Rookies Maalik Wayns, Arnett Moutrie impressing Sixers

Posted: October 07, 2012

Just the other day, 76ers coach Doug Collins and associate head coach Michael Curry were having a conversation about team depth.

It's always a good conversation to have - especially if you have depth - when preparing for another season. However, for the Sixers, the good news is that the conversation wasn't about the top eight spots as they see it. Instead, Curry and Collins were talking about players nine through 14.

Specifically, they were discussing what they had seen out of the two rookies in camp, 6-foot-2 guard Maalik Wayns and 6-10 power forward Arnett Moultrie.

The Sixers signed Wayns, by way of Villanova and Roman Catholic High School, after an impressive showing in the Orlando Pro Summer League. They acquired Moultrie, a junior out of Mississippi State selected by Miami with the 27 pick in the draft, in exchange for the draft rights of Justin Hamilton (45th overall pick) and a protected future first-round pick.

Both players know that they are on the outside looking in in terms of being in the rotation. But this does not mean that Collins wants them idly standing by and waiting for a shot that is way down the road.

To that end, both are playing key roles in scrimmages. Wayns has been working alongside Royal Ivey, where Collins has him pushing the ball at his starters in an effort to make them work harder at the defensive end.

A natural point guard, Wayns was forced to be more of a scorer at Villanova, where he averaged 17.6 points per game.

He has become surprisingly comfortable very quickly, something he attributes to being allowed to play the point.

"Whatever my coach needs me to do I'm going to do," Wayns said. "Last year they needed me to score so that's what I did. We weren't that successful doing it, but now I get to get back to my roots and the way I play. Now I can just be comfortable and play my game."

Moultrie is just rounding into shape following a summer that was by no means as productive as he or the Sixers would have wanted. A high left ankle sprain suffered before the draft that was supposed to heal in 4-6 weeks took almost three months to mend.

As a result, Moultrie, who played in college at around 230 pounds, saw his weight get close to 250 pounds. While he is not 100 percent by his own admission, Moultrie has shed about 10 pounds and now reports his weight at 240.

"That feels comfortable for me," Moultrie said. "I feel I can bang. I'm a physical player. I want to stay at 240 so I can bang around in the paint. I don't want to get pushed around down there."

Moultrie has run the floor well. When he is tired he sometimes favors his ankle. So far, however, Collins is happy with what he has seen.

"I didn't expect him to be this far along after missing all summer and he's still not 100 percent," Collins said. "He's big, he's strong, he can rebound the ball and he's got a great feel for the game. He's played very, very well."

While both Wayns and Moultrie are solidly out of the top nine of the rotation, Collins is delighted to know that they are transitioning smoothly into their roles.

"They are both having strong camps so far," he said. "Those guys can get in there and play and that's a nice feeling to have in case you have injuries."


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer

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