NBA summer league: How Matisse Thybulle shined in Sixers' loss to Pistons


The Sixers finished their regular season summer league slate on a losing note.

Matisse Thybulle had his best performance, but the Pistons remain undefeated after a 96-81 win Wednesday afternoon at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. The Sixers fell to 1-3.

Here are observations from the loss.

• It didn’t take Thybulle long to get his hands on the ball on defense. On the first possession, Thybulle nearly created a fast break on a steal. A few minutes later, he did just that.

He continues to look every bit the disruptive player he was at Washington. While most gave credit to the zone for Thybulle’s crazy steal and block stats, the Sixers’ 2019 first-round pick anticipates as well as anyone and is incredibly quick once he recognizes where the ball is going. He had a pair of steals and a number of deflections.

The one clear weakness in Thybulle’s game is ball handling, but he’s looked more comfortable in that regard as the summer league has gone on. He carried out a fake dribble handoff at the top of the key that he then took to his left for a two-hand dunk.

He also had a nice dribble drive before halftime that he dished off to Zhaire Smith, who drew a foul. He had three assists and just one turnover.

His shooting stroke continues to look good. He was 2 of 4 from three and 2 of 2 from the line. He finished with 12 points on 4 of 8 overall.

• Marial Shayok returned to the lineup after missing Monday’s loss with a knee injury. The 2019 second-rounder and recent recipient of a two-way deal continued to show off his offensive ability. He made two threes, including a nice pull-up in transition.

He’s also shown the ability to operate as a ball handler in the pick-and-roll. There’s still a rawness to Shayok’s game. He needs to work on his decision making and shot selection (he finished just 4 of 14), but there’s plenty to like here.

• Smith got off to a slow start offensively but made a couple plays that should excite Brett Brown and the Sixers.

He made a pair of threes, but his most impressive shot came midway through the third quarter. He pulled up around a screen and nailed a midrange jumper off the dribble and looked natural doing so. One of his threes was also off the bounce. 

We all know about Smith’s elite athleticism and defensive prowess. If he can become a confident and consistent shooter, that could make him a legitimate contributor this season. He was 4 of 8 for 11 points.

• Norvel Pelle and Christ Koumadje continue to commit fouls at an unfathomable rate. Both players show ability on the defensive end with their ability to protect the rim and on offense as rollers and finishers. But they both lack discipline and have a long way to go if they want to help an NBA team. They combined for five blocks, but 13 fouls.

• Shake Milton was out with an ankle injury he suffered Monday against the Thunder. It was clearly not the summer league output he would’ve liked to have. He showed his ability to run the offense but struggled mightily with his shot — a skill he showed off frequently last season in the G League. Milton is locked in for the next four years and will have plenty of time during training camp and the preseason to prove he belongs. 

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