Philadelphia 76ers: 2021 is shaping up to be Matisse Thybulle’s year

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

2020 was a pretty good year for Matisse Thybulle.

He averaged 4.47 points, 1.3 steals, and .6 blocks in roughly 20.5 minutes of action a night for the Philadelphia 76ers, closed out his first NBA season in style and even became low-key famous outside of the NBA circles for his very successful Bubble Blog.

Now granted, those numbers are split over two seasons with a 100-plus day sports stoppage layoff sandwiched in between, but for a 22/23-year-old still acclimating to the NBA game and eventually a head coaching swap, Thybulle’s 2020 was encouraging.

But 2021? Yeah, Thybulle has already lapped those numbers and then some.

After being slowly worked into Doc Rivers‘ rotation months removed from a preseason-sidelining injury, Thybulle burst onto the national stage in pretty spectacular fashion. Though his statistical performances didn’t change all that much, with his average steals going up by .3 and his average blocks rising to roughly one a game, Thybulle has already established himself as one of the best wing defenders in the NBA, capable of disrupting ball-handlers at the point of contact and switch onto opposing scorers 1-4.

At the ripe old age of 24, Thybulle was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team and was a steady contributor for the number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference.

And the best part? The second half of Matisse Thybulle’s 2021 calendar year is looking like it’ll be even better than the first.

Momentum is growing for Matisse Thybulle and the Philadelphia 76ers.

More from Section 215

When the Philadelphia 76ers dropped a tear-jerking series to the Atlanta Hawks despite having home court through the entirety of their postseason run, it marked the end of organized basketball for (almost) every member of the team.

Sure, we’ve collectively seen players like Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and Paul Reed take to the gym for some on-court tune-ups, and 2021 Summer League is right around the corner for the Sixers’ young core, but for the most part, the balmy months of July and August are meant to rehab, relax, and reload for the forthcoming season, especially after a campaign that started two months late and inched into late June.

The lone exception? Matisse Thybulle, who went (basically) from the Wells Fargo Center to the Australian national team to prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Playing alongside a host of other NBA players like Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova, and recent Brooklyn Nets signee Patty Mills, Thybulle was one of the game’s overall standouts for his otherworldly disruption abilities, routinely impressive defense, and improved shooting from beyond the arc; helping to push his team all the way to a Bronze medal game versus Slovenia and the team’s first-ever Olympic medal.

Matisse Thybulle: Olympic Bronze Medalist; you know, that has a pretty nice ring to it.

If that was where Thybulle’s story ended, it would be a summer for the ages and the sort of momentum-changer that could propel the young winger towards his elite 3-and-D ceiling, but Daryl Morey did him one better by re-signing Danny Green.

Don’t believe me? Think the return of Green actually limits Thybulle’s ceiling, as it keeps him out of Doc Rivers‘ starting five? Well, allow me to elaborate.

Through the first two years of his NBA career, Thybulle has only started 24 games between the regular season and the playoffs. He’s only played 30 or more minutes 20 times, passed the 20-minute mark in 47 more contests, and has only once scored more than 20 points once in 146 games of action. Is that the player who should be thrust into a high-usage, high-stakes role where he has to sink or swim without a safety net?

No, with Green back in the fray, Thybulle can ease into a more expansive role, continue to shine as a defensive specialist, and maybe, just maybe, become a full-time starter by the time DG14’s contract expires in 2023, if not sooner. If that happens, the Sixers could always trade Green or, ya know, just roll with two of the better disrupting wings in the NBA.

Between you and me, I sort of like that option, especially since Green has been a vocal supporter of Thybulle’s development during their first season together as teammates.

Next. Andre Drummond is an upgrade over Dwight Howard. dark

So, through the first eight months of the 2021 calendar year, Matisse Thybulle has been a steady playoff contributor for the Philadelphia 76ers, was named to the All-NBA defensive team, won a freakin’ Olympic Bronze medal, and has been positioned to succeed with the return of his on-court mentor Danny Green on a two-year, $20 million contract. And the best part? Philly’s favorite former Washington Huskie will be back on the hallowed hardwood of the Wells Fargo Center before we know it, stealing passes, slamming down dunks, and maybe knocking down catch-and-shoot 3s off of Joel Embiid double-teams. That, my friend, sounds like a pretty marquee year.