Sixers: Matisse Thybulle has finally earned his spot

Matisse Thybulle, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Matisse Thybulle, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

With trade rumors swirling and the Sixers’ improved depth chart making it harder than ever for Matisse Thybulle to make his case for minutes, the Washington product has unequivocally made his case. The numbers are not hard to decipher. Philadelphia wins its minutes with Thybulle on the floor… by a lot.

As pointed out by Jason Timperley on Twitter, Thybulle has the best net rating in the NBA of any player with over 300 minutes logged. The Sixers are outscoring teams by 15.7 points per 100 possessions with the 25-year-old on the court. He’s shooting 34.9 percent from deep on the season, and even more promisingly, he’s shooting 46.2 percent from deep (!!) over his last 10 games.

It’s the season of Thybulle, it would appear. He’s not the kind of shooter who demands attention — so we can’t rule out postseason issues just yet — but he has clearly supplanted Danuel House Jr. in the rotation and it’s time for Doc Rivers to play the two-time All-Defensive wing more regularly.

The Sixers are starting to see the light with Matisse Thybulle

When last season ended, it felt like a death knell for Thybulle. He struggled mightily in the playoffs, to the point of being virtually unplayable. Then the Sixers made a point to acquire quality two-way wings, one of which was De’Anthony Melton — one of the NBA’s best pickpockets and deflection artists. It felt like a direct referendum on Thybulle.

Melton made Thybulle feel more expendable than ever. Thybulle started for most of the 2021-22 season by necessity with Ben Simmons holding out. But with Melton, as well as P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, the Sixers didn’t need Thybulle’s defense. He became a luxury — window-dressing for lurking trade seekers.

In fact, the Sixers may still try to dish Thybulle to another team at the trade deadline. But it’s feeling more and more like that shouldn’t be done unless the return is substantial. Say what you will about the offense and your long-term confidence in Thybulle as a shooter — he is on the shortlist of most exciting young defenders in the NBA. Very few players can match Thybulle’s length, speed, and activity level on the perimeter. Pair that with Melton on a regular basis, and opposing offenses will have a tough time avoiding turnovers.

The key for Thybulle long-term is sustaining his 3-point success. If defenses have to regard Thybulle as a legitimate shooter — even a league-average, mediocre-at-best kind of shooter — it will completely change the trajectory of his career. If the Sixers can count on Thybulle to knock down a spot-up 3 or two in the playoffs, then he might just command important minutes on the biggest stage.

It’s easy to get caught up in emotion when the Sixers are eliminated early in the playoffs. A lot of fans were ready to write off Thybulle completely last summer, and not for entirely unjustifiable reasons. But Thybulle has responded with clear signs of improvement, and not unlike Shake Milton last season, he is proving the virtue of patience and belief.