Why Sixers’ Matisse Thybulle needs to end preseason on a high note

Lou Williams
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Matisse Thybulle (22) defends Los Angeles Clippers Guard Lou Williams (23) during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Sixers G/F Matisse Thybulle only saw 10 minutes of action against Boston.

The Sixers first preseason game was everything that Doc Rivers could’ve asked for, and then some. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris all played well, the bench saw some elite-level production from the likes of Shake Milton and Dwight Howard, and first-round rookie Tyrese Maxey exploded onto the scene with 10 points in just 12 minutes.

It was a resounding “success” for this new-look Sixers. Fans left the experience excited, and the national media was even taking notice of how good the team looked.

However, there was one small mishap. Last year’s first-round selection – Matisse Thybulle – barely played. The defensive-minded wing logged just 10 minutes, and only shot the ball once. He looked relatively lost during his small bit of game time, and it was hard to ignore the fact that guys like Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Scott came off the bench before him.

However, it is worth noting he was dealing with a left ankle sprain in the run up to the game, so they may well just be monitoring his minutes and keeping the load light. That doesn’t mean that what we saw in that preseason opener doesn’t open an interesting discussion and one that could only grow in significance if other players shine in his absence.

During a media season, head coach Doc Rivers said that he had a “good sense” of what his bench unit will look like come Opening Night, highlighting that he already knows who his first four bench players will be. Based off the Sixers first preseason game, it looks like Howard, Milton, and Korkmaz are locked into the first three spots – leaving that fourth and final role up in the air.

Mike Scott saw 14 minutes against Boston, so it could very well be him who owns that fourth bench spot. He has value as a backup PF behind Harris, and he’s a noticeably better shooter than someone like Thybulle.

Additionally, if Maxey keeps playing the way he did against the Celtics, it’s hard to imagine him not pushing for a more permanent role off the bench. Many viewed Maxey as a lottery level talent, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him earn more playing time as the season progresses.

That kind of leaves Thybulle in a bit of a limbo. He’s obviously a fantastic defender, but his offensive ability leaves a little to be desired. While his upside is undoubtedly higher than someone like Korkmaz or Scott, their ability to space the floor and knock down threes is fairly important considering Embiid’s and Simmons’ play styles.

We’re only a game deep into the preseason, so things could obviously change regarding Thybulle’s playing time. He’s still a fantastic prospect who’s oozing potential, and it’d make sense for Doc Rivers to give him an opportunity to shine this year. With that said, if Thybulle is buried behind Milton, Korkmaz, Scott, and potentially Maxey in the depth chart – I wouldn’t rule out a trade away from Philadelphia come the deadline.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire