We are just a few days out from the NBA Draft, a time in which teams will begin to shuffle rosters with draft picks, trades, and other moves. The Sixers are expected to be an active team after coming up short in the postseason yet again.
It’s widely known and reported that the Sixers are at the very least listening to offers in regards to All-Star Ben Simmons. I think it’s safe to assume that, one way or another, he won’t be on the roster in the coming fall. I’m sure there will be mixed reactions, but the Sixers getting a more “traditional” point guard should benefit the team in a lot of areas. By traditional, I mean a guard that’s willing to shoot the ball when they're open.
Trading away Ben Simmons will bring change — some good and some bad. I do see plenty of opportunity in regards to Matisse Thybulle, who has been dominating in exhibition play for Team Australia in preparation for the Olympics.
Absolutely tremendous defense on Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/HMN6AdXThN— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) July 13, 2021
We’ve seen Matisse Thybulle be an absolute defensive monster on the court for two seasons now. He’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the game right now, which says something about his impact considering he only averages 20 minutes per game for his career. That limited playing time didn’t hold him back from earning All-Defensive honors.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen Thybulle’s offense hold him back from having a larger role. Apart from catch-and-shoot jumpers (which he shoots below average on), he’s very limited in what he can bring on that end of the court. If he isn’t hitting 3s, the offense can begin to stall, especially when he’s paired with a point guard that isn’t willing to shoot open shots.
I believe there will be a newfound role for Thybulle if the Sixers do indeed ship off Ben Simmons in a trade. Most will point towards Damian Lillard — who is the guy most fans are crossing their fingers for in the event of a Simmons deal. Regardless of personal opinion on Simmons, he is a tremendous perimeter defender who took the majority of the toughest matchups on a nightly basis for the Sixers. Losing him would likely lose you a lot of defense, especially if you’re trading him for Lillard.
This is where keeping Thybulle becomes much more crucial if you’re dealing Ben Simmons. There aren’t any deals out that that the Sixers want to do where you’re gaining any defense by trading away a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Factor in Danny Green possibly leaving via free agency and you’re looking at Thybulle to carry a huge defensive load on the perimeter.
Inserting Thybulle into the projected starting five would make a lot of sense in this scenario, as there would be newfound floor spacing. Thybulle would be the weakest shooter on the floor, which is a good thing. This would allow Matisse to be much more playable and you would likely see an uptick in his minutes, which would lead to even more production from him.
Even if the Sixers don’t do a deal for Lillard — I think the same sentiment holds true with other trade options. Malcolm Brogdon is another name commonly floated around in rumors or reports. A traditional point guard would make Matisse Thybulle much more playable, as defenses wouldn’t be able to collapse as easily.
FIBA play has given us a glimpse into Thybulle’s development — and I must say I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen. We know he’s an absolute beast defensively, but he’s been showcasing new offensive skills that could be huge if he’s capable of doing so on a consistent basis. He’s shown capability of hitting corner 3s, slashing to the rim in right moments, and even shooting off the dribble. Yes, the last part of that happened only once, but let a man dream!
Matisse Thybulle hits a three off the dribble (?!) pic.twitter.com/noUcO7GsCt— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) July 13, 2021
The wake of a Ben Simmons deal very well might lead to the Sixers finally fully unleashing their other All-Defensive perimeter player in a wider compacity. There will be newfound opportunities in the event of a deal, and you shouldn’t be surprised if Matisse Thybulle takes full advantage of them.