Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington wants to be the best defender in the NBA, and he believes he has what it takes to succeed following his impressive stint with the Sixers last year.

Covington was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team last season, joining the likes of Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Victor Oladipo. In an interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, however, the 27-year-old Illinois native revealed he is setting his sights higher and shared his belief that he can become the league’s top defender.

“Yes, I definitely feel like I can [be the NBA’s best defender],” Covington said. “It just comes from hard work and not giving up.”

A once derided defender, Covington also shared how he went from zero to hero and improved his overall defensive game. He admitted drawing inspiration from “some of the best defenders” and watching “a lot” of game films.

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“I watch some of the best defenders and what they’ve done, including a lot of guys who are very unique. That’s what has allowed me to get to the point I’m at now – just watching a lot of film of guys and then going out and applying the things that I’ve learned. I’ve also been fortunate to have really good coaches who have taught me a lot.”

Covington’s rise as an NBA player and defensive stalwart surely didn’t come easy. He went undrafted in 2013 and had multiple assignments in the G League before landing in Philadelphia. He was also involved in plenty of trade rumors last year, though the former Tennessee State standout has since proven his value to the Sixers.

Covington led the league in deflections last season (3.9) and averaged 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He started in 80 games for the Sixers, helping them attain a 52-30 record.