Philadelphia 76ers: Don’t underrate Matisse Thybulle’s return

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

For the brunt of the offseason, Matisse Thybulle felt like he was living on borrowed time with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Allegedly shopped with the 23rd overall pick to general managers around the league by, well, by every reporter worth their salt, Thybulle survived the association’s draft and the first few waves of free agency and now likely finds himself heading into training camp.

Now, for some people, this is a major-league bummer; they hate Thybulle for his lack of an offensive game and for his decision to only get half-vaxed and thus disqualify himself from playing playoff games north of the border. If you fall into that camp, some of the trades suggested with Thybulle included, most notably one involving Reggie Bullock egged on by Reggie Bullock, sounded very good, both as addition by addition and addition by subtraction but alas, for now at least, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Hey, there’s always the trade deadline, right?

Fortunately, everyone doesn’t fall into that camp, with Daryl Morey believing that Matisse Thybulle might just be the team’s most underrated player heading into the 2022-23 NBA season. Considering he’s the Philadelphia 76ers’ current President of Basketball Operations, that’s a pretty good fan to have in your corner.

Matisse Thybulle is wrongly underrated by Philadelphia 76ers fans.

A lot of people call Matisse Thybulle the best perimeter defender in the NBA but is that really true? Like, are there numbers to back up his reputation?

In a word, yes; yes, there are.

You see, according to FiveThirtyEight, Thybulle ranks eighth in Defensive Raptor rating, which, considering his minutes-per-game averages, is pretty darn good. Of the seven players in front of him, only two, Alex Caruso and Gary Payton II, are guards/wings, and when you factor in Thybulle’s steal/blocking numbers, which are quite literally in a league of their own since no other player in the NBA recorded 115 total steals and 70 total blocks over the course of the 2021-22 NBA season, and you’re left with a crafty performer with a fantastic set of defensive skills.

But wait, it gets better; Among performers with qualifying minutes, Thybulle ranked third in DBPM at a 3.3, ranking just below Giannis Antetokoumpo and directly above Robert Williams. Though his DWS wasn’t quite as impressive, ranking 56th in the association behind many a player with a “2” at the beginning of their minutes played instead of a “1,” Thybulle remains in-league with many of the best defensive players in the NBA where he rightfully belongs.

Still not convinced? Well, allow me to present you with the following graphic made by friend-of-the-blog NBA University via stats produced from Basketball Index.

As you can see, Thybulle is the best passing lane defender in the NBA and the second-best ball screen navigator in the NBA behind former Sixers draftee Jrue Holiday; if that doesn’t scream elite perimeter defender, then I, for one, don’t know what does.

Next. Don’t laugh off the idea of signing Hassan Whiteside. dark

Is Matisse Thybulle an incomplete, dare-I-say “one-way” player? At this point, it’s hard to say anything but yes – I mean, there is a Twitter account called “Did Matisse Thybulle score more than 5 points” for a reason – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t also very good at the things he’s good at. For all of his flaws, Thybulle is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, and the Philadelphia 76ers need him now more than ever to help cover up for their less than defensively elite starting backcourt.