Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle is in historically good company

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

When the Philadelphia 76ers traded up with the Boston Celtics to draft Matisse Thybulle, they knew he’d be good, who could have predicted a historically good rookie campaign?

Did you happen to catch the Philadelphia 76ers‘ Monday afternoon, MLK Day matinée upheaval of the Brooklyn Nets? My goodness, what a fun game. The offense was rolling, the defense handily dismantled Kenny Atkinson‘s pick and roll offense, and Ben Simmons put together one of his best games as a pro.

Was it a perfect outing? Well, no, the team still shot below NBA average from the 3 point line, and somehow allowed Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to score nine points coming off the bench – a game that should surely earn the ex-Sixer another 10-day contract – but all in all, it’s nice to see our boys riding high on a four-game winning streak not too far removed from a four-game losing streak.

All is right in the world, thanks in no small part to Matisse Thybulle.

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Filling out the team’s starting five for the fourth straight game, Thybulle brought his undefeated streak to six on the season in games where he earned the nod at the opening tip. Call it luck, call it a fluke, but whatever you do, don’t call Brett Brown and ask him to change things up – at least until Joel Embiid and his ailing finger are back up and… bending(?).

Why? Easy, Thybulle is playing like a grizzled vet on the defensive side of the ball.

Starting in a three-guard lineup alongside Simmons and Josh Richardson, presumably at the big guard position, Thybulle did pretty much everything against the Kyrie Irving-less Nets, blocking shots, rebounding the ball, and most importantly, picking off full-court passes like he’s Timothy John McConnell.

45 games into the season, Thybulle has racked up 51 steals, 45 assists, 55 rebounds, and 32 blocks in only 687 minutes of action. While none of those numbers appear particularly impressive when compared to the flashy numbers up by, say, a flashy 3 point shooter, it’s virtually unheard of to find a rookie guard on any team with that unique blend of indiscriminate stat-stuffing.

How unprecedented? Well, assuming we extrapolate those numbers out to a full 82 game season – 92 steals, 82 assists, 100 rebounds, and 58 blocks – we get into pretty rarefied air.

Since the 1973-74 season, the first season the NBA started tracking steals, only nine 76ers players, Simmons, Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel, Chris Webber, Clarence Weatherspoon, Charles Barkley, Jerry Stackhouse, Julius Erving, and Bobby Jones, have accomplished at least that stat line, with only three, Simmons, Noel, and Barkley doing so as a rookies.

To put things into even more context, if things continue on unchanged, Thybulle will have only played 1,564ish minutes during the regular season, by far the least of any player on the list.

Sure, Thybulle’s game could still use a little work, as he’s averaging less than five points a game and is somehow shooting a lower field goal percentage from the field (39.4) than from beyond the arc (40.2), but hey, after watching rookie after rookie succumb to the dreaded Sixers curse, any production, let alone historic production, is a massive plus.

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Simply put, it’s not hyperbole to project Matisse Thybulle as a millennial second coming of Andre Iguodala in the not too distant future and if that does, in fact, come to pass, boy howdy, would that be an absolute ‘steal’ for the Philadelphia 76ers. And to think, the Boston Celtics tricked Elton Brand into trading away the 24th and 33rd overall picks for the privilege of drafting him. For once, it’s nice to know we won a trade for a 6-foot-5 guard out of Washington.