Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle is way ahead of schedule

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After thwarting the Toronto Raptors with five 3s, it’s clear Matisse Thybulle is way beyond where the Philadelphia 76ers expected him to be as a rookie.

The Philadelphia 76ers did a bad thing during the 2019 pre-draft process: They televised their infatuation for Matisse Thybulle.

While this isn’t a particularly unique situation – just ask the New Orleans Pelicans – it did create an awkward situation for Elton Brand and company on draft day – at the hand of their most hated rivals the Boston Celtics.

As the ticker ticked(?) on and the draft inched closer and closer to the 24th overall pick, things were looking good for the prospects of getting a second bite at a Washington Huskie, well, product, at least until disaster struck. With the Celtics on the clock at 20, Danny Ainge took a page out of Sam Hinkie‘s book and swiped Thybulle out from under Philly’s nose, only to dangle his rights over Brand for an inflated price – a price he ultimately paid.

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With a steep asking price of the 24th (eventually Ty Jerome) and the 33rd overall pick (Carsen Edwards), Brand locked up his man over selecting a prospect like Kevin Porter, Nassir Little, or Villanova product Eric Paschall.

Through 27 games, it’s clear Brand made the right call.

Appearing in all but one game so far this season, Thybulle has been everything the 76ers could have asked for and more. At the tender age of 22 – ancient for an NBA rookie – Thybulle has thoroughly established himself as a natural man coverage defender, all but silencing any question about his fit outside of a zone scheme.

Thybulle has also remained active around the ball, picking up 34 steals in 24 games – the highest mark of any rookie in the league. While his ballhawking ways have been ever so slightly overshadowed by his teammate Ben Simmons, Thybulle has consistently found ways to pick up additional possessions for the Sixers offense.

Oh yeah, and Thybulle is the 76ers’ second-most effective outside shooter. Despite only taking 2.2 shots from beyond the arc a game, Thybulle is knocking down his attempts at a 44 percent clip, trailing only Raul Neto and Ben Simmons (on four attempts).

But most importantly of all, Thybulle has captured the hearts of the City of Brotherly Love with his enthusiasm, effort, and general wholesomeness. More Keanu Reeves than John Wick, Thybulle has disregarded the typical machismo of an overly confident rookie playing a big role (Kevin Porter Jr. anyone?) and has remained ever humble and even more grateful for the opportunities he’s been afforded. Check out his recent comments after the Sixers’ home win over the Toronto Raptors, a game where he knocked down five 3s:

This man has to be protected at all costs.

Now to be totally fair, Thybulle could use a little more polish on his offensive game, as the rookie has only made 36 field goals on the season, but boy howdy, when Josh Richardson returns to full strength, the Sixers should be able to craft some truly lethal defensive lineups.

Next. Thank the Hive, Mike Scott is finally out of his slump. dark

So in summation, the Philadelphia 76ers’ fanbase should give a big ole ‘Thank You!’ to Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics, as their ill-conceived mind games hand-delivered Matisse Thybulle to our fair city. Based on how their 2019 draft class is shaping out, I’m sure it’s a decision they’ll regret for years to come.