On Arnett Moultrie, Doug Collins, and The D-League

One of three known pictures of Arnett Moultrie in the world. - Eric Hartline-US Presswire

The rookie finally played last night and he wasn't bad.

Though I'm a devout believer in speaking in hyperbole, there is nothing outlandish about the statement that the Sixers big men this season have been gum-on-your-shoe-oh-wait-that's-HIV bad. Excluding Thaddeus Young (most important player on the team), the combination of Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown, and Lavoy Allen have amounted to the worst frontcourt in the NBA by a significant margin.

And yet up until last night, Doug Collins had played rookie big man Arnett Moultrie a grand total of 26 minutes. TOTAL.

Before I get into reasons why this is disgusting, I'm going to make your counter-argument for you. Yes, he was injured going into the season and that kept him out of game/practice action for a bit of time. But that's about 5 months ago and there hasn't been any news about his ankle since. No, we don't get to see him play every day so there is the rationale that Collins would know if he's ready more than we would. Of course, this is correct.

BUT.

When your three options at center are playing basketball like they have staplers attached to their arms and nipple rings for feet, you have to see what else you have. The Sixers are losing games because they can't cover anyone inside and they've got no scoring option in the post outside of awkwardly smooth Thad and the occasional post-up of Evan Turner or Jrue Holiday. At least Moultrie can play above the rim on occasion.

I do not care if he's not ready. I don't care if he hasn't even looked at the playbook since July. (What playbook?) The Sixers traded into the ass of the first round to get him. They dealt next year's first round pick (lotto-protected) to get the 27th overall pick and have gone on record as saying the rookie out of Mississippi State was the TENTH player on their big board. They must love him unless something has drastically changed their minds.

This is all speculation, but it seems like Collins is just hesitant to play rookies much. He gave a decent amount of minutes to Evan but not as much as we wanted him to, and Evan was a mostly-finished product coming out of school. Nikola Vucevic famously hit the rookie wall at ludicrous speed last year, according to Collins, and he barely saw the court the second half of the season. Lavoy also barely played until Vuce went deep into the doghouse. Doug likes his veterans. It wasn't a travesty because the previous two seasons, the Sixers had at least two remotely capable humans in Thad and Elton Brand. Now, however, it is.

I don't particularly love Moultrie. Really didn't want him at 15, wasn't thrilled about him at 27. But the Sixers had to love him and that's how we have to consider him in their minds. The reason for not playing him must be that Doug doesn't think he's ready. But since Kwame/Spencer/Lavoy have a combined net rating of -16.4 points per 100 possessions, you have passed the point of reasonable stubbornness not to try anything else.

News of the WELL DUH variety broke yesterday that the Sixers were considering sending Moultrie to the D-League. (Quick reminder that though the wheels are still turning on a Utah Flash purchase, they're still part of the foursome affiliated with the Sioux Falls Skyforce.) I'm one of the biggest D-League supporters out there, and if Moultrie were blocked by superior talents and unable to get minutes, I'd happily let him play and improve in the D-League.

But he's not. By my estimation and by no massive success of his own, he's easily the most talented of the Sixers bigs impeding him. Doug's just not playing him. It took an embarrassing blowout at home at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves for Collins to finally play Arnett more than 10 minutes. He was decent. He got a bunch of O-boards and got to the line. But he's a rookie and he's going to struggle. That's no reason to not play him, especially when the alternatives are equivalent to willingly shoving your face into a fire and hoping you don't get burned.

This is not even mentioning how Moultrie is infinitely more important to the future of this team than Kwame and, arguably, Hawes and Lavoy. Even thinking in the short-term, something has to be done.

If my options are Play Moultrie 10 Minutes Per Game or Send Him To The D-League For 35, I choose the first one. I'd rather he stay close to the offense and continue improving within the system. But if he's just going to ride the pine while we watch Kwame Brown attempt to catch a pass without triggering nuclear war, send him to Sioux Falls.

I made it this whole article without mentioning Andrew Bynum. Nevermind.

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