Gems of the Process: Robert Covington and TJ McConnell

The reluctance to use cap space to sign veterans was one of the hallmark hot topics and criticisms of the Sam Hinkie era. "It could show all the young guys how to be a professional" "It could establish a better culture" "It could make the product on the court more respectable", it was a criticism I have always disagreed with emphatically, why waste cap space on vets, when you can take fliers on young guys and maximize your chances at having a top pick in the NBA draft?

If you're going to have a plan, you should fully commit to it, not half-ass it just to appease the media, look better in the public eye or try to squeeze out a few more pointless wins in what is going to be a losing season anyway. While critics couldn't wait to blame the team for lack of vets at every turn, no one ever talked about one of the benefits of Hinkie constantly taking fliers on young players like the Tony Wroten's, the JaKarr Sampson's and the Henry Sims of the world. Maybe, just maybe, with all the court time they got --court time people thought they didn't deserve-- some players would eventually take unexpected leaps in their games to become solid or good NBA players down the line, say like, Robert Covington and Timothy John McConnell.

There are a lot of reasons why Hinkie truthers can point to the entire four years as a plan that has worked, still having enough cap space for a max player this summer, watching two promising franchise players while another one is currently on ice because of injury...(yeah sounds about right), and still having future lottery picks down the road because of Hinkie crafted trades. One that hardly gets brought up, however, is the development of RoCo and TJ.

Covington is lined up to have a big payday after November 15th, when both he and the team can officially renegotiate and extend his contract after spending his first three seasons with the team on a minimum deal worth $3.02 million dollars. From the '14-'15 season until now Covington has developed into one of the best wing defenders in the league, and the leap he took last year on that end was unparalleled for a minimum deal type of player. He led the league in deflections last year because of his quick steel-trap hands, and led all small forwards in Defensive Real-Plus Minus by a mile, guarding the team's best player most of the time.

Couple that with his ability to shoot --ignore the flukey start to last season--, he has become the perfect 3-and-D wing player that is coveted by most teams trying to adapt to the modern NBA. With more talent on the roster this year, he is now in the perfect role and has overachieved. RoCo has shot 49.2% from three on seven attempts per game so far this year, and while it's unlikely that percentage holds up, I expect him to shoot somewhere in the low forties, especially when he is getting looks like this.