With last night’s loss in Miami, it seems pretty safe to say that the Sixers will be missing the playoffs this season. No, they’re not mathematically eliminated, but their inconsistent and uninspiring play doesn’t lead one to believe that they can string together the serious winning streak that it would take to make a playoff push.
However, instead of focusing on a forgettable season, management and fans alike should try to pull the positives out of the remaining 2012-2013 campaign.
One such positive is the increased exposure and promising play of rookie Arnett Moultrie, who has been buried on the bench for much of the season.
Moultrie, who spent a single season at Mississippi State after two at UTEP, had an ankle injury that sidelined him at the beginning of the season. Struggling to learn a new system while rehabbing proved difficult for Arnett, who saw very little action in the opening months of the season.
On top of this, Coach Doug Collins is notorious for withholding playing time from young players, as he did with Evan Turner, a number two overall pick, during his first two seasons. This aspect of his approach to coaching is among the most criticized of Coach Collins and in all likelihood, Collins probably wouldn’t have played Moultrie major minutes if he were completely healthy and comfortable with the Sixers’ system.
Throughout the first half of the season the Sixers were very much in the playoff picture. They were also still under the impression that Bynum would eventually be back to help the team with the playoff push, making it even more unlikely that an unproven rookie could crack Collin’s rotation.
Now that it’s clear that Bynum probably won’t be back and the Sixers have little more than an outside shot at an eight seed however, Collins feels he has little left to lose, might as well see what Moultrie is made of.
Moultrie’s minutes have shot up substantially over the past two months, going from a mere 3.5 minutes per game in January to a full fifteen minutes per contest thus far this month. Though his numbers for the month of March aren’t overwhelming; 6 points, 3.8 rebounds per, they represent improvements and an increasing confidence in his own play.
In his limited time on the court, Moultrie has shown that he can play hard on each end of the floor, and he happens to have a great nose for the ball; he often seems to be in the right place at the right time. He has demonstrated a prowess for offensive rebounding (2.4 a game during the month of March) and securing extra possessions for the Sixers as well.
Though his post game needs to be polished and he needs to develop some semblance of a jump shot, Moultrie is a good finisher, and can put down a put-back or an alley-oop without a problem. He is extremely athletic for his size as well, which will help his development and utility for the team.
With continued development, Moultrie might be able to morph into a Josh Smith type player, which would be great for the future of the franchise. But in order to improve, Moultrie needs to continue to get minutes, and if he does, his development may serve as one of the few bright spots for the Sixers this season.