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ESPN Ranks Robert Covington 97th Best Player in NBA

A very rational reaction to ESPN’s ranking of Lord Covington.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The first part of ESPN’s annual top-100 list came out this morning, and needless to say, I am very, very unimpressed. I have a lot of issues with the version that came out today, which ranked players 51-100, in their eyes. Nothing is more glaring to me, however, than Robert Covington being ranked 97th. Remember, this list is a projection of how players will fare only in the 2019-20 season.

Should I let this bother me? Nope. Is the whole exercise entirely meaningless? Yep, but I’m going to overreact anyways because I miss NBA content.

You really mean to tell me that a group of people sat down and decided there were 96 players in the NBA they’d rather have on their roster than Robert Covington? For reference, Robert Covington is ranked behind Ja Morant, 20 spots lower than Kyle Kuzma, and 41 (!!!) spots behind Brandon Ingram, just to name a few.

First things first, there is a zero percent chance that Ja Morant is going to be a better basketball player than RoCo this season. Rookies in general are almost always bad, and Ja’s shaky shooting and slight frame make him a very strong candidate to be very bad in terms of contributing towards winning. Will Morant eventually be better than RoCo? Maybe, or even probably, but not this year.

As for the (former-ish?) Lakers young core, I just don’t see how you can look at the bodies of work between these players and come away with this distinction. You could convince me that Brandon Ingram might be a better player this season than Covington, but it would take an awful lot of convincing.

Ingram has shown flashes on both ends, but still exhibits much of the inconsistency so often found in young players. Covington is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate who is an elite three-point shooter. There’s no basis whatsoever to place Brandon Ingram over 40 spots ahead of RoCo.

Then, there’s Kyle Kuzma. I just don’t get it. A terrible defender, passer, and average rebounder who made his way to a relatively inefficient 18.7 ppg is now better than Robert Covington? Please.

Even by ESPN’s very own metric, Projected RPM Wins, this looks certifiably insane. For the 2019-20 season, ESPN projects Robert Covington to be worth 6.5 wins. The only player projected to be worth more wins by ESPN’s very own metric in the 51-100 range is Andre Drummond.

I don’t mean to pile on Morant, Kuzma, or Ingram. They were just three glaring players that stuck out to me in respect to Robert Covington. The sum of the three of those players’ Projected RPM Wins is -0.2. Meaning, according to RPM, Covington projects to be worth nearly 7 more wins than that trio COMBINED.

Now, is RPM wins a perfect stat? Of course not. The formula has never been made available which makes it incredibly hard to critique, but it is quite ironic how all over the place the ESPN rankings are while using their own metric.

Whew, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Go Wolves.