Sixers’ shooting guard Matisse Thybulle was one of the most interesting players on the Sixers’ roster going into last season.
After a promising college career, Thybulle established himself as a defensive stalwart in the NBA. Though his offensive game was limited to cutting, passing, and the occasional layup or dunk, Thybulle became a vital part of the rotation through his first three years, even earning spots on the All-Defensive Second Teams in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Up until the playoffs last season, it seemed as though extending Thybulle was a no-brainer for 76ers president of basketball operations Darryl Morey.
Should the Sixers extend Thybulle?
Then, in these playoffs, Thybulle seemed unplayable in the big moments. His defense, though still good, could not justify how much he struggled offensively. His numbers on both ends of the floor dropped as his steals per game, one of his calling cards, dropped from 1.7 in the regular season to 0.8 in the postseason. Thybulle only scored 17 points in all six games against Miami combined. He only broke zero in plus/minus once throughout the playoffs (+3 in Game 1 versus Toronto).
While Thybulle showed flashes of growth in the regular season, particularly in the beginning, his struggles in the playoffs greatly affected how most view him.
During the 2022 offseason, the Sixers have the option to extend Thybulle before he becomes a restricted free agent entering the 2023 summer. His defense makes him an asset, but should the Sixers pay him the rookie max contract to hold onto him?
The answer is not so simple. While Thybulle has shown that his defensive prowess is matched by very few others, his offense has gotten in the way of what his value could be. Right now, he does not fit into the “win now” identity the Sixers have adopted.
Thybulle needs to prove his worth this preseason. If he can do even a little more on the offensive end so he is not a liability, he should be more than worthy of an extension. The only problem, however, is he has not proven that he can take that next step just yet.
The moves for P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton have shown how the Sixers wanted to improve this offseason by adding players that complement Joel Embiid and James Harden. Harden’s new contract added flexibility for the front office to find such players, proving the Sixers believe they have the pieces to make a run at the title.
If Thybulle can not be a viable option for the Sixers, he will make a good piece around the trade deadline to move for someone who can be a more capable 3-and-D rotation player.
Thybulle can be a valuable part of this team and he can have his contract extended before the start of the season. If the team chooses not to extend him and he ends up proving his worth, Thybulle, as a restricted free agent, will not be able to walk without the Sixers having the ability to match any contract he signs.
Ultimately, this is a positive situation for both sides. Thybulle has a high ceiling if he can improve offensively. If he can take the next step, he will be one of the better players on the Sixers and an x-factor down the stretch of the season.
Thybulle has all the potential in the world to earn the money he might be owed. However, he might become a restricted free agent in order to prove it.