"I just am looking to bring energy and rebound," said the 22-year-old who had played in just 15 games before Wednesday's 88-69 loss to the Indiana Pacers, in which he went for a career-high 12 points in close to 21 minutes.
The Sixers entered the Indiana game having won four of their last five games. Not coincidentally, coach Doug Collins shuffled his starting lineup just before then, inserting Spencer Hawes and Nick Young. The move put Lavoy Allen on the bench, where he has played very well since. That left Collins with the dilemma of whom to start. He chose Kwame Brown, so Allen could stay comfortable in his bench role. It also allowed the coach to use Moultrie in favorable situations.
In whatever role and for whatever many minutes, Moultrie has to seize the moment. It has been a difficult season for the Mississippi State product as he injured an ankle in his last predraft workout and was shelved for close to 4 months. He was far less than 100 percent for training camp, so he has been behind from the get-go.
But those who have seen him practice everyday and gotten a glimpse of Moultrie when he's healthy believe he's ready to help.
"There's a lot of production that we have to count for now," Hawes said. "Without having Thad in there, I think we all have to pick up our activity level. A lot of times he guarded guys who were scorers on the other end. It's got to be a team effort.
"No one guy can replace what Thad brings. We all have to be more diligent and more efficient and we have to have more guys that maybe weren't getting as much of an opportunity step up now. People don't realize with that ankle injury how much it set [Moultrie] back. That's something that a high ankle sprain is different from an ankle sprain, it's completely different. I think he's finally now getting his stride back, getting his feel back. He brings a lot of elements to this team with his athleticism, his size and rebounding, which can really help us out."
Looking to the future
With the trading deadline on Feb. 21 and a new injury hampering his team, general manager Tony DiLeo could be looking to make some moves to bolster his roster as the Sixers look to climb into the playoff seedings. But don't expect anything major to happen. The eyes of the organization are geared to building for the future, not plugging holes for one season.
"If it will improve the team and not just in the short term, but long term also, then we'll look into things," DiLeo said. "We don't want to jeopardize anything in the short term that will hurt us in the long term. We're looking to build. We're in a good position on one hand because we have flexibility with contracts. But we're in a bad position on the other hand because we just don't have the answers, we haven't seen our team out there yet. It's hard to really plan when you don't have all the answers yet. Hopefully we'll have the answers by the end of the year and we'll move forward in the future."
DiLeo was referring to Andrew Bynum still not having been on the floor with his new team. He added that Bynum is continuing to progress and will return when he feels he's ready. Bynum has targeted his debut shortly after the All-Star break.