The Sixers still have eight regular season games and an entire postseason to play before worrying about 2021, but there’s likely already conversations being had in the organization regarding what the team will look like next year.
Will Al Horford still be on the roster? Should Shake Milton start? Is Tobias Harris a small forward or a power forward? Could Josh Richardson be on the trade block?
These are all legitimate questions that need to be asked this offseason, and questions that have already begun to be discussed amongst fans. However, one topic that has yet to garner any sort of serious debate is that of Matisse Thybulle’s role in 2021.
Thybulle was the 76ers’ lone first-round selection in the 2019 draft, and the team made it very clear how much they liked him as a player. Elton Brand traded picks No. 24 and No. 33 (to the Boston Celtics of all teams), to move up four spots. The Sixers selected Thybulle at No. 20 while the Celtics ended up snagging Edwars with that No. 33 pick (a player the Sixers reportedly had interest in).
Thybulle has had a very impressive rookie season to say the least. One of the few bright spots on the Sixers roster, the former Washington small forward has already established himself as one of the best young defenders in the NBA. Thybulle ranks towards the top of the entire NBA in both steals per 36 and total deflections per game.
While Thybulle is electric on the defensive side of things, he’s by no means a perfect player. He’s still pretty raw offensively, and has experienced some wicked shooting slumps (25 3P% in March and 22.2 3P% in January).
On one side of the debate, Thybulle is the perfect type of player to pair up next to Ben Simmons due to his high-motor and defensive capabilities. On the other side, his lack of an elite jumpshot can occasionally congest the offense.
A top 20 pick who has received high praise during his first season, common sense seems to dictate that Thybulle will find himself a permanent starter in 2021. However, with the emergence of a sharpshooting Shake Milton, and rumors of a Buddy Heild trade package floating around, there’s a chance there simply isn’t a spot for Thybulle to take.
While he’s struggled at times, Josh Richardson by all intents and purposes is still the starting SG on paper headed into next season. Between Milton, Richardson, and whoever else the team adds in free agency/the draft, where’s the space for Matisse to get more minutes?
It’s an interesting debate to be had, because while Thybulle has definitely overachieved this year, he might not yet be “starter quality” on a team that has championship aspirations. With an action packed offseason looming, it’s surely worth keeping your eye on how Elton Brand and the 76ers move forward with Thybulle.
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