Former Sixers Report: Covington, Saric Adjusting, Holmes Thriving


By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

The Philadelphia 76ers are off to a 19-9 start to the season with 14 of those 19 wins coming at home. Last season, it took them until January 5 to get their 19th win and in 2016-17, they didn't get win number 19 until February 9. The Sixers hovered around .500 for the first 14 games of the season but have really come into their own since acquiring Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves. Since then, they are 11-3 and the deal seems to be working out well for both sides.

In this edition of the Former Sixers Report, we'll take a look at how the pieces of the Butler deal are shaking out on the other end while also checking in on some other former Sixers around the league.

Robert Covington (MIN): The Timberwolves are 8-5 since adding RoCo and Dario Saric to the mix. Immediately, Covington took on a starting role and has elevated Minnesota's defensive efforts to the next level. In 12 games with the T'Wolves, Cov is averaging 14 points, six rebounds and 2.6 steals per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the arc. Covington is tied with Paul George for tops in the NBA in steals per game and tied with Jimmy Butler for first in deflections per game. Minnesota is eighth in the league in net rating (6.1), one spot above Philadelphia, since the trade and is also ranked fourth in defensive rating (102.2), eight spots above the Sixers (107.0).

Dario Saric (MIN): The Homie has had to adjust a little more than Covington as he went from a starting spot in Philadelphia to a bench role in Minnesota. You could tell from interviews after the trade, and even now, that Dario is still figuring things out through a transition he believed would never happen. He's been performing well, especially defensively.  Since November 14 (his first game w/MIN), among players that have played at least 8 games and play 12+ minutes, Dario is ranked 10th in defensive rating (95.9). Through five December games, he's averaging 9.6 points on 54.3 percent shooting, including a 43.8 percent mark from beyond the arc. After averaging over 30 minutes per game in Philly, Saric is at 22.8 minutes per game in Minny.

Richaun Holmes (PHX): The Sixers decided to part ways with Holmes and re-sign Amir Johnson this offseason in a move that looked to make sense at the time, but now…not so much. Amir was a serviceable back-up to Joel Embiid last season, but he's regressed considerably this season. Meanwhile, Richaun Holmes has gotten some more opportunities to play in Phoenix behind No. 1 overall pick, DeAndre Ayton. Holmes had been stuck behind Tyson Chandler to start the year, but after the Suns moved on from the vet, Holmes began to see an uptick in minutes. Over his last 10 games, Holmes is posting averages of 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds on 71 percent shooting. His defensive box plus/minus is a +2 and he has a defensive rating of 108 this year, which isn't bad for a big man who isn't as big as an Embiid/Drummond. In his most recent game, a 123-119 overtime loss to the Clippers, Richaun scored 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go along with seven boards and three blocks. 

Ersan Ilyasova (MIL): For the better part of the preseason and first half of the season thus far, national media outlets magnified the Sixers losing Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli. Philly was never going to sign Ersan to a three-year deal and they seem to be doing fine without him. Ilyasova has been a solid bench piece for the Bucks, who hold the Eastern Conference's second spot, averaging 7.4 points on 45.4 percent shooting. His three-point mark (.345) is 20 points below his career average and it's sliding even more over the last five games (.286). Still, the Bucks are good enough to power through Ersan's struggles, posting an 18-8 record to this point. 

Marco Belinelli (SAS): The other buy-out guy for the Sixers from a year ago went back to San Antonio in free agency. The 32-year-old three-point specialist is averaging 9.3 points per game, but is shooting just 33.1 percent from beyond and 36.2 percent overall. 

Nerlens Noel (OKC): Noel has served as the Thunder's primary back-up to Steven Adams, averaging just over 14 minutes per game. Nerlens has been strong defensively off the bench for Oklahoma City, averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. Noel has played a big part in helping the Thunder lead the NBA in defensive rating.

Jerami Grant (OKC): Grant is a consistent starter for the Thunder now after coming off the bench for all but one of his 81 regular season games last year. Safe to say, he's excelling as a starter, averaging career-highs in points (11.7), rebounds (4.8) and minutes (30.1) per game. Grant is also shooting a career-best 39 percent from beyond the arc on 3.1 attempts per game. Grant hasn't played a full season with the Sixers since 2015-16, so it's tough to believe he is still just 24 years old. 

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (OKC): TLC has played in just 14 of 25 games for the Thunder, averaging 2.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting. There was a stretch in mid-November where he got some more minutes, but he's only played six minutes total since November 28. 

Nik Stauskas (POR): After shooting 36.4 percent from beyond the arc in November, Sauce Castillo is just 2-for-13 through four games in December for Portland. In 26 games, he's averaging seven points, shooting 36.5 percent from three-point range. In Portland's opener against the Lakers, Stauskas scored 24 points on 5-for-8 shooting from beyond. On November 28, he tallied 18 points on 5-for-8 from three as well. So, pretty much same ol' story for Nik. 

Evan Turner (POR): The former No. 2 overall pick from 2010, Turner is a staple of Portland's bench unit. Now in his 9th season, Turner is averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebound while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor. 

Lou Williams (LAC): Drafted all the way back in 2005 out of high school by the Sixers, Williams continues to do his thing. Although his shooting percentages are down significantly, he's still averaging 17.2 points per game and is one of the driving forces as to why the Clippers are off to a 17-9 start, good for fourth in the West. He can go off at any point and is dangerous from any area of the court. 

Jrue Holiday (NO): The guy whose trade sparked the beginning of the Process has developed into one of the league's best point guards. In his 10th season, Holiday is posting career-highs in points (20.5), assists (8.8) and steals (1.8.). He still doesn't have much range from beyond the arc, hitting just 30 percent of his shots this season, but he has shown improvement over the first six games of December, shooting 41.9 percent from deep and over 51 percent overall. Holiday is a guy you'd love to have back in a Sixers uniform, even with Ben Simmons in the mix. Out of all of the Process trades, this one turned out better for the Pelicans as Nerlens Noel didn't work out for the Sixers in the long run.

Jahlil Okafor (NO): Different year, same story for Jahlil Okafor. After working on his range and continuing to slim down and become more mobile this offseason, Okafor has been getting next to no minutes for the Pelicans. He had an injury to start the year, but has only appeared in 13 of the team's 29 games, averaging just 5.4 minutes. 

Thaddeus Young (IND): Thad remains a big part of the Pacers, averaging just under 29 minutes per game in his 12th season. He's shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and is scoring 10.6 points per game. Over his last 10, Young is averaging 12.6 points on 51.9 percent shooting. 

Michael Carter-Williams (HOU): The former 2013-14 Rookie of the Year is playing sparingly for the Rockets after getting a lot of minutes when James Harden was sidelined. MCW is averaging 4.3 points in less than 10 minutes per game. 

Mikal Bridges (PHX): Former Villanova product/Sixer-for-a-minute Mikal Bridges has started 13 of his first 27 NBA games. He's averaging 7.4 points, shooting 33.7 percent from long-range.

Justin Anderson (ATL): Anderson's time in Philadelphia was marred by injury and he was dealt to Atlanta in a three-team trade prior to the season. The 25-year-old has played in just nine games due to injury recovery, averaging 4.6 points in just over eight minutes per game. He's only played nine minutes over the last three games.




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