Don’t look too much into Brett Brown’s substitution pattern after one preseason game, so said the 76ers coach.
Brown’s first two players off the bench were rookie Matisse Thybulle and swingman James Ennis in Tuesday’s 144-86 win over the Guangzhou Loong-Lions at the Wells Fargo Center.
Thybulle, the 6-foot-5 first-round draft pick from Washington, was the star of Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage in Wilmington, making several deflections and steals that had the crowd and his teammates buzzing.
He had another strong game against the overmatched team from the Chinese Basketball Association with 10 points, three steals and two blocked shots in 16 minutes, 54 seconds.
Again, Brown said to not read into Thybulle being the first sub off the bench.
“That is how I see him at the moment in regards to who I wanted to give an opportunity to first,” Brown said. “As it relates to ‘Is that his role, is that his position?' You shouldn’t read into it like that. Clearly I wanted to grow what he did in Delaware and continue to see it. I put him in as soon for those reasons.”
Thybulle, who was selected 20th overall by the Sixers in this past summer’s NBA draft, hasn’t been overwhelmed during the preseason.
“For me, I just wanted to feel like I belonged out there and I was able to feel that,” he said.
In another move with key reserves, Brown used Trey Burke as his first point guard off the bench replacing Ben Simmons.
Burke and Raul Neto have been the two main players battling for the backup point guard position, although Brown continues to suggest there could be other candidates.
He also stressed that nothing should be read into Burke’s entering the game before Neto.
“Trey got sort of the lion’s share of the minutes with our more prominent players,” Brown said. “You are probably going to see that flip and give Raul that opportunity.”
Brown again said he is open to others joining the competition, including Shake Milton and current starting off-guard Josh Richardson.
“Maybe Shake is going to come in there, maybe Josh is going to come over and play some,” Brown said. “I am open to whoever the best player is, so I don’t feel restricted like that.”
Burke, who struggled shooting during the scrimmage, didn’t have that problem on Tuesday. He hit 4 of 7 from the field, including 2 of 3 from three-point range.
Neto had two points in 10:11, but had five assists compared with two turnovers.
Brown said that despite the huge discrepancy in talent, he was able to see some good things from his team, mostly that there were 35 assists compared with eight turnovers.
After a game when Ben Simmons’ three-pointer got most of the attention, one of the other big stories this preseason is how the bench will shape up.
Brown will continue to experiment with different combinations throughout the Sixers’ next four preseason games, and the evaluations will be easier since those four opponents are all NBA teams.