Dan Burke

Sixers Notes: Thybulle, Simmons, Embiid

Rookie Matisse Thybulle has special skills for a defender but his discipline is what is going to allow him to play more minutes for the Sixers, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes.

“I should have a higher tolerance level to endure his wild decisions defensively,” head coach Brett Brown said after the team’s contest against the Jazz. “Because they are punishing. This league is so unforgiving when you just forget, ‘Oh, I left Joe Ingles, I forgot he could shoot, and I’m just going to make any play I want — And oh, my bad.’ [Thybulle] is getting better at that and I have to allow him to get better at that.”

If Thybulle had joined the Sixers three or four years ago, he’d have plenty of court time to experiment and grow. However, this is not “The Process” version of the Sixers any longer. The stakes are much higher as the team looks to make its first NBA Finals appearance since 2001.

“I’m always reminding myself, if we woke up tomorrow and it’s April 15th, would I feel comfortable that I’ve grown him the way that I should? And I need to do more, and better, sort of within the confines of what I’ve just said,” Brown said.

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Thybulle, whom the team traded up in the 2019 draft to nab, isn’t taking his playing time for granted. The rookie is using his court time to learn from his mistakes and gain the reps needed to be a contributor on a playoff team. “Just being out there and seeing it live, I think, is huge,” Thybulle said (via Bodner in the same piece). “Most of these games, it’s my first time [playing against a team]. We played against [Utah] twice now, so I had a better feel for the guys. And just with each game, I get a better feel for the pace and what I can get away with, with the refs or with help-side and those types of gambles.”
  • With Ben Simmons and Thybulle on the squad, the Sixers have options when defending opposing perimeter threats, Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia explains. The duo shared defensive duties guarding Utah’s Donovan Mitchell on Monday and held him to just 6-for-19 from the field.
  • Some around the league aren’t thrilled with Joel Embiid and his antics on the court. Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke wasn’t shy when given the platform to discuss the big man’s style (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). “I hate that team…I think Embiid gets away with a bunch of crap the league ignores,” Burke said of Indiana’s recent matchup with the Sixers.

Central Notes: James, Wiggins, McMillan, Pistons

LeBron James is falling in the NBA Finals with the Cavaliers team that he built, writes Dave Hyde of The Sun-Sentinel. It was James’ decision to leave Miami for Cleveland two years ago because he saw a franchise with younger talent, Hyde notes, and he pushed for the deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota for Kevin Love. James also approved the trade with New York that brought J.R. Smith and supported the hiring of Tyronn Lue, who had no previous experience as a head coach. Cavs managment has given James everything he wanted since his return, Hyde writes, saying it shows the danger of letting a player make too many personnel decisions.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • James’ desire to have Love as a teammate instead of Wiggins shaped the Cavaliers‘ destiny, contends Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Wiggins’ defensive prowess would have been much more valuable against the Warriors, Powell argues, noting that he is also capable of creating offense with his dribble, in contrast to Love, who has settled into a role as a 3-point shooter since he arrived in Cleveland. Wiggins also could have eased the Cavaliers’ financial burden with a rookie contract instead of the maximum deal that Love got last summer.
  • The Cavs’ bench has been letting them down in the finals, points out Marc Berman of The New York Post. Channing Frye, who was acquired in a February deal with the Magic, only has two points in the series. Iman Shumpert has been held to 11. Love came off the bench to score 11 in Game 4, but the rest of the reserves combined for just four points. Berman says depth will need to be the focus of Cleveland’s offseason moves.
  • New Pacers coach Nate McMillan will keep Dan Burke and Popeye Jones as part of his staff, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Agness says McMillan seems to have decided on a third assistant, but no announcement has been made.
  • The Pistons may concentrate on power forwards with the 18th pick in the draft, writes David Mayo of MLive. Detroit traded that pick to Houston for Donatas Motiejunas in a February deal that was later rescinded, so it’s clear that Pistons management recognizes the need for help at the four spot. Mayo lists Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis, Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson and Kansas’ Perry Ellis as four possibilities.

Central Notes: Pacers, Cavs, Workouts, Pistons

The Pacers, who typically employ three assistant coaches, will have at least one hole to fill in that group after Nate McMillan‘s promotion to head coach. However, as Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star writes (via Twitter), the team would like to retain its other two assistants, Dan Burke and Popeye Jones. That would leave one opening, and McMillan would have the opportunity to pick his replacement, per Buckner.

Here’s more on Indiana and a few more Central teams:

  • The Pacers held their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday, and will hold another session on Wednesday, according to a pair of announcements from the team. Participants today that had not been previously reported included Dorian Finney-Smith, Michael Gbinije, Sheldon McClellan, and Tyrone Wallace. Tomorrow, Ryan Arcidiacono, Wade Baldwin, Matt Costello, Max Landis, Patrick McCaw, and Kaleb Tarczewski will work out for Indiana.
  • Before he works out for Indiana on Wednesday, Tarczewski participated in a workout for the Cavaliers today, tweets Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops. Cleveland also took a look at Maryland’s Rasheed Sulaimon in that workout, says Scotto.
  • Thon Maker had been scheduled to take part in Indiana’s workout on Wednesday, but he won’t participate due to a scheduling issue, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Zagoria suggests that Maker will still work out for the Pacers and Bulls at some point.
  • Given how defined their roster already is, the Pistons could have the opportunity to gamble on upside with the 18th overall pick in the draft, rather than seeking instant help, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

And-Ones: Porzingis, Bjelica, Stevens

Projected 2015 lottery pick Kristaps Porzingis indicated that he withdrew from last year’s draft because he felt he wasn’t yet ready to compete in the NBA, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype relays. “As soon as I declared for the draft, I knew that I wanted I to stay one more year in Spain to get better,” Porzingis said. “Now looking back I think we made the right decision. I had a bad start of the season – individually and as a team. I could have played much better, but I think I have improved my consistency and I have picked it up since the bad start of the season. This season has been tough, but I want to say thanks to coach [Scott] Roth for the work he did with me in Seville. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and I wish him the best.” The seven-footer also indicated that he no longer had doubts regarding entering the NBA, Sierra adds.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • According to Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter links), two assistant coaches who will be in play this offseason for available head coaching vacancies are the PacersDan Burke, and the HawksKenny Atkinson.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens has his team ahead of schedule in its rebuilding process, which is a testament to his abilities as a leader, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Stevens stressing unselfishness and creating opportunities for teammates appeals to Boston’s players, Zillgitt adds. “All these guys are in the NBA for a reason, and they’re really, really good at something,” Stevens said. “If you can separate yourself at being one of the best at the things you do well, then you always have a spot where people are going to value you. It just makes sense to a be a superstar in your role.”
  • Former NBA GM and current coach of the Turkish club Eskişehir Basket Brad Greenberg has high praise for Wolves‘ draft-and-stash pick Nemanja Bjelica, David Pick of Basketball Insiders writes. While Greenberg believes Bjelica is ready to play in the NBA, he’s not sure if the big man will head to the U.S. to play in the near future, Pick adds. “Can Bjelica be on an NBA team? Sure. Will he? I don’t know,” Greenberg said. “Like all high-level Euroleague players who make a lot of money overseas, it has to be a situation that makes sense financially, and where he gets an opportunity to play. Europeans don’t want to give up something that is comfortable, good and financially rewarding for a ‘what if?’ situation. Bjelica is talented enough to be in an NBA gym and not look out of place. That’s for sure.