Philadelphia 76ers: Keeping Matisse Thybulle is a blessing in disguise

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

As things presently stand on this, the 15th day of July, Matisse Thybulle is still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now granted, that could change in a second, a minute, or even an hour, and the whole premise of this story could be as relevant as a Ben Simmons jersey purchased at full price, but what if it isn’t? What if, despite being reportedly dangled to every team across the NBA alongside the 23rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Thybulle ultimately ends up staying in Philadelphia this fall?

Well, in my humble opinion, that would be far from the worst possible outcome – far better than, say, trading him away to free up cap space, as was reported earlier in the summer.

But why? Thybulle is a horrible shooter who can’t enter Canada and isn’t as necessary as he once was due to the arrivals of De’Anthony Melton, P.J. Tucker, and even Danuel House. Wouldn’t it have been better to swap out his services for a player like, say, Reggie Bullock, who quite literally Instagram aggregated a potential link between the two parties?

Here’s the thing, even if Matisse Thybulle has his flaws, he’s still got a much higher upside than the players Daryl Morey was presumably being offered in a trade. At least in the interim, the two-time all-defensive performer appears to have more value to the Philadelphia 76ers than any other team in the association.

The Philadelphia 76ers can take one final play at the Matisse Thybulle lottery.

To some, the prospects of keeping Matisse Thybulle is beyond disappointing; watching him pass out of/brick open 3s is a net negative to the offense’s flow no matter how you slice it, and the prospects of another season where his man instantly sags off to become a help defender in the painted area are somehow worse. Yes, his defense is at worst great and, at best, game-changing, and his ability to rack up takeaways from the wings is in a league all of his own, but much like a 3-and-no-D shooter can get played off of the court due to the one-way nature of his game, so too can Thybulle fall victim to such a fate.

Here’s the thing, because of the additions of De’Anthony Melton, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House, plus the prospects of another season of Charlie Brown Jr. if you want to go really deep into the bench, Thybulle doesn’t have to play 24 minutes a night, play extensively alongside James Harden and Joel Embiid, and in every possible lineup due to a lack of options on the wings.

No, if Thybulle’s offense remains as offensively pedestrian as it’s ever been, he can still be deployed as a defensive sixth man capable of having his minutes scaled up or down, depending on the matchup. That would allow Thybulle to continue to play a ton with Harden, who he recorded an incredibly impressive 18.8 net rating over 417 minutes of on-court time with, and play less often with Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, who he had net ratings of 4.8 and .8 with in 1,163 and 1,189 minutes respectively.

And if Thybulle gets


average enough as a 3-point shooter to space the field as a fifth offensive option? Well, a whole new world of opportunities could open up to the Sixers.

To his credit, Thybulle knows all about his offensive shortcomings and detailed a desire to use the offseason to improve that aspect of his game, as he detailed during his post-playoff media availability as dictated by Ky Carlin of the Sixerswire.

"“For me, it’s very simple,” said Thybulle. “I have something I do really well and it helps me bring value to the game but outside of that, if I can be a decent 3-point shooter, an effective fastbreak player, and an efficient straight-line driver to the basket, I think, without trying to put more on my plate that’s necessary, that that feels like the simplest approach to just lay a foundation for being more of an asset on the other end of the court.”"

Will it actually happen? History would suggest no – though Thybulle did spend last summer in the Olympics instead of the gym – but if it does work out, well, the Sixers are going to be in business, baby.

Next. Daryl Morey traded away a two-time EuroLeague MVP. dark

Realistically speaking, any trade offer on the table for Matisse Thybulle right now will still be on the table in December, January, or even February. Teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls will still have packages centered around Reggie Bullock and (presumably) Coby White on the table, and another playoff team(s) may find themselves a defender away from being a championship contender and could pay up to get the 25-year-old on their roster. Heck, the market for Thybulle then might actually be better than it is now, as teams will know better what they have and be willing to pay up for what they need. But for now, the Philadelphia 76ers’ inability to trade the soon-to-be fourth-year pro may ultimately prove a blessing in disguise, as it will afford the team one final chance to see if he can finally transcend being the best defensive specialist in the NBA to become a legit two-way player.