When Doc Rivers met the media on Monday morning for the first time ahead of the 2022-2023 NBA season, he revealed that nobody outworked three young Philadelphia 76ers players over the summer in his eyes.
Considering Rivers dubbed Maxey and Reed as two of the hardest workers he’s dealt with recently following their rookie seasons, it didn’t shock many to hear Rivers applaud them for their effort.
However, the mention of Matisse Thybulle as the third prospect raised eyebrows. That’s not to say that Thybulle’s work ethic has been in question, but Rivers’ note added more passengers on the Thybulle hype train as a report came out days before training camp highlighting the fact that Thybulle has spent the summer zeroing in on his offensive progression by working with some non-Sixers NBA stars.
With a few practices in the rearview, Thybulle left a positive impression on his star center, Joel Embiid. “I’m so proud of him,” said Embiid. “So far, you can tell he’s put in the work all summer. He’s been amazing. Obviously, he needs to keep going when it matters, but he’s made a lot of improvement, and that’s what we want. That’s what we want from everybody on this team, and he’s been doing an amazing job.”
Over the summer, Thybulle was spotted working on finishing at the rim and improving his handles on short clips that were floated around the internet. According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Thybulle participated in some workout sessions with Chicago star DeMar DeRozan and Portland All-Star Damian Lillard. Progress from sessions with the latter prospect seemed to show a bit this week, according to Doc Rivers.
“He’s working on his shot,” said Rivers, according to Ky Carlin of the Sixers Wire. "Yesterday he had a great offensive day. He made three or four threes shooting the ball well. Today he didn’t make any, and that’s OK. What I like is when he misses one, you don’t notice. They swung it to him on the next play, and he shot it again, so those are positive steps.”
Last season, Thybulle expanded his offensive value when James Harden arrived. Instead of being solely a three-and-D type of player, Thybulle was seen cutting to the basket more than he ever did in previous seasons. With DeRozan over the summer, Thybulle reportedly worked on finishing at the rim, which could go a long way on the offensive end for the fourth-year defensive standout.
“He’s been great at [cutting],” said Rivers, per Carlin. “We do a drill, one of our skill development guys we worked on, we call it, I hate to give Avery Bradley this much credit, but we literally call it the Avery Bradley drill because we think he’s one of the better cutters ever. We’ve been working on it all summer with certain guys, and they’ve been doing a great job of it.”
Thybulle has averaged under five points per game in three seasons while draining just 32 percent of his threes. While the Sixers don’t need Thybulle to turn into a key scorer for the team when he’s on the floor, he needs to be more reliable on the offensive end to keep a consistent role. Thybulle still has a lot to prove over the next couple of weeks, but it sounds like his offseason improvement is turning heads at camp so far.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.