Philadelphia 76ers: Predicting Matisse Thybulle’s next contract

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

While the Philadelphia 76ers still have 50-plus games left on their schedule, the season will be over before we collectively know it.

Will the team take a step forward and finally break their second-round curse off the back of a midseason trade? Will Daryl Morey fail to significantly upgrade the team, and the whole campaign will go down as a marked disappointment? Or could things fall somewhere in-between, and either the big trade happens, and it’s underwhelming, or the team overcomes a lack of trade to do some damage in the playoffs?

All of these options are technically possible, and I, for one, hope this season looks more like 2017-18 instead of 2019-20.

With all of that in mind, the Sixers have quite a few things to monitor over the next few months, from potential trades, to free agent needs and which of their players deserve extensions moving forward. One of those extension-eligible players is Matisse Thybulle, and needless to say, the parameters of his contract will be fascinating to watch due to the sheer uniqueness of his game.

Assuming the Philadelphia 76ers still have Matisse Thybulle on their roster in June, what could his next contract look like?

The Philadelphia 76ers may have to pay up for Matisse Thybulle’s defense.

Alright, so to truly identify a potential contract, typically, one will look around the NBA and try to find analogous players in similar situations.

That, understandably, is tricky to do because of how insanely good Matisse Thybulle is on defense and how insanely not good he is on offense, but it’s not impossible. No, despite their varied individual responsibilities in any given game, there are a few players who fill a similar niche on a similarly-driven team.

With a little help from FiveThirtyEight, I’ve come up with the following modern-day names on second NBA contracts: Marcus Smart, Alex Caruso, and our old pal Danny Green.

So what makes those players comparable to Thybulle? Well, for one, the trio are all good defenders. Caruso, Green, and Thybulle have all been among the best statistical defenders in the NBA over the last three seasons, with Smart offsetting his average Defensive RAPTOR ratings with the good old-fashioned eye test.

Furthermore, all three are what you would call supplemental players, with only Green recording a usage rating of 20-plus over any of the four players’ collective 29 seasons in the NBA.

Now granted, all three of those players – even Smart – are better outside shooters than Thybulle, and both Smart and Caruso bring ball handling to the table, but when you consider just how rare Thybulle’s on-court set of skills are in the modern NBA, evaluating all three should help to paint a clearer picture than any one player specifically.

With all of that in mind, how much are each of those players making, and how will that affect what Thybulle’s agent asks for next summer?

Well, Smart’s contract is worth $76.49 million over four years and was signed in August of 2021. At the time, Boston still had their big two in place, had just traded Kemba Walker for Al Horford, and only had Dennis Schroder as a proven on-roster point guard. Alex Caruso’s contract, similarly signed back in August, is notably less lucrative at $36 million over four years, but that could have to do with his slighter workload in Los Angeles and the fact that he was signed to be a depth piece behind starter Lonzo Ball instead of as a potential starting point guard.

And as for Danny Green? Well you, as a Philadelphia 76ers fan, surely know he signed a two-year, $20 million contract back in August too, and has largely lived up to his contract to this point.

Of the four, Thybulle is by far the youngest player at 24 and has already made an All-Defensive team, which took Green eight seasons to do and Smart five campaigns to accomplish, but again, the three other players were averaging many more than 5.6 points per game.

Thybulle is the only player in the NBA averaging 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, but he’s also one of the few shooting guards or small forwards in the NBA shooting less than 30 percent from 3 – roughly 35- so how much do those two realities cancel each other out?

My educated guess? Thybulle won’t quite reach Green’s average annual figure but should still clock in on a comparable contract to that of Caruso, with maybe a slightly higher AAV depending on the length of the deal.

A four-year, $38 million deal feels just right for what Thybulle brings to the table, has brought to the table, and could still bring to the table in the future.

Next. Passing on Danuel House feels like a mistake. dark

There are some fans of the Philadelphia 76ers who would happily trade Matisse Thybulle for draft capital. They think he’s overrated on defense, hasn’t developed on offense, and just generally is antithetical to how the modern game is played. I am firmly not in that camp. Would I consider trading Thybulle either in a deal with Ben Simmons or in a separate deal that brings back a better-fitting player on the same timeline as Joel Embiid? Most definitely, but I’d be just as happy to have 22 on the roster for the next half-decade, as he’s a really talented young player who is already one of the association’s best defenders with a still-burgeoning offensive game. That, my friends, is the kind of player you bet on and extend to a second contract unless something really intriguing comes along.