When the Philadelphia 76ers took the floor on opening night on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, they were a brand new team under a new coach in Doc Rivers looking to get off on the right foot.
The team made plenty of changes in the offseason adding a lot of players they believe will help the team move forward in the Eastern Conference. The new additions, plus the continued development of other players, caused Rivers to make some tweaks to the rotation.
One of those noticeable changes was that 2020 rookie darling Matisse Thybulle did not see the floor until there were 42.2 seconds left in the game when he was asked to defend Wizards shooter Davis Bertans. Thybulle led all rookies in steals in the 2019-20 season as he impressed on the defensive end, but he was not in the rotation to begin the season on Wednesday.
There are a few possible reasons for this current situation as Rivers may have turned to Furkan Korkmaz a bit more due to his shooting in order to space the floor for Joel Embiid in the fourth quarter. Another reason could be due to the second-year wing player missing time in camp due to an injury which is what the new coach explained.
“I mean, Matisse missed some time in camp,” Rivers explained. “The young fellas (Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton) are playing great, I thought in the first half, he was terrific. Matisse will get his chance and I tell him that every day.”
The positive thing about Thybulle’s reaction was that it was positive. After such a successful rookie season, he was expected to have a role in his second season and he could have sulked for not playing until late in the fourth quarter as he was playing in his current situational role.
Instead, he jumped off the bench when his number was called and he was ready to go to work.
“What I liked about Matisse, you’ve been around this league a long time, I haven’t played all game, you turn to him, a lot of times they’ll give you the bad body language,” Rivers added. “Matisse ripped his [warmups], he couldn’t wait to get in. That tells me a lot about him.”
As the season continues, Thybulle will probably have to add to his offensive game for him to earn a rotation spot again. However, his defensive acumen should give him a chance to play his way into Rivers’ heart as the season continues.
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