Matisse Thybulle‘s rookie season ended amid the COVID-19 pandemic and last offseason was dedicated to the Olympics, so this is the first summer he’s been able to fully focus on improving his skills, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers guard took advantage of the opportunity, spending time training with Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan, and he’s eager to show off the improvements he has made.
“It’s just a different feeling you feel when you can see how much more of yourself when you are giving to your craft,” he said, “and to the team and surrendering to the work and living to whatever the outcome can be.”
Thybulle was a lightning rod for criticism last year because of his limitations on offense and his refusal to get vaccinated, which left him unable to participate in playoff games in Toronto during the team’s first-round series. He was reportedly included in trade offers this summer as the Sixers tried to acquire Eric Gordon from the Rockets, but he’s come to accept that as part of life in the NBA.
“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice. But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer examines questions for 17 Sixers players ahead of training camp, including whether MVP runner-up Joel Embiid will accept more “load management” games, whether James Harden has regained his explosiveness after an offseason to rest his hamstring, and the impact of newcomers P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton.
- The Knicks‘ signing of Jalen Brunson means Julius Randle will have to adjust to an off-the-ball role, notes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Randle has been one of the team’s primary playmakers over the past three seasons, but Braziller expects him to see fewer isolation plays and more post-ups and spot-up shots.
- Juancho Hernangomez is the most likely Raptors player to make a breakthrough during the preseason, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Hernangomez is coming off a strong performance at EuroBasket and provides size for a team that doesn’t have a lot of it. Koreen points to Malachi Flynn, Justin Champagnie, Dalano Banton and D.J. Wilson as other candidates.