Sixers Could Target Surprising Tanking Team in Search for Matisse Thybulle Replacement

Matisse Thybulle, Sixers

Getty Joel Embiid #21 and Matisse Thybulle #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers steal the ball from Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center on December 09, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ have improved their play in recent weeks by a large margin. However, it still feels as if they are still a piece or two away from truly joining the conversation as true NBA contenders. The core has been established with Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey (whose return is imminent) each has shown flashes to start the year. However, the supporting cast may not be optimizing them in a necessary way. Inconsistent play from several rotation pieces has been put on display to start the season which has been detrimental to the team’s overall level of play.

Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney narrowed down the position Philadelphia is targeting while speaking to an anonymous Eastern Conference Executive. As the front office member put it, “They have been in the market for a wing, there is no doubt about that. They were looking for big guys but they seem to be OK with what they have now. Obviously, it would be ideal for them if Matisse (Thybulle) could shoot. But he is what he is. So they need a better 3-and-D guy, but their problem is, a lot of teams are looking for that.”

Looking at Potential Targets

This executive also shed light on where the Sixers could be searching. With the Charlotte Hornets now sitting at 9-26 and closer to the race for Victor Wembanyama than making the playoffs, it is theorized they could become sellers at the deadline. As the Eastern Conference Executive put it:

“The Hornets might be their best opportunity, to get a guy like Kelly Oubre, last year of his contract and maybe just give up Thybulle, Jaden Springer and (Furkan) Korkmaz. Oubre is not great but he is a good bench option for them.

Or they could do a deal for Cody Martin if he ever gets healthy. Again, they need a versatile guy who can shoot and defend off the bench, a wing. They have not been that active but you can bet they will start to be soon,” per Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney.

The core of just about every Sixers deal seems set to be built around Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and/or Jaden Springer which is limiting to what they can realistically get back. They also are very limited in draft picks they can attach due to previous trades with their 2029 first-round pick the only first-rounder they can attach. Most of the win-now moves were made this offseason which included bringing in players like De’Anthony Melton, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel Hosue Jr. While Melton has been an ideal fit on the roster, the other two key additions have had some notable up-and-downs through the first 33 games.

Sixers Current Rotation and Would this be an Upgrade?

As has been the problem with the Sixers in recent years, they have been overly reliant on players without complete games. While Korkmaz and Georges Niang are capable of getting red-hot from beyond the three-point arc, they both struggle mightily defensively. Thybulle can produce some eye-popping defensive highlights, but his offensive deficiencies make him impossible to hide for an extended period of time. The talks of the reworked jump shot have not translated as he has connected on just 11 of his 36 three-point attempts (30.6%) to start the season.

Neither of these potential targets is a perfect player either. Kelly Oubre Jr is averaging a career-high 20.6 points per game but this is correlated to the Hornets’ struggles and injuries in a major way. However, his unwavering confidence and shot-creation ability would be a refreshing addition. His career 6.5 three-pointers per 36 minutes would rank fifth on the Sixers ahead of Tobias Harris, although his 31.1% three-point percentage this season is not overly encouraging.

Cody Martin would be the more complete addition but, as was alluded to, injuries are a notable concern. He has played a total of just one minute in the season. After originally being diagnosed with a quadriceps issue, Martin has been forced to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and has been out for roughly the past six weeks. Based on the expected timeline it would seem his return to the court should be coming soon, but it would be a gamble to invest too heavily in the 27-year-old due to these concerns.

The NBA trade deadline is not until February 9th, so there is still plenty of time for talks to heat up. The slew of injuries on the Hornets’ roster has led them toward the rebuild and Daryl Morey would be wise to attempt to capitalize on this. The Sixers may lack the assets for a blockbuster deal, but don’t expect them to remain fully satisfied with how the roster currently stands.

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