One of the bright spots on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster over the course of the previous three seasons has been Matisse Thybulle, who has risen from being a rookie coming off of the bench to being a solid starter for Doc Rivers.
The 2021-22 season saw Thybulle's responsibilities within the team expand, as he would become Philadelphia's premier defender. When Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors came to play the Sixers in early December, Thybulle was given the assignment of guarding Curry. Across his 33 minutes that game, Thybulle blocked Curry twice, forcing him to pass the ball out. Another instance of Thybulle's defensive brilliance would be his four-block and three-steal performance against the Toronto Raptors in March.
As his defensive potential was realized, he was given more time, averaging an additional five minutes per game, while starting a career-high 50 games. Throughout the extended minutes, Matisse rose to the occasion defensively, averaging one block and two steals per game.
This season would also see Thybulle make the second NBA All-Defensive team, as he ranked eighth in overall steals, fourth in steals per game, and led the league in steal percentage.
All of these accolades aside, at the end of next season, Thybulle's contract comes to a close, which begs the question: Does Thybulle have a future in Philadelphia?
An aspect of Thybulle's game to take into consideration is that he is a hybrid player, having the ability to be played as both a forward and a guard. But Thybulle's ability to be a small forward is much more beneficial to the team and his stock, given that the roster isn't short on shooting guards.
Apart from Thybulle, the Sixers have James Harden, Furkan Korkmaz, Isaiah Joe, Charlie Brown Jr., Jaden Springer, Shake Milton, and the recently acquired De'Anthony Melton to use at the two.
When in comparison, apart from Thybulle, Philadelphia only has Korkmaz, Paul Reed, Georges Niang, and the recently signed P.J. Tucker. Out of the other forwards on the team, last season made it clear that Thybulle was their second choice depending on if Danny Green was available.
One reason why Green was starting over Thybulle for the majority of the season was Green's offensive ability, which is something Thybulle doesn't exactly have yet.
Last season, Thybulle averaged six points per game, which isn't a lot, but in his defense, that is because Thybulle wasn't usually who the ball was supposed to go to. Philadelphia took on average 85 shots per game. Thybulle attempted five shots per game, so he wouldn't be scoring much more than he did.
When Thybulle would shoot, he managed to land half of them, yet his three-point shooting still has room for improvement. Thybulle shot 31 percent from deep last season, which is the second-straight season for him. As a forward who constantly finds himself in the corner, having the ability to consistently shoot the three is essential.
Robert Covington, Davis Bertans, and Kevin Durant are all forwards who have managed to perfect their corner three as all of them land within the top three percentile of forwards.
Above roster competition, Thybulle's struggle to develop on the offensive end may be the biggest threat to his future in Philadelphia. A pivotal word in talking about Thybulle's offense is "yet", as he can still manage to turn it around.
Everything is working in Thybulle's favor at the moment when it comes to his development. If Thybulle needs a good three-point shooter to help him perfect his shot, he doesn't have to look any further than James Harden. Or, if he needs specific help from the corner as a forward, he has P.J. Tucker who placed within the top 77 percent of corner threes shooting last season.
Declan Harris contributes to All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @DecIanH.
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