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What Do the Philadelphia 76ers Have in Arnett Moultrie?

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COMMENTARY | When Andrew Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers it cost the team, amongst other things, a first-round draft pick.

Bynum had and still has health issues. He has yet to play a game in a Philadelphia jersey and everyone in Philadelphia is asking "What do we have in him?"

Surrendering a first-round draft pick to land him in the gamble, however, was understandable. Bynum has been a key part of two NBA Championship winning teams. Last season he was an All-Star and earned All-NBA Second Team honors.

Acquiring Arnett Moultrie, who had never played an NBA game in any jersey, cost the Philadelphia 76ers a first round pick as well. He's been healthy yet people in Philadelphia have to be asking, "What do we have in him?"

Trading a first-round draft pick for him is not as understandable as it was for Bynum.

Moultrie played three seasons of NCAA basketball and wasn't a household name.

He played two seasons for UTEP. He averaged 8.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game as a freshman, and he had per game averages of 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore.

Not being a popular name, however, doesn't mean he can't play though. As a transfer at Mississippi State, Moultrie averaged 16.4 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game and was named to the All-SEC Team.

His play his last season in college influenced the NBA Champion Miami Heat to draft him in the first round and influenced the 76ers to trade for him.

There's some potential in Moultrie, but signs of it in his rookie season have been scarce.

Moultrie has played in only 28 of the team's 63 games, including spending a stretch in the NBA D-League. He's averaging 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 9.6 minutes per game.

Those are small numbers but he has flashes of good productivity, most happening recently.

In a February 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers he scored 12 points on 6-9 shooting. In the following three games, Moultrie averaged 7.0 rebounds per game in 19.7 minutes per game.

There is also the four game stretch from February 28 to March 5 where Moultrie went 12-12 from the field and averaged 6.0 points per game. Those aren't All-Star caliber numbers, but it does show a good level of consistency and finishing.

Answering why Moultrie hasn't played much this season is not easy.

Is it because he started behind the eight-ball by suffering an ankle sprain in a pre-draft workout that hasn't fully healed?

Or does have to do more with Sixers head coach Doug Collins, who is known to not be a fan of playing and working with rookies? Last season Collins buried center Nikola Vucevic on the bench. Vucevic, just one season later, is the starting center of the Orlando Magic and averaging 12.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

Also, the Sixers have struggled mightily in the post and off the glass. If Moultrie can play and contribute, why hasn't he been able to get on the court, contending for time with the likes of Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown?

As the season winds down and Philadelphia falls further and further out of playoff attention, the Sixers need to give Moultrie more minutes and more consistent minutes.

It's time for the franchise to figure out what Moultrie brings to the table and if he can fill a role. It's time to see if Moultrie was worth a first-round draft pick.

Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.

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