As time marches on past Memorial Day and nears June, it is time once again to begin writing this years version of my NBA draft profilesfor Pacersdigest. Though the actual writing is beginning today, the evaluationsstarted for me back in March, right after my own high school coaching season ended. As always, these previews will be based on actual game tape and film,obviously I have seen none of these players in person, nor have I interviewedthem or been to any of their workouts…..I am basing everything on video that Imyself have watched.
Like always, I am concentrating only on players that I feelhave a realistic chance of being Pacers, therefore you will see no preview ofAnthony Davis on here. Nor was I able at this point to obtain any film ofanyone playing overseas, though I am still working on one European prospectstape availability. With the Pacers currently picking at #26, I tried to earlyon focus on players I feel either will be chosen around that selection, onplayers who I feel SHOULD be chosen around there, or who perhaps are within range of a potential trade up scenario if the Pacers should choose to do so.
For those of you new to my scouting reports, you can read mypre draft previews of several current Pacers elsewhere on this site in the archives, including Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, Darren Collison, and PaulGeorge. You can judge for yourself what type of trust to put into my tape analysis.
With all of that being said, my first draft preview of 2012 is of the athletic power forward from Mississippi State, Arnett Moultrie.
Moultrie is an athletic 4 man with nimble feet, and has thesize to someday I think play both the 4 and 5 spots in the NBA. He measuressomewhere around 6’11, and while skinny still should weigh in at around 235LBS.He definitely needs to add some strength to be able to play a traditional 5spot, as he would struggle to hold his ground against the few remaininglegitimate centers left in the NBA, but for most matchups from a size point ofview he should be fine.
Moultrie is a junior who is already 21 years old, he will turn 22 in November near the third week of theNBA season. He has been in college 4 years, as he began his career at theUniversity of Texas El Paso before transferring to the SEC playing Bulldogs.While sometimes kids who transfer colleges can be a red flag, keep in mind thatour own Danny Granger followed a similar career path in a similar area of thecountry (Bradley to New Mexico), so that to me should not be a factor in his evaluation.
From merely an athletic point of view, Moultrie is fun to watch. He runs the floor effortlessly, with his long strides covering a ton of ground. He should excel in the NBA as a “rim runner”on an up tempo team, as he can when so inclined beat his own man down the floor. I am going to guess that in the individual workouts that are nobeginning, that Moultrie would impress people in sprints and in footwork typedrills that teams put him through without a basketball. Moultrie moves withgood balance and fluidity, and in general passes the eye test with flying colors just from watching him move around. If picked by Indiana, heautomatically becomes our best big man athlete, and it wouldn’t even be close.
This athleticism also helps him as a rebounder, where Moultrie excels. He goes harder to the offensive glass than he does the defensive glass ,as he definitely smells an opportunity to score if he can get a putback opportunity. He averaged just under 11 rebounds per game for Mississippi State, which is animpressive number no matter how he may have gotten them. He is very much afinesse rebounder, as he is not a guy who blocks out others really, instead hekind of floats in and out of creases in the lane and pursues the ball well. Heis light on his feet and often the first man in the air, always a good sign fora young big man. He also is good at tipping balls to himself to get them on thesecond hop, something that again shows his good balance. I would also say he isone of the best rebounders in this class at getting balls outside of his area,showing great “range” of rebounding.
Sadly though, because he doesn’tblock out or play particularly physically, sometimes he will struggle to getrebounds in big spots, or in major traffic. When others are able to put a bodyon him he doesn’t like that at all, and often will just give up on the play ifhe himself is checked out physically. In other words, he is very much a finessetype rebounder, who relies on athleticism and pursuit of the ball more thantechnique and strength. I don’t consider him a monster rebounder at the nextlevel, but he should be able to very much hold his own. I just don’t know thatI see that kind of nasty or tough streak you’d get out of an elite NBA level rebounding big man.
Offensively he is a big man who can score a little, but isn’ta true “plant your flag” type scorer with his back to the basket. He is more of a guy who needs to catch the ball on the move, which on the right team will begood enough for him to contribute early on as a ballscreening/roll to baskettype guy. He definitely to me is betterwhen he catches the ball facing the basket, instead of catching with his backto the rim. As a guy who grew fairly late, he definitely shows the typical tendencies of guys who fit that profile, who played out on the perimeter early in their development.
Again, his balance is outstanding offensively, and he is able to catch the ball on the move in traffic and do something with it. But one thing you will likely NOT see him do is pass it, as Moultrie very much has tunnel vision in scoring chances….he gets it inside, likely it is going up. Still that isn’t all bad, as he is a big guy who can finish with either hand inside, and actually might be a bit better with his left hand than the majority of NBA bigs right now.
With his back to the basket his game is raw. He does a poor job of establishing and keeping low post position and is rather easily pushed out off his spot. I think he does a bad job also of “feeling” the defender withhis rear end, therefore he is forced to guess sometimes what move to make, and often he gets himself in a tougher situation than he should be. He is far too upright in the low post, and that makes him lose valuable real estate inside…..whatshould be a simple drop step move ends up having to be a much more difficultshot for him simply because he is too upright before he gets thebasketball. Still, his athleticism andtalent means he makes a higher percentage of those shots than you’d think, so it isn’t without hope that he can continue to develop as a low post scorer inside as time goes on.
He will need to score, becausehis passing right now is poor out of the post, as he seems to either not see the floor or is just unwilling to throw it out. Of course, some of that couldhave been the lack of talent around him at Mississippi State, or it could havebeen scheme related, but for now I’d rate Moultrie as a below average passerout of the post.
I am sad to report that Moultrie is an absolute atrociousdefender away from the ball as a helper. More than anyone that I have studiedthese last 4 years, Moultrie “hugs” his man away from the ball and simply doesn’tsee or recognize what is happening around him. He is extremely man oriented, amajor defensive flaw. This flaw is part of the reason why his reboundingnumbers are inflated somewhat, as he never leaves a rebound opportunity toactually play help defense. While hisown man may not score a ton, your team defense will be poor with Moultrie inthe game playing the way he does now.
As athletic and quick on his feet as Moultrie is to averageas few of shot blocks and alter as few of shots as he does is a majorindictment of him in my view. In my opinion this is not necessarily an effort thing, but it is a selfishness thing…..we call this selfish defense where I come from, and it will have to change for Moultrie to stick in the league. Heplays extremely close to his man and very flat on his man, essentially leavinghis perimeter defending teammates on an island to prevent drives on their own. He just seems uninterested in blocking shotsor even contesting them on players other than his own man. Most big guys loveto block shots to their own detriment, but Moultrie seems content to stay onthe ground and not exert the sweat needed to jump to the ball and get in help. It isn’t necessarily lack of hustle, but it is a gigantic lack of awareness that is troubling.
Having said that, it isn’t all bad defensively. On the perimeter he guards the ball screenvery well. He has the quickness and balance to hedge very hard and stillrecover to his man, and his length and athleticism really help out here in thissituation. He will be able to trap ballscreens, something really none of ourcurrent bigs can do or are asked to do. And if he does create a deflection orturnover, he will be an asset running the floor in transition.
And on the ball itself, whether it is in the low post or on the perimeter, Moultrie can hold his own. Inside he shows better effort on his own guy, and he has the dance stepsdown to be an effective defender either in a total front situation or onplaying a guy straight up. While some of the very powerful players will be ableto back him down, 95% of NBA guys will not be able to do so, and his better than average feet will let him slide and contest a shot pretty well.
I do believe that he will be an interesting guy to possibly guard perimeter type 4 men, which we really don’t have on our roster. He wont be worth much in help, but against these ballhandling or shooting stretch 4guys, he will be athletic enough I think to guard them on the floor in spurts.
So, you can basically say that defensively for Moultrie it is a mixed bag of potential and skill with one gigantic major flaw……but flawed guys are what you typically get at pick #26. The thing that will either make or break his career will be his capacity to improve his weaknesses at the next level.
Admittedly, that worries me about Moultrie. I tend to prefer big guys with a higher revving motor thatMoultrie has, whose effort on tape seems to ebb and flow from possession to possession. Now part of this may have been fatigue and him pacing himself (Moultrie played almost 36 minutes a game for the Bulldogs), but it also may bethat he doesn’t always concentrate and play his guts out for his teammates andcoaches. This conundrum is why the interview and personality tests that these guys will go through for each team will be so critical, as it will be important to find out just what exactly it is that makes Moultrie tick.
It is a very tough call for Indiana on Arnett Moultrie, inmy view. If he is there for us at 26, his upside and athleticism would be adefinite upgrade for our current rather unathletic back up big guys. However,his inconsistent motor and one major defensive flaw make him a risky choice, orat least as risky as a draft pick can be at this point in the draft.
If you trust your coaches to develop him, and if you trust your culture of accountability and toughness that we have to improve him, thenI think the risk is worth taking him here…..but of course that depends on whoelse may be available……and we will get into other potential choices to comparehim to as this series continues from now until draft day.
Moultrie could of course be long gone by 26. Houston at #14 or #16 is in play for him I think, as are the Celtics at #21 or #22. ……my best guess is that Moultrie is wearing Celtics colors on draft night, but we will see what happens as the draft gets nearer.
CURRENT NBA COMPARABLE: A poor man's JASON THOMPSON
FORMER NBA COMPARABLE: A rich man's ACIE EARL
As always, the above is just my opinion