Sixers Defensive Specialist Continues to Work Through Shooting Issues

Matisse Thybulle, Sixers

Getty Matisse Thybulle #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers poses at 76ers Training Complex on September 26, 2022.

One of the most talked about players this offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers has been Matisse Thybulle. The two-time All-Defensive Second Team member is known for his eye-popping defensive abilities, but his offensive limitations have prevented him from receiving more of an expanded role. Several members of the Sixers have showered Thybulle with praise for his offseason work this summer. He spent time working out with multiple NBA All-Stars as well as a new shooting coach this summer to help cut out unnecessary motion in his jump shot.

While his form admittedly looks different, the early success has not been shown. Through two preseason games, Thybulle has shot just one for six on three-point attempts. While this is far too small of a sample size to be making any judgments, hitting the side of the backboard on an open corner three in his first attempt against the Cavaliers was not encouraging. The 25-year-old is determined to improve and stayed late following the preseason victory to continue working on his craft.

Thybulle’s Shooting Struggles

The inconsistent perimeter shooting of Thybulle has been well documented. After shooting 35.7% on three-pointers as a rookie, he has seen his percentage and volume of attempts take a hit. Despite playing 5.7 more minutes per game last season than he did as a rookie, Thybulle attempted fewer three-point attempts which is a concern. The 31.3% rate he shot last season was a slight increase from the 30.1% he shot in the 2020-21 season, but still not a reliable enough rate. There were moments when he had opportunities to shoot and passed up on it which leads to spacing issues and makes it clear his confidence is not where it needs to be.

To Thybulle’s credit, he has looked much more willing to shoot through the first two preseason games. Even the shot off the side of the backboard did not deter the Washington product from attempting two more long-range jumpers.

If he can get his percentage up to just league average (35.2%) from beyond the three-point arc it would drastically change Thybulle’s career trajectory. If this occurs he can become a premier three-and-D role player in the NBA. However, if this does not become the case he will continue to be a defensive specialist and certain matchups will continue to make it difficult to get him on the floor.

Could Thybulle be Odd Man Out?

Unfortunately for the former fan-favorite, there is more pressure on Thybulle than ever. The Sixers’ additions of players like De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, and P.J. Tucker have made the competition for minutes much steeper as the second unit is deeper than ever.

There has been a focus on adding two-way players which is a category that Thybulle does not quite fit in at this point in his career. He also is heading into the last season of his contract and will be in search of an extension this offseason. After surviving an offseason connecting him to a number of trade rumors, it is make-or-break time for Thybulle on the court.

While the bottom line is the results of how many of the shots end up going in, all of Thybulle’s statements and actions surrounding his desire to improve have been encouraging. He has two more preseason games to continue getting comfortable before the real test will begin in the Sixers’ October 18th season opener. This has been the most pressure Thybulle has been under during his young career and it will be interesting to see how he responds.

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