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Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle make NBA All-Defensive teams

Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Three members of the Philadelphia 76ers have made the NBA’s All-Defensive teams for the 2020-21 season. Ben Simmons made the First Team for the second straight season, while Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle made the Second Team.

The Sixers mentioned in their press release sharing the news that this is only the second time the team has had three players named to All-Defensive teams in the same season after Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones and Moses Malone all made it in 1982-83.

As a deserving Defensive Player of the Year finalist, Simmons making the First Team should have always been a lock. He and Rudy Gobert were the only players to receive a First Team vote on every ballot.

Simmons’ defense was better than ever this year. He was even more locked in off the ball and strengthened his claim as the league’s most versatile defender, switching across top opponents at every position better than anyone to lead the Sixers’ perimeter defense. Simmons went into the season with a goal of winning Defensive Player of the Year, and he couldn’t have done much more to make his case.

Embiid may have only played 51 games this season due to injury, but as the backbone of the Sixers’ defense, it’s not too surprising that his elite rim protection for the league’s 2nd-ranked defensive unit and No. 1 seed in the East earned the recognition of voters.

Thybulle making the Second Team is perhaps the biggest achievement here when considering that he only played 20 minutes per game. He made valuable improvements from his rookie year by honing his discipline, reducing his fouls, and becoming even more disruptive as a ballhawk in passing lanes and ridiculous perimeter shot blocker. He averaged career-highs of 1.6 steals (6th in the NBA) and 1.1 blocks per game (21st), ranked 4th in total deflections at 202, and became the first player in NBA history to record at least 100 steals and 70 blocks in a season in under 1,300 minutes.

This season, Thybulle became a truly special, game-changing perimeter defender, and made a monstrous impact at that end of the floor despite limited playing time. He deserved to make a team.

Conversation around the Sixers will quickly shift back to their series against the Atlanta Hawks, but having three players make the league’s All-Defensive teams is an impressive accomplishment.

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