August 20, 2022

How will Matisse Thybulle’s tenure as a 76er be remembered if he is traded?

Will people remember him as a two-time All-Defensive Second Team selection? Will they remember his offensive shortcomings? Or will they say the Sixers gave him up too soon?

I’m convinced the Sixers would give him up too soon. But I also believe that Thybulle had better go somewhere new, a change of scenery.

That’s because it’s nearly impossible to thrive while looking over your shoulder on the pitch and constantly being mentioned in potential trades. It’s also hard to maintain confidence in these situations, especially when it comes to shooting.

Lack of confidence leads to hesitation. And if you feel like your coach isn’t fully behind you or will bench you for a mistake, it can become difficult to thrive. But if Thybulle gets into a new situation, he’ll get a fresh start and play with more confidence.

READ MORE: NBA Draft: Sixers Shouldn’t Sign PJ Tucker, Trade Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris | Marcus Hayes

At that point, the Sixers will likely regret trading him.

Some have noted that the three-year veteran guard’s offensive play has regressed to the point of being useless. They labeled the dominant perimeter defender as one-dimensional. And some believe his actions may have denied them opportunities to advance deep into the past two playoffs.

Some haven’t completely forgiven him for fouling Kevin Huerter in a three-point attempt with the Sixers down, 93-92, against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 2021. The Hawks guard made all three foul shots to give Atlanta a four-point lead. On the ensuing possession, a Joel Embiid turnover, his eighth of the game, led to a breakaway layup by Danilo Gallinari at the other end to make it 98-92. The Sixers would go on to lose, 103-96.

Many people are pointing the finger at Ben Simmons, blaming him for the loss for letting a dunk go by with 3 minutes and 29 seconds left and his team dropping two points. Coincidentally, the pass went to Thybulle, who only managed one of two free throws. So Thybulle always took some of the blame for foulting Huerter.

Some also pointed the finger at Thybulle for elimination in the second round of this post-season because he was not vaccinated. Since January 15, players had to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. As a result, Thybulle was ineligible to play in Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Sixers’ first-round series against the Raptors. He was even replaced in the starting line-up by Danny Green as he wasn’t available for all games.

Even though the Sixers won the series in six games, some blamed Thybulle’s actions for disrupting team chemistry and rotation.

If we’re going to be honest, Embiid’s injuries and James Harden’s struggles had more to do with the Sixers’ loss to the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals than the aftermath of Thybulle’s decision.

He’s been mentioned in potential trades for two seasons, so this isn’t breaking news.

Sources said the Sixers tried to trade him and Simmons to the Houston Rockets for Harden in January 2021. He survived that.

A month later, the Sixers attempted to acquire Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors. But they didn’t want to part ways with Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey.

Another survival.

And before the February trade deadline, the Sixers were unwilling to include him in the trade package they sent to the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Harden.

A third survival.

And he survived Thursday, the day of the NBA draft.

The Sixers attempted to acquire Eric Gordon from the Rockets on draft night, using Thybulle as an asset. They even attempted to bring in a third team, according to multiple league sources.

READ MORE: Daryl Morey trade for De’Anthony Melton shows he still has to right Sixers’ own mistakes

But how many trade lives does Thybulle have left, especially when he’s one of the Sixers’ few trade chips?

By now, it’s easy to think back to the fact that he was often left open to shooting, especially in the playoffs, while his defender wandered around or teamed up with another player.

Thybulle, however, was never able to focus on improving his attacking game ahead of this offseason.

He was unable to train during the pandemic lockdown after his rookie season. Then he spent last summer with the Australian men’s basketball team, winning a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

This summer, he worked with the Sixers’ skill development coaches even though the team is trying to trade him.

Thybulle is determined to improve.

As my colleague Marcus Hayes points out, Thybulle shot 32.4% from three in his first three seasons. Hall of Famer Jason Kidd made just 32.3% of his threes in his first three campaigns and didn’t make an All-Defensive team until his fifth season.

No one is saying Thybulle is on Kidd’s level, but it shows that effective shooting develops over time.

People forget how Andre Iguodala was vilified as a Sixer for not living up to others’ expectations. Some thought Jrue Holiday was replaceable, a point guard of a dozen cents, they said.

But think how good the Sixers would be if they were both still on the team, or if they were at least allowed to grow and flourish here.

Iguodala went on to become the 2015 NBA Finals MVP and a four-time NBA title champion with the Golden State Warriors. Holiday’s versatility at both ends of the court helped the Milwaukee Bucks win the 2021 NBA title.

Like the duo, Thybulle has a chance to flourish once they develop a consistent attacking game.

So how will he be remembered assuming the Sixers trade him?