Where Has Sixers Rookie Matisse Thybulle Been?
PHILADELPHIA, PA (973espn.com) — The 2019 NBA season just started last month, and the Philadelphia 76ers have already seen their starting lineup and rotations get shaken up. Due to a Joel Embiid suspension followed by a Ben Simmons injury, the Sixers couldn't help but make a few changes for their last stretch of games.
Both Raul Neto and Trey Burke are picking up playing time at guard, while Kyle O'Quinn sees his fair share of minutes on the court as well. Due to the fresh faces getting involved, somebody had to be the odd man out. The loser of the situation happens to be Sixers' rookie first-round pick, Matisse Thybulle.
Despite performing well on the defensive side of the ball throughout the first stretch of games, Brett Brown decided to roll with smaller and more scoring efficient guards as opposed to the rookie, who adds height and strong defense. While Brown referred to Thybulle's on-court absence as somewhat of a punishment — the former Washington guard hasn't actually done anything to deserve it.
"He has done nothing wrong," Brett Brown stated before Sunday's matchup against the Charlotte Hornets. "Some of it is a circumstance like, without Ben [Simmons] what do you do? When I opted to go with the two small guards, and I’m going to do that tonight — the ripple effects sometimes are punishing to people, and for that game, it was to him."
Due to the fact that Thybulle plays on a team that's widespread with talent all across the board, it makes it a lot harder for a first-year player to get minutes when the lineup is forced to be adjusted. On Friday night, the rookie didn't see the court once as the Sixers dropped their third-straight game against Denver.
On Sunday, the situation would've been the same for Thybulle had the Sixers not built up a strong enough lead towards the end of the game. Although Thybulle got some playing time, it surely wasn't a lot. With only two minutes and thirty-four seconds of burn on the court, the rookie is beginning to learn about life in the NBA the hard way.
"You know, it’s just a part of his life," Brown said following the game regarding the lack of Thybulle's playing time. "It’s the evolution of being an NBA rookie on a really good team." Will the lack of Thybulle minutes continue for the Sixers moving forward? Coach Brown is undecided. It seems as long as Simmons is out, this is how it will be. When the All-Star point guard returns to the lineup, though, is when things will get interesting.
While Brett Brown mentions Thybulle needs to understand that this is a "part of his world," and that he "better learn this now," he doesn't see it as a "dramatic" situation. After all, it has only been two games without a reasonable dose of Thybulle. Brown doesn't anticipate this situation becoming a long-term trend, but he also didn't rule it out either. If this becomes a repetitive scenario, then Brown's message to the rookie will undoubtedly have to change. For now, though, this is just a rookie learning to deal with change in the league.