Sixers Coach Explains Return Timeline for Rookie Guard

Isaiah Joe, Matisse Thybulle

Getty Philadelphia 76ers rookie Isaiah Joe chats with teammate Matisse Thybulle.

The Philadelphia 76ers recently designated Isaiah Joe to the NBA G League bubble in Walt Disney World. He’ll join the Delaware Blue Coats for the foreseeable future, although the timeline appears to be a tight one.

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers revealed on Monday that Joe might not be down there that long, depending on how the season shakes out for the Blue Coats (8-4). The G League affiliate only has three games left on their schedule: March 3, vs. Canton; March 5, vs. Salt Lake City; March 6, vs. Memphis.

If Delaware qualifies for the playoffs, then the second-round pick (49th overall) could see extended burn down there while getting some meaningful postseason experience. Otherwise, he’ll likely rejoin the big club in Philadelphia.

“He won’t be down long,” Rivers told reporters on Monday, via Ky Carlin. “We’re gonna need him, but we just felt like with the All-Star break coming, there’s an opportunity to play a lot of games. He can play at least two and then playoffs and maybe keep him down for a couple. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Joe had been taking over veteran Furkan Korkmaz’s spot in the rotation due to his effort on the defensive end. However, his shooting isn’t quite up to snuff to be counted on in clutch moments. The rookie is averaging 4.3 points in 12 minutes per game while shooting 38.3% from deep.

Matisse Thybulle Shares Special Story

Second-year guard Matisse Thybulle has returned to a bench role after filling in for a starter due to injuries. Known as one of the best young on-the-ball defenders in the league, the 23-year-old hasn’t been asked to do much shooting. His role is to space the floor, sometimes taking off in transition. He is averaging 3.2 points in 18 minutes per game while shooting 37.1 percent from the field.

“I talked to Matisse last night on the phone. He is an NBA All-Defensive player now,” Rivers saiod of Thybulle during his introductory press conference. “He has a chance right now to make a difference defensively. Offensively will be his next step, and we’ll work on that.”

Thybulle, a dual-citizen of the United States and Australia, has also struck up a pretty unique relationship with Sixers general manager Elton Brand who took him on an art tour during a recent road trip in Houston. Remember, he’s named after the famous French painter Henri Matisse.

“We spent like a couple of hours talking hoops, talking art,” Thybulle said of the experience, via Sports Illustrated. “We talked everywhere from Malcolm Gladwell to M. Night Shyamalan to his time at Wharton. It was a really cool experience as a rookie to have the GM kind of pour into me like that.”

Sixers Update Injury Report

There is encouraging news on Tobias Harris after the injured swing forward missed the last three games with a right knee contusion. The Sixers have gone 201 in his absence, but only thanks to Herculean efforts from All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Harris is their second-leading scorer (20.2 points) and the team clearly misses his offense.

Rivers told reporters that he expects to get Harris back out there for Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz. He was listed questionable on Monday night and eventually the contest out. The Sixers pulled out an impressive 130-114 win without him.

“I hope so,” Rivers said on Harris possibly playing versus Utah. “He really tried to play tonight [Monday], but we more made the call tonight. We need him, hopefully, we can get him back next game.”

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