This year’s NBA season has just begun, but it is becoming quickly evident what a major factor the Sixers bench will be. Shake Milton continues to prove he belongs in this league and is establishing himself as a 6th man of the year candidate. Tyrese Maxey has impressed greatly in his transition into the NBA, Furkan Korkmaz has taken the next step in his development, and Dwight Howard has repetitively received praise for the energy and leadership he provides the team. However, one player who seems to be forgotten in this rotation is second-year forward, Matisse Thybulle.
In total, Matisse logged 9.1 seconds of game time in the opening night victory against the Wizards. After sitting for 47 minutes, Matisse was subbed in with 42.2 seconds left in the game. With the simple (yet daunting) task of defending Bradley Beal, ‘Tise was looked to use his defensive prowess that has impressed so greatly in his time in the league. In the one play that he was on the court for, Thybulle was called for a foul as he attempted to fight over a screen and made contact with Beal as he ascended for the jumper.
Immediately following this play, Matisse was sent back to the bench and took in the rest of the game from there. In his post-game press conference, Doc Rivers was quick to shoot down the notion that Thybulle is out of the running for playing time, firmly stating that “Matisse will get his chance.” Rivers alluded to the second-year wing missing time in training camp due to an ankle injury possibly holding him back from finding a rhythm. As one has come to expect when it comes to Matisse, Doc also praised his eagerness to support the team, positivity, and overall body language on the bench.
It is crazy to think just a few months ago Matisse was viewed as a cornerstone piece for this team. In his rookie season, ‘Tise played 19.8 minutes per game and averaged 4.7 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.4 steals. He stands at 6’5 with a 6’11 wingspan and uses his long-arms to be active in passing lanes. Matisse proved the greatest area of his game to be on the defensive end and even showed the stones to match-up with Jayson Tatum in the playoffs last year.
This decrease in playing time has certainly been warranted. In the preseason game against the Celtics, Matisse played 10 minutes scoring 0 points on 0-1 shooting from the field and recorded 1 rebound and 0 assists. In the matchup against the Pacers, he played 14 minutes registering 1 point, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and had 0 shot attempts from the field. The impressive cutting ability he showed last season has not carried over and Thybulle has looked tentative and skittish on the offensive end.
In the short-term, the biggest focus should be on getting Matisse to play to the best of his ability. There is still a need for the role he can play as a defensive stopper as the Sixers lack quality wing defenders behind Ben Simmons. That being said, Matisse has to show signs of life on the offensive end in order to be playable in the regular rotation. If he can find a rhythm in his jump shot and make use of his cutting ability, Thybulle could begin to see his minutes grow but for the time being, he will likely continue to spend most of his time on the pine.
As far as the long-term potential, there has been a serious hit to the future of Matisse’s outlook on the team. If Rivers and Daryl Morey believe he will find a role within the team and that he is just shaking off the rust that the injury brought on, Thybulle will continue to be developed. However, his value is unlikely to go anywhere but down given his lack of playing time, and don’t be surprised if Matisse is a name that begins to be floated out there when the trade deadline approaches.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
Lead Sixers Writer for Philly Sports Network and Co-host of the Pick Swap Podcast. Trust the Process
Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod