It had been a tough end to the season for Washington product Matisse Thybulle. In his third season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Thybulle started 50 times. He was part of one of the strongest five man lineups once James Harden was acquired in Feb. He stepped up and filled the Ben Simmons void rather well considering the team’s trying circumstances.
But because he wasn’t sufficiently vaccinated to play in Canada, he was ultimately demoted to a reserve role for the playoffs as Danny Green got the start. And that change, along with increased competition, seemed to dramatically curtail his overall impact.
So after a difficult end to the season it must be a tremendous feeling for the 25 year-old to be acknowledged in this way for his elite defensive prowess. According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice Thybulle was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team, again.
Matisse Thybulle was named to the NBA's All-Defensive second team— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) May 21, 2022
Shams Charania of The Athletic posted the full squads:
2021-22 NBA All-Defensive teams:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 21, 2022
First team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mikal Bridges, Rudy Gobert, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marcus Smart
Second team: Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Matisse Thybulle, Robert Williams III
Back in 2020-2021, Thybulle earned the same honors, alongside his teammate Joel Embiid:
The 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive Second Team:— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) June 14, 2021
Matisse Thybulle pic.twitter.com/KCblnUZN8E
Embiid, who led the NBA in scoring this season, and finished as the runner up MVP in consecutive seasons, might be considered a snub here. But the team, missing Simmons for most of the year, asked Joel to step up offensively more than anything. Once the playoffs rolled around, it was apparent Embiid had been saving a whole other gear defensively, which he brought out when it mattered the most; at least before injuries hampered his willingness to bang.
Thybulle averaged 5.7 points, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks in 25.5 minutes per game this season. He finished second only to Gary Payton II of the Warriors in steals per 36 minutes, with 2.8. He finished 21st in blocks per 36 with 1.5.
His masterpiece against Steph Curry earlier this season was a remarkable feat:
Earlier in the week Thybulle’s name made the rounds because there was a report that the Chicago Bulls were interested in acquiring him via trade.
Bulls interested in acquiring Matisse Thybulle from 76ers, per reporthttps://t.co/Mx5JLsu0Fp— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) May 20, 2022
With Danny Green set to miss the majority of the upcoming season, and his contract status up in the air, Thybulle, if he isn’t traded, might feel some pressure to provide a two-way impact his team can rely upon.
“The players who are sort of extreme one-way-type players, it’s challenging in the playoffs,” Daryl Morey offered about Thybulle at exit interviews. “I think for Matisse his mission which he knows, is how can he improve in ways that makes him someone that can make more of an impact in the playoffs. I think he will in the future.”
According to his head coach, Thybulle knows what’s at stake. He shot 31 percent from distance, and that allowed the Miami Heat to essentially ignore him in the half court and double team his teammates. He improved as a cutter this season, but he’ll need to take the next step and improve his shooting mechanics if he wants to become a (very wealthy) three-and-D type.
“He’s working on it. I can tell you that,” Rivers said. “It is difficult. One way players are better in the regular season than the playoffs. I think we all know that, but Matisse is putting in the time. We hired the right resources, as far as staffing, shooting coaches and everybody, and more importantly, the right resource with Matisse is his work ethic. He’s putting in the work.”
If the Sixers were open to trading Thybulle, they’ll now have one more item on his resume to point to. If they don’t perhaps earning this merit can give him confidence to continue to do what it takes to earn more playing time.
Thybulle is eligible for extension this summer as well. He’s one of the more intriguing players to keep an eye on, as Morey was reportedly very reluctant to part with him in any trades at the deadline.