There are wake-up calls and there is the last couple of weeks Arnett Moultrie spent playing for the Sixers D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D. Through it all, Moultrie learned one thing:
He never wants to go back to Sioux Falls.
No, this is not to disparage the fine city of Sioux Falls or its citizens. That part of it was great, according to Moultrie. However, if the Sixers rookie first-round pick ever lands back in South Dakota or the D-League again, then something has gone very wrong.
You can say it was a dose of reality, Moultrie said. It wasnt too bad for the most part. Its not a place I want to be again and Ill use that as motivation.
Nevertheless, the short stint playing for the SkyForce was beneficial for Moultrie. The key word in that sentence is: playing. While with the Sixers, Moultrie didnt get much of a chance to play. Given that the rookie missed a significant stretch of development during the summer with a sprained ankle, he wasnt able to get into proper shape before training camp. Then, once training camp got into full swing, Moultrie was playing catch up. Without regular playing time, he couldnt work himself back into shape.
Essentially, Moultrie was flying around the country with the Sixers where he got to stay in nice hotels and watch the games from the bench. Not bad, but not exactly helpful either.
He had some good moments and he had some ones where he struggled, coach Doug Collins said. I think the thing with him is continued conditioning and energy and tenacity. Hes playing a blue-collar position and it isnt always pretty. You have to throw yourself around and rebound the ball. He should run the floor hunger he should be hungry.
However, with nine games with the SkyForce, Moultrie got to work off some of the rust. He got to play 26 minutes per night where he scored 9.7 points with 6.1 rebounds per game. In two of his last three games, Moultrie had double-doubles. He even notched 18 points in 32 minutes on just 12 shots on Dec. 28.
More importantly, Moultrie says he was able to get into some semblance of game shape. Its one thing to work out during practice and to stay fit, but being in game shape is a different animal. Even playing in the D-League, Moultrie admits to being winded, but he was able to work on that.
It was a learning experience. No matter how much conditioning I do, its still not game-shape. I went down there and just tried to play hard and took the opportunity to get into shape, Moultrie said.
I feel good. I want to come in and when I get a chance to get rebounds and be dominant in the paint.
And thats exactly what Collins wants from Moultrie, too. No, he doesnt have to come back and start posting double-doubles. But if he can set some screens and grab some boards, that will be enough.
The unfortunate thing is a lot of times with young guys is that they equate playing time with scoring and everyone cant score, Collins said. Who is going to do the little things like set the hard screens, rebound the ball, get you multiple possessions? I think Arnett, when he embraces that, will be that type of player.
Moultries return marked the end Maalik Wayns run with the Sixers. The Philadelphia native and Roman Catholic and Villanova alum was officially waived on Sunday, one day before non-guaranteed contracts would become guaranteed for the rest of the season.
If Wayns clears waivers, the Sixers could bring him back on a series of 10-day contracts. However, with that extra wiggle room, the Sixers could be shopping for another backup point guard.
Considering that backup point guard Royal Ivey is not 100 percent recovered from a groin injury, the Sixers are desperate for help in the backcourt.
Maalik was brought in to be our third point guard and with Royal Ivey being hurt, we need to find another guy who might have more experience who can play pick-and-roll and do some things for us when Jrue is off the floor, Collins said. We really take a hit now because we dont have the personnel to do it with that other unit.
Wayns struggled on defense, specifically in guarding against the pick-and-roll. He also shot just 24 percent from the field during his stint with the Sixers and wasnt quite the facilitator the team hoped hed be, either.
Still, Wayns showed a lot of potential, specifically during training camp. During the exhibition season, Wayns was the most pleasant surprise on the team and turned a few heads around the league.
I think he has a lot support from us. I think most of the team talked to him and texted him, starting point guard Jrue Holiday said. Obviously hes like a little brother to me and Im pushing for him. If anything, Im talking him up. I know how good he can be.
Without Wayns, the Sixers will need Ivey to contribute. Collins says the veteran guard had a good practice before last Fridays game in Oklahoma City, but when it came time to play in the game, his injury gave him some trouble and he couldnt get into the game.
Yet until the Sixers can make a move for another point guard, Ivey will have to give the team some minutes.
The thing about it is I have eight guys and Ivey becomes the ninth guy, Collins said. He might need to ride the exercise bike so when he comes in hes warm. The key to his game is his speed and energy and the mobility he brings. If hes a half-step slow he loses his effectiveness.
Veteran center Kwame Brown was not at practice on Monday to tend to a family matter. Collins said he was unsure if Brown would be back with the team for Tuesday nights game against Brooklyn at the Wells Fargo Center.
E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com