder as well, pulling down nine rebounds or more 17 times so far this season. He is also a terrific shotblocker on the college level thanks to his wingspan and excellent leaping ability, but also has very nice timing to really intimidate and alter shots at the rim. He rotates well and possesses a solid understanding of where to place himself in a zone defense, while also showing good leadership skills in directing his teammates on this side of the floor. He anticipates well and knows how to get in the passing lanes, coming up with many steals and igniting the fast break."
Covington faces the same problem of playing a lot of zone, but at times in big games, such as against Murray State, he was the guy they trusted to cover Isaiah Canaan. He definitely has a good feel on the defensive end and makes a lot of plays happen and his versatility is never a negative. He's a great college defender who should be a fine perimeter defender in the NBA. While Granger was raved about in this section defensively, he never became an elite defender so I would say they are in the same wavelength here. Granger's physical tools are slightly better, but its pretty close across the board.
"Offensively, he has a wide variety of skills he can use to score, although none of them can be considered too polished right now. He likes to use his strength and footwork to back his man down towards the basket, finishing in a variety of ways (spin moves, around the hoop thanks to his wingspan. He can put the ball on the floor and take the ball strong to the basket, finishing with contact if necessary. His range has improved dramatically over the years, a testament to his work ethic, going from hitting 9 threes in his first two seasons at a 24% clip to shooting 44% from behind the arc on over three attempts per game. He has very good mechanics and a high release on his jump shot. He is also pretty solid from the line at 74% and possesses a decent mid-range game."
This is where Covington's more perimeter oriented play in college helps him out. While Granger had the advantage in the post, Covington has had more time to adjust to playing small forward. There has never been a question about Covington's shot, as he is an excellent shooter, especially with his feet set. He is very smooth running around screens and has a quick trigger. Granger's high release is true for Covington as well. For Granger, he quickly turned into this kind of player when he went to the NBA, so while Covington seemingly had the edge in college, I think he'd be happy being able to do the things Granger can do shooting wise in the NBA. And with his range and ability to get his shot off, he should have no problem being a threat from deep. From the free throw line, Covington was slightly better but failed to get to the line as much.

In terms of taking the ball to the hoop, Covington has shown that ability consistently although there are some questions. He is comfortable with taking the ball to the rim, but lacks the ball handling abilities to fully take advantage of it. Right now, he has the confidence and picks his spots well, but improvement is a must. With his size and mid-range game it doesn't need to be great, he just gets the ball stripped to much at this point. He also needs to work on keeping the ball higher and more protected when driving. His left hand isn't far behind his right hand though, as he had no reservations driving either direction.

 Granger's two main weaknesses revolved around his inexperience on the perimeter -
Most of Granger's weaknesses stem from the fact that he was played in the post for most of his collegiate career. His main one is his ball-handling, which will need serious work for him to become a shot-creating threat in the NBA. His left hand is particularly weak, as most everything of what he does off the dribble tends to be with his right. This hurts his slashing ability, as his first step isn't lightning quick as it is.

Granger's perimeter shooting has always been a big concern, but he has worked extremely hard to improve his range and become more consistent in this area. He didn't take a large amount of 3 pointers this year (averaging about 1.5 makes per game) so he will likely have to show that his jump shot is solid in workouts, especially when it comes to shooting off the dribble."
We've touched on these subjects already, but Covington's first step isn't great either. Both did cover some ground on their steps though and could bait the defender with jab steps and the threat of the jumper. Covington may actually have had a better left hand than Granger at this point in time.

Granger became the shooting type and thats where I expect Covington to follow in Granger's footsteps. They took slightly different paths in college as Granger was forced into the post more, but I believe their skillsets ultimately could wind up the same. As you can see in the two pictures, both have a little lean on their jumpers that make it impossible to contest. Being able to get your shot off whenever while being a very high percentage shooter is a recipe for success. Especially when you can fill the stat sheet in other categories as well and play unselfish basketball.

Two small school guys, both wearing number 33, and both were heavily slept on following their junior seasons. I am a firm believer that Covington could surge into the first round like Granger and become a top 20 pick. Becoming an all-star player is a bigger limb to walk out on, but if Covington has a Granger-esque work ethic it is plausible. Either way, Covington is way underrated right now. He is possibly the best senior in the nation.

1 comment:

  1. He doesn't force anything or show off to scouts either. In the three games against Murray State, which were the most attended by NBA personnel, Covington shot above 50% in each of them. He always takes good shots and plays with a similar demeanor as Granger. As a fellow star player at a small school, Covington joins Granger on the rare list of players that shoot a good percentage from the field - shooting 53% as well. How about that?