Trail Blazers

If Trail Blazers go small -- Robert Covington feels like he thrives at the five

Trail Blazers

When Robert Covington made his first media appearance in Portland back in November, he made sure to discuss his versatility and his ability to guard all positions.

He takes ownership of those statements.

And that’s what he did Monday night while guarding Raptors power forward/center Pascal Siakam.

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Following the Blazers come from behind victory over Toronto Monday night, Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard explained how Covington “took it personal” after Siakam got off to a hot start.   

The 6’7” forward discussed what that matchup on Siakam meant to him after Tuesday's practice.

“I definitely took it personal. I told [Coach Stotts] that I have him and I was going to show him,” Covington said of his conversation at halftime with Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

With Jusuf Nurkic out in the second half due to a left quad contusion that he suffered late in the first quarter, Portland went small and played Covington at the five.

 

And that's a position that Covington has accepted and enjoys the challenge.

It just plays into the type of player that I am. I’m able to guard 1-5… And for me, to be in that position, I don’t have just a set primary matchup, it’s just owning the ownership of the defensive side. You have to know people’s tendencies and not just certain players. That plays a heavy part in my bag because I’m able to do so much.

Robert Covington

The 30-year-old is no stranger to playing heavy minutes at the center spot. He spent time playing the five in Houston last season.

And since the Warriors changed the game, we’ve seen so many teams opting for smaller lineups.

But what does RoCo enjoy most about playing small-ball?

The versatility.

“A lot of teams are going towards that route… We’re able to do a lot of different things – space the floor on the offensive side. On the defensive side, we’re able to switch everything and then have whole different matchups.”

It allows me to be at my highest abilities.

Robert Covington

If Monday night is any indication, the Trail Blazers offseason moves of bringing in Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. with their length and versatility is paying dividends. 

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Playing a small-ball lineup means a more versatile Trail Blazers team and we know Covington is all for it.

Once Nurkic returns to the lineup, there’s no question the Blazers will still run through him, but it wouldn’t be surprising to still see experimental lineups with no true center at times depending on matchups.