BOSTON — The 76ers on Saturday were disappointed that rookie standout Matisse Thybulle was excluded from participating in the Rising Stars game.
“I was surprised,” Al Horford said of Thybulle not getting picked for the first- and second-year player showcase that kicks off the NBA All-Star Weekend. The rosters were announced on Friday.
“I feel like he’s part of a winning team, and he’s having a real impact on a winning team,” Horford said. “I’m disappointed about that. I don’t know how things are going to work out. But I hope they find a way to put him in there because he deserves to be there.”
The Feb. 14 game will pit 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year international players at the United Center in Chicago. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. The All-Star Game is set for Feb. 16.
If you’re an NBA rookie drafted in the top 5 picks, a lot probably has to go wrong for you not to be selected by the league’s assistant coaches for the annual game. As a result, non-lottery picks such as Thybulle are sometimes overlooked, especially if they’re not prolific scorers or sharpshooters.
“I think the group that they have selected is for sure a talented group,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "I’m biased. I see what I see. He’s comes as a starter. Just look at the numbers. I think that he should have been in the game.”
It’s hard to overlook Thybulle’s impact as one of the league’s top young defenders. The team is 8-2 when Thybulle starts and 19-5 when he plays at least 20 minutes. He leads all rookies and ranks 13th in the league in steals at 1.56 per game. He’s also one of the league’s top three-and-D guys, shooting 36.6% on threes.
Horford said defense should get the recognition is deserves when selecting All-Stars and rosters for showcase games.
“Especially with the kind of impact that he’s having with our group,” Horford said, “and with our team and the plays that he makes. He’s a true player. We asked him do certain things, and that’s what he’s doing.
"If he was on a bad team, he would probably be able to do a lot more and have better numbers. So it’s like what are we rewarding, right? So I just hope that he gets in there. He deserves it.”
Deferring offensively to teammates, Thybulle averages 4.9 points and just 4.3 shot attempts per game.
The Rising Stars game will have a local flavor with Golden State Warriors rookie Eric Paschall being selected for the U.S. roster. Meanwhile, first-overall pick Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans was named an injury replacement for second-year Chicago Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. Williamson has played in only five games.
Here are all the rosters:
U.S. roster: Miles Bridges, Charlotte; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago (injured, won’t play); Devonte Graham, Charlotte; Tyler Herro, Miami; Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis; Ja Morant, Memphis; Kendrick Nunn, Miami; Eric Paschall, Golden State; P.J. Washington, Charlotte; Zion Williamson, New Orleans; Trae Young, Atlanta.