Alumni Report: Simmons, Covington becoming focal parts of NBA teams

By Alex Busch | December 10, 2017

Each year brings a new group of G Leaguers who become regular NBA players, making a significant contribution to their team, becoming the gold standard that the other guys down below can look up to. Here’s a look at some former NBA G League stars who are making their presence felt at the next level.

Jonathon Simmons, Orlando Magic (Austin Spurs alum)

After coming over to Orlando in free agency this offseason, Simmons has become a vital piece of the Magic’s lineup. Around Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, Simmons has contributed each and every night so far this season. Simmons is averaging 14.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in 27.5 minutes on the floor. As of late, he’s been productive shooting the ball. During just the month of December he is averaging 16 points on 44.3 percent shooting. He has reached double-digit points in seven of his last eight games, and he has also done so in 21 of 26 games this year. Simmons has flashed a mid-range jumper, along with powerful slam dunks throughout the season.

Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce alum)

Tyler Johnson has also made his own path in the Miami Heat organization as a very solid scorer off the bench. Johnson is averaging 10.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 27.2 minutes per game so far this year. Johnson is already scoring 16.7 points per game in December, coming off his most productive night of the season — a 25-point night against the Spurs on Dec. 6. He was 9-for-12 (75 percent) from the field, and added a career-high five 3-pointers on just eight attempts. He also pitched in three rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal. Johnson is really heating up in South Beach, dropping double-digit points in each of Miami’s three contests this month, while shooting 62.1 percent from the field, including 58.8 percent from 3-point range so far.

Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers (Rio Grande Valley Vipers alum)

For one of the most popular teams in the NBA this season, Covington has seemed to fit in just perfectly. While all eyes are on rookie phenom Ben Simmons and big man Joel Embiid, Covington has had quite the start to the year for the 76ers. Covington has become a threat on the glass, averaging 6.2 rebounds to go with his 15.1 points per game, but his outside shot has become lethal for the Sixers. Covington is currently fourth in the NBA in 3-pointers made (77), and is just six shy of Stephen Curry for third. Covington is shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc, good for second on the team.

Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers alum)

Just like Covington, Capela has been playing beside a dynamic duo, in James Harden and Chris Paul. While Harden puts up monster stat lines and showcases his argument for MVP, Capela has become Mr. Steady for the Rockets. He is averaging a double-double so far this season: 13.2 points and 11.2 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game. Capela has been a monster on the glass, especially late in games, as he has grabbed 15 or more boards on five occasions. He has put up the points, as well, going in for huge slam dunks and finishing in the paint with success. Capela is coming off a week with two 20-plus point games, including a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds in Houston’s 118-97 win over the Pacers on Nov. 29.

Justin Holiday (Santa Cruz Warriors alum)

After having a very productive preseason and start to the season, including a 25-point night against the Cavaliers in the Bulls’ third game of the season, Holiday has continued his offense for Chicago. Although the Bulls have gotten off to a rough start to the year, Holiday has shined with double-digit points in 18 of his 22 appearances, including three 20-plus point nights. Holiday most recently went off for a 25-point game against the Suns on Nov. 28, where he was 9-for-15 (60 percent) from the field, adding a career-best six 3-pointers, along with five assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals. Look for Holiday to continue this pace as he’s been seeing the floor for 34.4 minutes on average per game so far.


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