2012 NBA Draft: Why 76ers Treated Their Fans with Arnett Moultrie Pick

Matt BoczarContributor IIIJuly 2, 2012

2012 NBA Draft: Why 76ers Treated Their Fans with Arnett Moultrie Pick

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    Heading into the 2012 NBA Draft, two of the Philadelphia 76ers’ biggest needs included finding a shooter to improve the team’s 22nd ranked points per game average, and adding a scoring presence to the frontcourt.

    With the 15th pick in the first round, the Sixers drafted a player who seemingly has similar attributes to the current players on the roster, in Maurice Harkless.

    However, any initial confusion or even frustration felt by fans lessened when the Sixers acquired their second player in the draft.

    After passing on him with the 15th pick, the Sixers acquired Arnett Moultrie, the 27th pick, from the Miami Heat in exchange for a second-round pick and a future lottery-protected-first round pick.

    While Harkless’ talent makes him an intriguing selection, Moultrie’s presence fits a need that the Sixers had to fill this offseason in order to improve on last season.  The Sixers’ acquisition of Moultrie adds depth to their frontcourt while also giving them a potential scoring presence in the post.

    After initially causing fans to scratch their heads with their first pick, the Sixers addressed an immediate need with their second acquisition.

    Here are five ways the 76ers treated their fans by picking Moultrie.

Scoring Presence

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    Last season, only Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand averaged at least 10 points and six rebounds per game among members of the Sixers’ frontcourt.

    Furthermore, of players who played primarily at the 4 and 5, only Brand and Spencer Hawes averaged nearly 10 points and over seven rebounds.

    Moultrie, meanwhile, is coming off a season at Mississippi State in which he averaged 16.4 points per game.

    Moultrie had 11 games of 20 points or more last season, including a career-high 34 point performance in the first round of the NIT.

    In total, Moultrie recorded 18 double-doubles last season.

    For the Sixers, Brand was able to post 12 double-doubles last season, including one in the postseason against the Boston Celtics, while Hawes posted nine.

    Moultrie expanded his shooting range a bit last season.  Although he attempted just 18 three-pointers, his 44.4 three-point percentage was the highest of his collegiate career.

    Moultrie also gives the Sixers’ frontcourt another young player who could play a large role going forward, similar to Lavoy Allen.

    Between his 54.9 percent field goal percentage and over 10 rebounds per game last season, Moultrie’s addition gives the Sixers’ frontcourt a young scoring presence, and gives fans the potential scorer in the post to cheer for that they haven’t had in recent seasons.

Rebounding

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    The Sixers averaged 43.2 rebounds per game last season, ranking seventh in the NBA.

    However, the team’s ranking drops when it comes to offensive rebounds per game.

    As a team, the Sixers averaged 10.7 offensive rebounds per game last season, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the league.

    The team’s highest offensive rebound per game averages belong to Brand, Thaddeus Young and Hawes.  All three averaged under three offensive rebounds per game.

    Moultrie, on the other hand, averaged 3.7 offensive rebounds per game last season.

    Moultrie’s 10.5 rebounds per game put him in the top 15 in all of Division I men’s basketball.  His average was also just higher than Anthony Davis’, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

    Only Thomas Robinson had a higher rebounding average than Moultrie among first-round picks, even though Moultrie was taken 22 spots after Robinson.

    Moultrie also averaged 6.8 defensive rebounds per game last season.  The Sixers’ leader in that category?  Guard Evan Turner at 5.4.

    On both sides of the ball, Moultrie should improve the Sixers’ rebounding numbers which, depending on various offseason moves, could once again rank in the top 10 in the NBA.

Free-Throw Shooting

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    Last season, only Lou Williams, a free agent, attempted more than four free throws per game during the regular season for the Sixers.

    After Williams, only Iguodala attempted more than three free throws per game.

    For the regular season, the Sixers as a team attempted just 18.2 free throws per game, which ranked last in the NBA.  The Sixers also made the fewest amount of free throws last season, and shot 74.2 percent from the line.

    In his first season since sitting out after transferring to Mississippi State, Moultrie attempted 5.3 free throws per game, while shooting 78 percent.

    Moultrie also made 4.1 free throws per game.

    In his two seasons at UTEP prior to transferring, Moultrie never averaged more than 2.7 attempts per game, and never shot over 66 percent from the line.

    However, last season he was able to lead Mississippi State in both free throws made per game and free throws attempted per game.

    For the Sixers, both Brand and Hawes attempted less than two free throws per game.

    If Moultrie continues his progression with free-throw shooting while in the NBA, he could help the Sixers improve on their free-throw ranking within the league.

    No fan wants to see their team ranked last in an offensive category.

Depth in the Frontcourt

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    With Hawes currently a free agent, the Sixers only have three players who saw regular playing time last season that are at least 6’9”.

    Two of those players, Allen and Nikola Vucevic, are coming off of their rookie seasons, while Brand is set to become a free agent after next season if the Sixers decide not to use their amnesty clause on him.

    Which makes the 6’11” Moultrie’s presence in the frontcourt all the more important.

    If 6’8” Thaddeus Young is used at the four, the Sixers are set to have just four players in their frontcourt after next season, with three of those players currently combining for two years of NBA experience.

    However, if Hawes is re-signed, Moultrie could fit into the Sixers’ plans at the four rather than the five going forward, giving the team some depth past next season.

    The Sixers have a chance to sort out their backcourt this offseason after spending the last few seasons with too many players and not enough minutes.

    A surplus of players in the frontcourt is not an issue.

    However, without Moultrie, it could’ve been a liability.

Assist Opportunities for Backcourt Players

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    Recent NBA champions continue to have solid guard play as well as a dominant power forward or center presence.

    From Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace in 2004, to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010, to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh most recently, a solid guard/post presence duo are seemingly essential for a team’s title chances.

    And while Moultrie isn’t going to put the Sixers over the top in terms of a postseason run, his size and athletic ability will at least give the team’s young backcourt members a post option going forward.

    With both Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner under 24 years old, the Sixers needed another post player who can grow with their young backcourt.

    In Moultrie, they may have found that option.

    Although Allen showed great improvement from the regular season to the postseason, the Sixers do not have a great deal of young talent in their frontcourt, especially at power forward.

    With Moultrie, the Sixers’ young guards could have consistent assist opportunities due to his leaping ability and 7'2.25" wingspan.

    If Hawes doe not return, the Sixers will have little depth in their frontcourt next season, and even less after that.

    Moultrie not only fills this need, but he is also a player who Holiday and Turner can utilize quickly, and who the fans can grow to like quickly, as well.