76ers

After Sixers' trade, Jason Thompson finally winning with Warriors

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After Sixers' trade, Jason Thompson finally winning with Warriors

For 22 days, Jason Thompson was as excited as he had ever been about an upcoming basketball season. After spending the first seven years of his career playing for the often dysfunctional Sacramento Kings, Thompson was headed home.

Born in Camden, New Jersey, and an alum of Lenape High in Burlington County and Rider University, Thompson joined the team he grew up rooting for in the trade that landed the Sixers Carl Landry and Nik Stauskas.

After the initital shock of being traded, to Philadelphia no less, Thompson got right to work. He says he reported to the team’s practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for workouts with his new teammates.

He was in regular contact with coach Brett Brown as he began preparing for the 2015-16 season.

“I was coming in every day and had a great relationship with [Sixers assistant coach] Billy Lange, because his father was my high school coach,” Thompson said.

Then he got another phone call.

“I was more shocked to be traded from Sacramento to Philly and then to never have been traded in seven years to being traded twice in the same month was a little different,” Thompson said. “But it came out pretty good.”

Indeed it did. Thompson was sent to a team on pace to put together the most wins in NBA regular-season history with the Warriors. Not only that, Thompson is a contributor with the 43-4 Warriors, averaging a modest 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game. Against the Sixers on Saturday, Thompson got a rebound, an assist and a basket in 11 minutes (see game story). He was matched up on Jahlil Okafor while big men Andrew Bogut and Marreese Speights took a breather on the bench.

“Everything happens for a reason and this came out pretty good,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely a great situation with a bunch of great guys. I’m learning about a winning atmosphere with a team coming off a championship and I’m learning the ropes a little bit. I’m enjoying the ride.”

Chances are Thompson could see an uptick in playing time over the next few weeks, too. With big man Festus Ezeli out with an injured knee, those minutes will fall to Thompson.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr says those minutes will be well-earned.

“It’s not based on sentimentality, but based on hard numbers with Festus out,” Kerr said. “[Thompson has a] great attitude and he can move. He’s been a starter in this league for a long time so for him to come in and accept his role the way he has, he’s a first-class teammate. Hopefully he’ll get his chance here before too long.”

In the meantime, Thompson is enjoying his only trip back to Philly this season, where he left approximately 90 tickets for family and friends.

2020 NBA schedule: Sixers set to play 3 scrimmages before season resumes

2020 NBA schedule: Sixers set to play 3 scrimmages before season resumes

The NBA on Saturday released its scrimmage schedule for the 22 teams participating in the league’s restart in Orlando. 

The Sixers are set to play three scrimmages:

July 24, 3:30 p.m. — Grizzlies
July 26, 12 p.m. — Thunder
July 28, 8:30 p.m. — Mavericks

The scrimmages are intended to serve as a final ramp-up into the resumption of the season. The Sixers, who began holding mandatory individual workouts at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, starting on Wednesday, are scheduled to arrive at Disney World next Thursday.

Brett Brown said Wednesday he’d like his team to be at a “B” fitness base that he can help improve to an “A” by the time seeding games start. It’s been challenging for many players to stay in shape because of restrictions related to the coronavirus. Matisse Thybulle, for one, said Thursday he doesn’t like running but it was his “only choice.”

"It’s obviously not basketball-type conditioning,” Thybulle said, “but it kept me at a cardio fitness level to where now that we’ve come back and started, and I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, I have a really solid baseline to build off.”

The hiatus has allowed Ben Simmons to recover from the back injury that sidelined him for the Sixers’ last eight games, and Simmons noted he's added muscle and feels more explosive.

Al Horford also said, “I probably wasn’t where I wanted to be this season” in terms of health, and that the time off has been helpful for him. 

Below is the Sixers’ schedule for the final eight games:

Aug. 1, 7 p.m.: Indiana
Aug. 3, 8 p.m: San Antonio
Aug. 5, 4 p.m.: Washington
Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m.: Orlando
Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m.: Portland
Aug. 11, 4:30 p.m.: Phoenix
Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Toronto 
Aug. 14: Houston 

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How bubbly Matisse Thybulle is taking things in stride during bizarre rookie year

How bubbly Matisse Thybulle is taking things in stride during bizarre rookie year

Matisse Thybulle was his usual bubbly self Friday. The Sixers’ rookie literally hopped — like he actually jumped into his seat — on a video conference call with reporters. He signed off by calling all of us nerds.

The 2019 first-round pick was having a standout first season before play was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Though his playing time had fluctuated, head coach Brett Brown said earlier in the season that he was grooming the young wing for the playoffs.

Still, Thybulle won’t take anything for granted as the team prepares to leave for the Disney World “bubble” next week.

“For me, every time I get out on the court, it’s a challenge to maintain, to keep my spot on the team,” Thybulle said. “And then with keeping the spot, you can never be stagnant.”

On opening night, Thybulle was asked to defend All-Star guard Kemba Walker. Walker had given the Sixers problems in the past and the rookie didn’t get off to a great start, committing two quick fouls. As the game went on, Thybulle settled in and showed the defensive prowess the Sixers drafted him for.

All season long, Thybulle has done well to take things as they come during a bizarre rookie year. He’s planning to take that same mentality to Florida.

Nobody really knows what’s going to happen," Thybulle said, "nobody really knows what to expect, or how things are going to go, or what anybody or any team looks like. Instead of setting expectations for myself or what I think the experience is going to be like, it’s been just trying to take each new step of this process as a new challenge, and then figuring out, when I get there, how I’m going to get through it.

"If you want to look at all the unknowns, you’ll just go crazy. Taking what I know and what I can control and trying to make the best out of that.

What we know about Thybulle is he has a propensity for disruption on the defensive end. He leads all rookies in steals — by a healthy margin — and is fifth in blocks. He’s one of only eight players in the NBA to have at least 80 steals and 40 blocks.

In order to get so many deflections and wreak havoc defensively, you need to be in top shape. If you’ve seen Thybulle’s Tik Tok adventures from early in the quarantine, you know that he lives in a small apartment and didn’t have the opportunity to keep up with basketball activities.

So, he turned to the only form of exercise he thought could help — even if he didn’t enjoy it.

“I don’t like running. I really don’t like it,” Thyulle said. “But through the quarantine, it was like my only choice. ... It’s obviously not basketball-type conditioning, but it kept me at a cardio fitness level to where now that we’ve come back and started, and I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, I have a really solid baseline to build off. In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten back into really good shape and I think it’s going to be easier to build on after this.”

Thybulle has been given a bunch of tough assignments this season. While he’s looked like a rookie at times, when he’s kept his fouls down and his three-point percentage up, you see a player that should be able to help come the postseason.

And in a year where nobody knows what the NBA playoffs will be like, it could be to the rookie’s advantage during his first postseason run.

“I think what I’ve heard about the playoffs is a little different than what the playoffs are going to look like this year,” Thybulle said. “Obviously, I’ve heard amazing things. Especially playing in Philly, I’ve heard so many great things about having our fans behind us.

"We’re finding ourselves in a situation where that’s not going to be the case, so I think it’s going to be new for everyone, even vets who have been part of the playoffs, trying to get a feel for what this is going to be like. But I’m open to the challenge and I’m excited for what’s in store.”

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