Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle has to be in the playoff rotation

The Philadelphia 76ers need to find playoff minutes for Thybulle.

The NBA is back and every single fan of the Philadelphia 76ers has one question and one question alone: Who will earn a spot in Brett Brown‘s playoff rotation?

Now sure, it is technically a tad rash to turn one’s eye to the postseason when the relaunched NBA season is less than a week old, but the Sixers are already a lock to make the playoffs regardless of how these final eight games shake out, so… yeah.

While one could debate ad nauseam over which seed the 76ers should be vying for, as some want the Celtics and others would prefer an all-out blitz for the four seed, it doesn’t really matter where the team ends up if they lose in the first round, right? And what, you may ask, could help the Sixers make a deep playoff run? That’s right, an ironclad playoff rotation.

And with the playoffs seven games away and counting, it’s clear the Sixers actually have some intriguing options at Coach Brown’s disposal.

With Al Horford now relegated to coming off the bench both in relief of Joel Embiid and alongside him, the Sixers have to supplement their still-massive starting five with a few smaller guards/wings to pair up with Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Embiid in what may only be an eight-man rotation.

But who will those other three, um, be? Is Furkan Korkmaz still locked in as the team’s de facto sixth man? Is Mike Scott… alive? And what about the Sixers’ midseason trade acquisitions Glen Robinson III and Alec Burks? Surely Elton Brand wouldn’t have surrendered three future second-round picks for a pair of players stuck on the bench when it actually matters.

However, one player who doesn’t – or shouldn’t at least – need to worry about his playoff spot has to be Matisse Thybulle.

Despite only being a rookie, albeit a 23-year-old rookie, Thybulle is already the 76ers’ best backcourt defender, with a freakish ability to cover pretty much any player on the court, including some centers. Thybulle is a stout man defender with a massive 7-foot wingspan and a pickpocket’s mentality. His 1.4 steals per game is tied for 17th in the league with a half dozen other players, and his 0.75 Defensive Real Plus-Minus ranks 22nd among all eligible shooting guards.

Is Thybulle a knockdown 3 point shooter? No, offense as a whole is easily the weakest aspect of Thybulle’s game but he’s still averaging 4.7 points on 4.1 shots per game while knocking down a league-average 35 percent of his 2.5 3s per game.

Frankly, if the 76ers’ dudley first-half performance against the Indiana Pacers is of any indication, giving minutes to an ego-less defender uninterested in being more than a unit’s fifth offensive option may actually be a good thing.

Next: How the heck did the Philadelphia 76ers not trade for T.J. Warren?

Matisse Thybulle isn’t the kind of player who can take over a game and pull out a win down 20 but he is capable of holding an opposing guard scoreless during the final minutes of regulation to secure a tight, must-win victory. For a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who already have shooters, ball handlers, and rim protectors, keeping a top-tier defensive guard in the mix during his first taste of playoff basketball is just good business, especially if they view Thybulle as a long-term starter down the line.

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