Matisse Thybulle: The next great NBA defender

3 burning questions involving Sixers standout rookie Matisse ...
Via NBC Sports

Matisse Thybulle was a very interesting prospect coming out of the 2019 NBA draft. He was an established defender during his time at Washington University and took home the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks a game. The numbers are great but his instincts were NBA ready and could potentially be the next best defender in the NBA.

All the little things

When a rookie comes into the NBA, they usually have some learning curves about defense. Whether if it is when to switch on a pick and roll or when to keep hands up, some of the more intricate details are sometimes not present with rookies. However, that is not the case with newcomer Matisse Thybulle.

Thybulle has shown veteran levels of defense in only his first season. He knows when to switch, when to go over or under a screen and stay with his man. In a game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thybulle was causing a lot of problems for all-star point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is usually able to breakdown his defender but had trouble when being guarded by the rookie. Anytime that a screen would be called, Thybulle would find a way to get back onto Irving and continue to make life difficult


Not only dealing with screens but he shows many hustle plays. Many times Thybulle will exert so much energy when playing defense that the energy will bounce back on the team. A loose ball, stripping the ball away or intensity sparks immediate attention to detail on the defensive side of the court. There is always a way Matisse Thybulle will find the right play and decision to make on defense

Size and Versatility

Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle shaping up to be NBA's top ...
Via NBC Sports

There is an infamous saying that no one can teach size. Well that certainly applies to the new defensive monster Matisse Thybulle of the 76ers. Standing at 6’5 with a 7’0 wingspan, the defensive rotations and switch ability is certainly endless. Thybulle so far has been able to guard point guards through small forwards and even some shorter power forwards. The ability to have a player capable of guarding almost every position is almost necessary to succeed in the NBA today.

So far in his rookie season, Thybulle averages 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks in only 19 minutes a game. For a 36 minute average, he would be averaging close to his college numbers putting up 2.6 steals and 1.3 blocks. The 7’0 wingspan is a huge attribute to his collection of steals and blocks during the season. Although the numbers tell a good story, how he uses his size is truly remarkable for a rookie.

Thybulle knows how to position his body to get a good contest on a shot or coming away with the ball. Many times he will be put on the best player of the opposing team and has proven how good of a defender he is, this early into his career. He held Kyrie Irving to only 1 point while going 0-2 shooting and he held Walker to 4-18 shooting in the season opener against the Boston Celtics. As his career continues to go on, Matisse Thybulle will become the next great defender due to his size, versatility and his defensive IQ.

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