It’s that time of year again where we watch meaningless basketball and overreact like crazy about both good and bad play – otherwise known as Summer League. Like most other people, I watch Summer League primarily to get a good look at the newest 1st round draft pick(s). This year’s selection, Matisse Thybulle, had a good run in back-to-back games against Milwaukee and Boston. My first look at Thybulle’s game is below.
In his first minutes of the first Summer League game, it was easy to see why the Sixers moved up to draft Thybulle in this June’s NBA draft. Thybulle flies around the perimeter, covering a lot of ground with his body control, footwork and length. On the first defensive possession of the game, Matisse was on the weak side, when he closed out on an open shooter to force a pass to the corner for a three, which he also contested and actually got a piece of.
Thybulle also played solid on ball defense throughout the Milwaukee game. He played the passing lanes well, forcing bad passes and turnovers throughout the game. Thybulle was credited with three steals, but I counted at least three more possessions where he challenged a passing lane or helped out defensively and someone else on the team got the steal. He contested many jump shots, and I don’t remember seeing anyone hit a shot that he was able to get a decent contest on.
Against Boston, Thybulle displayed a lot of the same skills and abilities as he did against Milwaukee, but he didn’t come up with as many steals. However, he did manage two blocks and a +2 in a game the Sixers lost by 14.
One thing I noticed about Thybulle is that he relies heavily on his instincts when on the ball. He seems to guess a bit at where his guy is going to go, and then he commits to getting there first. A few times, he misplayed less athletic guys and was beat off the dribble as a result. However, he recovered quickly enough in most of those cases to add some pressure on the back-end of a drive.
Offensively, Thybulle’s role looks pretty much as we would have expected. Basically, a spot up three-point shooter. He very much reminded me of Robert Covington, on both ends of the floor, but even more so offensively. Through two games, he is shooting 4 of 13 (31%) from three. Thybulle had four turnovers against Milwaukee, and I think three of them were on possessions where he drove while trying to attack a closeout. Also, very Covington-esque. He had a similar turnover early in the first against Boston as well. That will be something to keep an eye on during the season. But, his jump shot is compact, quick, and smooth, and he has a high release. He seemed to be more comfortable as a spot up shooter than in transition, and I think he will get a lot of those looks in the Sixers’ offense this year.
One thing I noticed watching Thybulle on the offensive end is that he seemed to find open cutting lanes on various occasions, but his teammates were unable to find him on any of those possessions. I feel like that skill set will be maximized when he plays with the big boys during the season – as guys like Ben Simmons and Al Horford will be able to find him in those lanes.
Overall, I thought Thybulle looked great. I think his major weakness thus far has been when he put the ball on the floor on closeouts. It doesn’t seem that he is comfortable doing that right now. But, defensively, Thybulle looks like the real deal. I am glad the Sixers moved up to draft him a few weeks ago. I think he can grow into an elite level 3-and-D role player for this team.