One-way players have a funny way of falling out of playoff rotations in the NBA. That’s a lesson that Philadelphia 76ers defensive stopper Matisse Thybulle learned quickly this postseason. His vaccination status didn’t help as he went from regular-season starter to part-time bench player.
Thybulle averaged 25.5 minutes per game in 50 starts prior to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. His minutes dipped to 15.2 per night during nine playoff contests against Toronto and Miami. Some of it was a self-imposed exile after refusing to get vaccinated. Not all of it, though.
The Sixers needed reliable shooters and Thybulle’s jumper remains a work in progress. If he can turn into a consistent three-point threat, then the 2019 first-rounder is going to be hard to take off the court. It’s something the organization has instructed him to do this summer.
“He’s putting in the work. It’s gradual,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s called being patient and we are. I think it makes us more patient because he works at it. We would be less patient if we didn’t think he was working at it. There were improvements. He became a better cutter, he ran the floor better, the next step is for him to improve his shot. That’s his marching orders for the summer.”
Sixers president Daryl Morey remains incredibly high on Thybulle. Remember, he was a sticking point in many of the Ben Simmons’ trade proposals. Morey went out of his way to make Thybulle off-limits, especially in the one that landed them James Harden.
“Elite defensive component,” Morey said of Thybulle. “He’s looking at himself like, how can I improve and contribute in other ways? I think for Matisse his mission, which he knows, is how can he improve in ways that makes him someone who can make more of an impact in the playoffs and I think he will in the future.”
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Sixers!
Thybulle Outlines 3 Specific Areas for Improvement
Thybulle isn’t numb to what he needs to do this summer. The 25-year-old wing wants to earn everyone’s trust by being a more complete player. He highlighted three specific areas where he needs to improve: three-point shooting, getting out in transition, and attacking defenders off the dribble.
“I guess for me I’m lucky because it’s pretty simple,” Thybulle said. “I have something I do very well and it helps me bring value to the game but outside of that if I can be a consistent three-point shooter, an effective fast-break player, and an efficient straight-line driver to the basket, I think without trying to put more on my plate that is necessary, I think that feels like the simplest approach to just lay a foundation, being more of an asset on the other end of the court.”
When asked if he would do things differently regarding his vaccination stance – Thybulle got one dose, then forego a second one in favor of holistic medicine – the third-year player said no. That decision caused him to miss three games in Toronto.
“There’s nothing that I would change in my life,” Thybulle said. “Everything that I’ve done has made me who I am and, for better or worse, I’m happy with that.”
Bleacher Report Sends Thybulle to Sacramento
Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz recently compiled a mock trade idea for every team in the NBA. He proposed one sending Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Justin Holiday, Alex Len, plus two second-round picks. The Kings own two selections in 2022 from a previous trade with Chicago.
Swartz wrote: “If the Sixers don’t feel they can pay him (especially with big contracts already owed to Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris and James Harden and Tyrese Maxey needing to be paid soon as well), they should try and trade Thybulle now with one year left on his rookie deal.”