Disappointing rookie season motivates Sixers' Moultrie

Philadelphia 76ers' Arnett Moultrie. (John Raoux/AP)
Philadelphia 76ers' Arnett Moultrie. (John Raoux/AP)
Posted: July 07, 2013

ORLANDO - Last season was not the rookie experience that 76ers power forward Arnett Moultrie had hoped for.

Injuring his ankle during a predraft workout in Sacramento kept him out of the 2012 Orlando Pro Summer League. Still hampered by the injury in training camp, he wasn't in shape at the start of the season. Then, in December, he was sent down to the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Developmental League for seven games.

While Moultrie certainly isn't happy about the first impression he left, that experience is part of what is driving the 22-year-old as he prepares for a second chance to get his career going in the right direction.

"It definitely just motivated me to stay in the gym and keep bettering myself," Moultrie said. "So when the time comes next season, I can show Philadelphia what I bring to the Sixers."

The 6-foot-10, 245-pounder looks to give Sixers fans a sneak peek of what they can expect in the summer league. The 10-team tournament, featuring mostly rookies and second-year players, runs Sunday through July 12 at the Amway Center practice court.

"Hopefully I will have a good summer league," Moultrie said, "and then I'll just get back to work after the summer league."

Moultrie was the 27th overall pick last summer by Miami. The Heat traded him on draft night to the Sixers for the 45th pick and a future first-rounder. At the time, the Sixers viewed the deal as one of the steals of the draft. They had Moultrie rated higher than post players Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Perry Jones, and Andrew Nicholson. They were all selected among the top 20 picks last June.

But the former Mississippi State standout played in just 47 of the 82 regular-season games. For the most part, his game action was nothing more than cameo appearances. He averaged 3.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 11.5 minutes per game.

"It was tough," Moultrie said. "But I learned from it. It was helpful. I will just use it for the future."

He learned that you can't come into the NBA with high hopes.

"You never know what's going to happen," Moultrie said. "You got to come in and just do what you do on the basketball court. Other than that, you can't choose."

Even though he started to regain his form in February, Moultrie realizes that the injury and subpar playing shape early on had a role in his lack of playing time.

That's why he worked out every day for the last three weeks with the Sixers coaches at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"He wants to be good, and he wants to play," said 76ers assistant coach Michael Curry, who is running the summer-league team. "So he realizes that you have to put the work in first to earn your way out there on the court. And when you get there, if you perform there you will stay."

That's exactly what Moultrie hopes to do.

"I'm going to play hard each night, play with a lot of energy," he said. "I'm going to do the right things to help us win as many games as possible."

Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers.

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