(Largely) gone are the days of questioning if the former Washington Huskie was still in Doc Rivers‘ plans after failing to generate many minutes during the preseason or worse, mocking the 24-year-old in trades to everyone from the Kings to the Rockets as part of a trade for volume shooting, and in its place, we’ve transcended into a new-era of Thybulle appreciation, fresh with new nicknames, a collection of new memes, and a brand new Red Bull-commissioned mural in Fishtown on the side of Garage.
Simply put, if you liked Thybulle heading into the 2020-21 NBA season, you probably love him now, and if you weren’t a fan, you’ve all but surely come around.
However, there’s one gripe about Thybulle’s game that will all but surely haunt him for the foreseeable future no matter how many steals he averages per 36 minutes: His offensive output.
I don’t know if Thybulle is afraid to shoot the ball because he thinks it won’t go in or because he’s a team player and always wants to set up a teammate for a better look, but it’s incredibly rare to see a player in a playoff rotation who is averaging 3.1 points per game on 3.2 field goals per game, especially if said player is listed as a shooting guard – a position typically associated with, ya know, shooting the ball (duh).
But hey, let’s not get too down on the recent Birthday boy. Thybulle doesn’t need to become the next James Harden to become a long-term starter for the Philadelphia 76ers; he just needs to become Danny Green.
If Matisse Thybulle can just average 10 ppg, he’ll be a Philadelphia 76ers mainstay.
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In 2009, the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted a 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of UNC by the name of Danny Green.
Though he’s never been named an All-Star and has only been selected to one All-NBA team – a spot on the 2016-17 All-Defense team – Green has remained gainfully employed and constantly in-demand by championship-caliber teams for his ability to play fantastic perimeter defense both on and off the ball while draining open shots from beyond the arc.
Green has averaged 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and a steal a game over 724 regular season games and has been paid handsomely for his services to the tune of just under $82 million.
Whether you appreciate Green for his status as an egoless fifth starter or roll your eyes every time he subs into the game for a more dynamic offensive option like Shake Milton, there are way worse options to fill out a starting lineup than a three-time NBA champion who hosts the “Inside the Green Room” podcast in his spare time.
In essence, that’s really all Matisse Thybulle has to be to have a Green-esque career with a bit of wiggle room to accommodate for his unique style of play.
From a physical standpoint alone, Thybulle and Green have remarkably similar athletic profiles. Both are 6-foot-5, have wingspans of 6-foot-10 or greater, and have exhausted all four years of their college eligibility before entering their respective names for draft considerations.
While neither were particularly offensive-minded coming out of college, as the duo averaged roughly 9.3 points per game, both were ultimately drafted for their defensive fortitude with the hopes that they would develop into complete players after some NBA seasoning.
If you can believe it, Thybulle actually made seven more 3s over his time at Washington than Green did at UNC, even if he took 43 more attempts to get there and was considered a more complete offensive prospect coming into the league.
The difference is, by the time Green played his 100th NBA game, he was averaging 10.5 points while draining 43.6 percent of his 3.5 3 pointers a game, while Thybulle has actually seen his average shots and points drop from his rookie to sophomore season.
Now granted, Green appeared in 28 games over his first two professional seasons and was waived by both the Cavs and the Spurs before finally finding a home in Gregg Popovich‘s rotation. No one expected much from the New York native coming into the league, and his development was unexpected enough that he received votes for Most Improved Player in 2011.
Thybulle, by contrast, is playing 20 minutes on the reg and has become a fixture of Doc Rivers’ game-closing lineups when he needs to shut down opposing wingers.
Heck, Rivers has even weaved in some 2-3 zone from time to time, the very scheme that allowed Thybulle to average 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks-per-game during his senior season at Washington. If that doesn’t scream “immediate contributor”, then I don’t know what does.
On another team in a more developmental situation, Thybulle’s defensive theatrics would be lauded even if he doesn’t attempt a single shot per game, but when the Sixers’ bench puts up sub-20 points with regularity, there is always going to be a part of any honest fan who wishes “Matheif” would throw up a few more 3s.
But hey, it’s not like Thybulle doesn’t have opportunities to get there; he just needs to take them.
By the time Green really came into his own in 2011-12, he was attempting 7.2 shots from the field and 3.5 3 pointers per game. If Thybulle can just match those numbers, there’s little reason to believe he too couldn’t average eight points and elevate the Sixers’ bench output considerably.
Remember, the difference between the best scoring offense in the NBA – the Nets – and the Sixers’ spot at 10th is only 6.4 points per game, so getting five more points out of Thybulle a night could be just what the doctor ordered to give the team the necessary firepower to hang with the best while maintaining their two-way prowess.
As a Sixers/Thybulle fan, I’d love to see it.
After some early false starts and initial speculation, it’s clear Matisse Thybulle is one of the Philadelphia 76ers’ eight best players. He’s capable of playing the best defense this side of Ben Simmons and lead the league in steals per 36 minutes. If Thybulle continues to be a nothing burger on offense, he will still surely remain a fixture of the Sixers moving forward and could potentially even fetch a decent return if made available via trade. But if Thybulle can just inch his averages up to around 8.5 points while hitting 37 percent of his 3 point shots, well, then we could be looking at the Sixers’ long-term fifth starter for years to come, filling a very similar role to Danny Green in San Antonio, Toronto, and LA.