Sixers' Robert Covington, Joel Embiid named to all-defensive teams

The Sixers’ Robert Covington earned an all-defensive first-team selection and Joel Embiid was named to the second team, the NBA announced Wednesday.

Covington, who signed a four-year contract extension in November, received harsh criticism when his game dipped in the Sixers’ second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. But he helped lead the Sixers’ defensive charge throughout their 52-win season and was rewarded for his efforts with 27 first-team votes and 36 second-team votes.

Players receive two points for each first-team vote and one point for each second-team vote.

Covington, a small forward, led the league in deflections (312), and among forwards who played at least 30 minutes per game had a league-best defensive rating of 99. Covington was ninth in the league in steals per game (1.7) with the sixth-most total steals (137).

Covington, a former G-League rookie of the year, is the first Sixers player to be named to the all-defensive first team since Dikembe Mutombo in 2000-01.

Embiid, one of three finalists for the defensive player of the year award, was named to the all-defensive second team in his first all-defensive selection. Embiid and Covington, who helped lead the league’s third-ranked defense, are the first Sixers teammates to receive all-defensive selections in the same year since Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones in 1984-85.

The 7-foot-2 center finished the regular season fourth in blocks per game (1.8) and seventh in rebounds (11.0). Embiid notched a career-high seven blocks in his dominating game Nov. 15 on the road against the Lakers. He also finished that night with 46 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists.

Joining Covington on the all-defensive first-team frontline are defensive player of the year finalists Anthony Davis, of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Rudy Gobert, of the Utah Jazz. The first team is rounded out by guards Victor Oladipo, of the Indiana Pacers, and Jrue Holiday, of the Pelicans.

In addition to Embiid, the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, Boston Celtics’ Al Horford, San Antonio Spurs’ Dejounte Murray and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler were the other second-team selections.

Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, a rookie of the year finalist and all-rookie first-team selection, received five first-team votes and a total of 16 all-defensive votes.