Philadelphia 76ers: Don’t give up on Matisse Thybulle just yet

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers still have reasons to believe in Thybulle.

It’s really hard to only score one point in an NBA game.

Sure, you can score zero points, zero points is easy, but one? Now that’s hard. Outside of being selected as a team’s shooter on a single foul shot, or missing one of two – or two of three – on a traditional trip to the line, there are only so many ways for a player to score a single point in an NBA game.

Matisse Thybulle accomplished that ‘feat’ in the Philadelphia 76ers‘ preseason debut against the Indiana Pacers.

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Now granted, this isn’t the first time the only former Washington Huskies guard worthy of note in franchise history recorded less than two points in his NBA career, as Thybulle had 14 games with zero points in 2019-20, but when he followed it up with a good ole’ fashion goose egg in the team’s final preseason bout of the year versus those dastardly Boston Celtics, it left many a fan scratching their heads.

“Could Matisse Thybulle be bad? Is he the odd man out of Doc Rivers‘ regular season rotation? Oh gosh, please tell me it isn’t his new, braided hairdo?”

Woah, woah, woah, cool your jets, my friends. Yes, Thybulle experienced an abnormally quiet preseason playing much further down the bench than where Brett Brown had him positioned in 2019-20. But is that really an indictment of Thybulle’s playing style or simply a byproduct of, ya know, preseason basketball?

I mean think about it, when will you ever see a Sixers game this fall, winter, or spring, where Dakota Mathias plays at all more minutes than Thybulle, let alone Isaiah Joe and Vincent Poirier? Maybe on the rare occasion, but not all that frequently. How about games where the Sixers completely clean their bench and get everyone into the action? Yeah, considering Zhaire Smith only appeared in seven games for the Sixers last season, it’s pretty safe to say the number isn’t even in double-digits.

While I wouldn’t totally take the onus off of Thybulle for his lack of aggressiveness, or seeming indifference to actually putting up a shot – as he only attempted one field goal over the team’s two preseason games – it’s hard to make too much of a judgment either way based on 24 minutes of effectively pointless play.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it; let’s see what Rivers himself had to say on the subject during a recent press availability. “Well, I mean, he’s missed most of the preseason,” Rivers said on Friday night. “So, we’re just taking our time with him. I wouldn’t read into any rotations right now.”

Ah, there it is; from the head coach’s mouth to the basketball gods’ ears.

For those out of the loop, Thybulle missed most of training camp with an ankle injury, and only returned to the court just before the Sixers took on the Pacers. While this injury shouldn’t completely absolve the guard/forward for blasé play in the team’s pair of preseason performances, when watching the film back, it’s clear everyone’s favorite NBA blogger isn’t playing at 100 percent and may need a bit more time to get his body back to 100 percent.

You can’t make steals like this on a bum ankle, that’s for sure.

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Could Matisse Thybulle ultimately fall out of Doc Rivers’ rotation and find himself an intriguing trade chip by midseason? Totally. Daryl Morey didn’t draft Thybulle to play in Rivers’ scheme and has seemingly made it his lone mission in life to right all of Elton Brand‘s wrongs when it comes to the Sixers. There’s a world where Thybulle is starting next to LaMelo Ball and Devonte’ Graham by April and the Sixers are figuring out how to incorporate a player like Malik Monk or P.J. Washington into their offense moving forward. But until that day comes, I wouldn’t look too far into how much time Thybulle gets in the Philadelphia 76ers’ first few contests, more so how well he performs when his number is called.