Exactly when Andrew Bynum finally plays is not the only great mystery of this 2012-13 Sixers season.
Arnett Moultrie, the 6-10, 245-pound rookie, has also been an unknown to this point. However, now we may finally find out what Moultrie can do as an NBA player.
To this moment in the season, Moultrie’s playing time has come in teaspoonfuls. He has 15 appearances in the Sixers' 47 games and a total of just 83 minutes.
It’s not as if the Sixers didn’t need him, with Bynum yet to play a single second and -- until recently, anyway -- the team’s big-man rotation in a state of flux. But Moultrie was hurt by a slow start to the season and troubled by a summertime ankle injury, which equaled a bigger learning curve. The Sixers even sent him down to the NBA’s developmental league, though his production there was noticeably unspectacular.
Then, with 5:46 left in the second quarter on Monday against Orlando, the urgency to see what Moultrie can do suddenly increased. That’s when the energetic Thaddeus Young went skidding out of bounds in front of the Sixers' bench after a loose ball, straining his left hamstring in the process. The diagnosis, an estimated three weeks of rest and rehab for the Sixers' starting power forward, subsequently opened up 35 minutes of nightly playing time for somebody or some bodies.
The best guess is that Lavoy Allen will soak up many of those minutes as a starter. Allen started Monday's second half, looking more like the guy who refused to concede to Kevin Garnett’s shtick during last year’s playoffs. Moultrie got some minutes, too, and seemed to ready to play, hitting a jumper without hesitation, defending, hitting the glass and even blocking a shot. Afterward, he earned a positive response from head coach Doug Collins.
The Sixers thought enough about Moultrie to spend a future first-round pick on him during last summer’s draft. Selected at 27 by Miami, Moultrie spent two years at Texas El Paso before transferring to Mississippi State, where he proceeded to lead the Southeastern Conference in rebounding. He even displayed a noticeable face-up game there, including the occasional college three.
The timing of Young’s injury is such that the All-Star break will eat away at one of the presumed three weeks. That still leaves a handful of games for Moultrie to play important minutes and show that he belongs.
Wouldn’t it be nice for the Sixers if Moultrie plays well, and before the end of the month, Bynum makes his Sixers debut? Add that with the return of last year’s Allen and it could allow Young to take whatever time he needs to come back from his hamstring injury.