Sixers Could Look to Trade Defensive Ace Before Start of Season

Matisse Thybulle Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Matisse Thybulle #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers enter training camp having significantly retooled the roster. While the top of the lineup looks much the same — Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris — it’s the rest of the rotation that got a major boost this summer.

Rather than rely on the inconsistent performances of Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and Georges Niang, the Sixers went out and acquired Danuel House, De’Anthony Melton, and Montrezl Harrell via free agency or trade. The new additions could go a long way towards boosting a bench unit that finished 28th in scoring and 27th in assists last season across the NBA.

But then there’s Matisse Thybulle. The former Washington Huskie is caught in a bit of the middle. His defensive numbers are extraordinary; last season, he held three-point shooters to a 24.4% make-rate en route to an All-Defense Second Team nod. But while his defense might warrant consideration in the starting lineup, his offense has seen him exiled to the bench.

And now, with training camp right around the corner, Thybulle could be on the hot seat. According to Sam DiGiovanni of ClutchPoints, the Sixers’ defensive ace is a prime trade candidate heading into the new season.

“The 25-year-old defensive sensation may have played his way out of Philly’s good graces in the postseason. He seems to face an uphill battle for remaining a key part of the squad moving forward,” wrote DiGiovanni on September 21.

Thybulle has struggled to stay in offensive form consistently. But his biggest woes also came the last time he donned a Sixers jersey: last year’s playoffs.

Thybulle Struggled in the Playoffs for the 76ers

Thybulle actually made progress last season as a starter, cracking the top-five in 50 of his 66 regular season games. But his numbers were forgettable at best, anemic at worst. Thybulle shot 50% from the field and just 31.3% from three.

When the Sixers drafted Thybulle, they had hoped he could become a premier three-and-D starter down the road. The “D” is definitely there. But the “three” is still a long way off.

“He isn’t a strong shooter, ball-handler or offensive creator in any way. His only notable increase in production came at the free-throw line, but his percentage there has wildly fluctuated throughout his career. The lack of volume he has in free throws doesn’t leave a whole lot of room to confidently say he’s figuring it out,” DiGiovanni noted.

But perhaps the worst sting came during the playoffs. First, it was revealed Thybulle isn’t fully vaccinated, meaning he missed the two Sixers games in Toronto. But then, when he was eligible to play, he gave head coach Doc Rivers every reason to keep him on the bench. He posted a negative net rating in each of Philadelphia’s games against the Heat, culminating in back-to-back minus-15 performances in Games Six and Seven.

But Thybulle’s candidacy on the trade market is marked by another factor: he might be the only guy the other teams care about.

Thybulle is One of Few 76ers Bench Players with Trade Value

If the Sixers do intend to get the most bang from their bench on the trade market, Thybulle is the only one that might generate interest on his own. That’s because, while his offense is lacking his defensive tools are legit, replicable, and enticing.

“Thybulle stands apart from the other bench players on the Sixers because he may actually have some interest around the league,” DiGiovanni explained. “No team is giving up something significant for the likes of Shake Multon, Furkan Korkmaz or Georges Niang. If his great defense was complimented by even decent offense, he likely would be competing for a starting job. He may have just one more shot to prove he can be a productive player in the postseason.”

The Sixers also need to get under the league’s 15-players under contract maximum rule for the regular season. With 17 players currently under contract, Thybulle could be the centerpiece of a small three-for-one deal with another team.

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