Harkless and Moultrie: Meet the Newest Sixers

The Sixers selected Maurice Harkless (4) with the 15th pick and traded for the draft rights to the 27th overall pick, Arnett Moultrie (1).

The NBA draft serves as the chance that every team has to add a piece or two to the puzzle. Some teams go into the night bent on adding the most talented player on the board regardless of position. Others look to fill a specific need in hopes of taking the next step. The Philadelphia 76ers entered the night with three picks and came away with two pieces to add to the puzzle, Maurice Harkless and Arnett Moultrie.

The Sixers outperformed expectations last season. The team took the Boston Celtics to Game 7 of the second round and came within a win of the Eastern Conference Finals. Going into draft night, every expert and fan seemed convinced that big man was the overwhelming need for the Sixers and when it was their turn to select at number 15, there was no shortage of them.

Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones III, Jared Sullinger, Arnett Moultire, and my projected pick, Terrence Jones, were all available when it was time for the Sixers to select. Let’s just say, after David Stern read the Sixers pick, they were all still seated. That is because the team decided to drop a jaw or two by selecting Maurice Harkless out of St. John’s. There seemed to be a simultaneous sigh across the Philadelphia area as the name was read. People wondered if Harkless was more of what the Sixers already have. He is just under 6’9, 207  pounds. He is a legitimate small forward that played out of position as a power forward in college. He averaged 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman.

The immediate questions were, “don’t we already have a few guys just like him (Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner)?” and “are we finally trading Iguodala?”

To answer the first one, yes, the Sixers have similar players on the team. Harkless is an athletic wing who does not have a particularly deadly jump shot. However, he is very aggressive when it comes to getting to the rim, something that the Sixers wings at times abandon in favor of ill-advised jumpers. Perhaps Harkless’  ability to drive will influence his new teammates, or force them to the bench.

Maurice Harkless played one season for St. John’s and will add more athleticism to the Sixers’ wing.

Harkless is also young. At 19, there is a chance that he is still growing and perhaps can mold into a two position player in the NBA.

Does this mean Iguodala is done in Philly? We’ll have to wait and see. Iguodala’s Main Line mansion did recently sell but let’s not read into that too much. Head Coach Doug Collins addressed the media and made it clear that Harkless’ selection did not in any way mean that Iguodala’s Philly days were numbered. The Sixers seemed to want to add talent and they are high on Harkless’ upside.

As Sixers fans were trying to make sense of the team’s selection, the team was wheeling and dealing in the war room. They pulled off a deal using a second round selection and a future first rounder to acquire the Miami Heat’s first round selection, Arnett Moultrie.

Arnett Moultrie will look to bolster the Sixers’ inside presence on both ends of the floor.

Moultrie seems to fit the mold of what Sixers fans were looking for and expecting. He is a 6’11, 233 pound power forward who is like no other player on the Sixers roster. His height and rebounding prowess (10.5 per game) will allow him to make an immediate impact for the Sixers who were led in rebounding last season by Evan Turner. Moultrie is also a good shot blocker with great leaping ability who can play both power forward and center. He shot 78 percent from the free throw line and 44 percent from downtown last season for Mississippi State.

Collins believes that Moultrie should be upset that he fell to 27 and expects him to use that as fuel during his NBA career. Expect Collins to give Moultrie a chance to prove people wrong, right away.

With two new rookies in, the Sixers will now get set for free agency which begins tonight at midnight. The team will have to answer questions regarding whether or not they will bring back Lou Williams and Spencer Hawes. They also opted to not extend a qualifying offer to Jodie Meeks, making him an unrestricted free agent.

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