Now that the 76ers are going to spend the next three weeks minus the services of their hardest working player, starting forward Thaddeus Young, there is no excuse for the Sixers not to use this time to find out exactly what Arnett Moultrie is capable of.
Selected by Miami with the 27th pick in the 2012 draft and then promptly dealt that same day to the Sixers in exchange for the draft rights to Justin Hamilton (45th overall pick), Moultrie fell behind from the start due to a sprained ankle that cost him an entire summer’s worth of conditioning.
Moultrie, who says he’s in shape at last – he’s actually been saying this for the last few weeks – didn’t open eyes during his seven-game stint in the D-League when he averaged 9.7 points and 6.10 rebounds earlier this season. In fact, the attention he did receive was mostly due to his inability to distinguish himself while playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
But starting with Wednesday’s game against Indiana, the 6-11, 249-pounder out of Mississippi has a huge opportunity to begin making a name for himself.
Averaging just 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 15 appearances with the Sixers, Moultrie is going to see his number called over the next three weeks - or however long it is before Young returns to the lineup – more than anyone who follows this team would have expected.
It’s a rare chance for him to impress coach Doug Collins, and here are the keys for him if he wants to make the kind of impression that won’t result in his disappearance from the rotation when Young’s hamstring heals.
1. Go to the glass and rebound the way a 6-11, 240 pounder is supposed to. It was Moultrie who led the SEC in rebounding last season, not No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis. The Sixers appear to be getting worse on the glass as the season progresses. Rebound the ball during stretch of games and Collins and the coaching staff won’t forget it. It will get you on the floor the rest of the season, especially since the Sixers look as if they have abandoned the idea of using Kwame Brown regularly in the rotation.
2. Work your tail off at the defensive end. Moultrie is a bigger body than Young, who bulked up over the summer but on many nights was forced to guard much bigger players down low. Moultrie doesn’t have the know-how that Young has, but he does have the size the length needed to make his mark defensively
3. Forget about your offense. Seriously, the Sixers have enough players (Nick Young, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner) upon whom they are going to expect to pick up their offense to account for Young’s missing 14.9 points per game. Moultrie needs to be thinking about replacing those team-high 7.4 boards sitting on the bench for the next few weeks.