Matisse Thybulle, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid All-Defense

76ers' Defensive Trio Stands Out Among the Best

A Closer Look At 76ers' All-Defensive Team Selections Simmons, Embiid and Thybulle
by Matt Murphy

The NBA announced Monday that Ben Simmons (First Team), Joel Embiid (Second Team) and Matisse Thybulle (Second Team) earned All-Defensive Team honors.

The 76ers were the only team in the NBA to have three players recognized. It’s the second time in franchise history that the Sixers have had three players named to All-Defensive teams in the same season, with the trio of Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones and Moses Malone doing so in 1982-83.

In a 2020-21 regular season that saw the Sixers finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 49-23 (.681), there were steals, blocks and deflections galore.


On Jan. 6 vs. Washington, Embiid added three steals and three blocks to his 38 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He became the first 76er to post at least those totals in a single game since Hall of Famer Julius Erving in 1983.

Six days later, Embiid swiped a career-high five steals against Miami. He scored 45 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

Simmons and Thybulle finished the month in style on the defensive end.

Some of Simmons’ most memorable steals and hustle plays of the season came during this stretch. And in a 119-110 win at Indiana on Jan. 31, he and Thybulle really locked things down.

The duo finished the game with four steals and two blocks apiece.


Feb. 19 marked another historic outing for Embiid.

The big man posted a career-high 50 points with 17 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks against the Bulls. Embiid became the first player ever to post such a stat line, since steals and blocks were first tracked in 1973-74.

It was the first of his two four-block outings during the campaign.


This season, Thybulle collected a season and career-high-tying five steals on two occasions, including in the March 11 win at Chicago.


A unanimous selection for this year’s All-Defensive First Team, Simmons produced a five-steal game against New Orleans on April 9, giving him eight such games for his career.

The next day, Embiid posted his other four-block game of the season in the win at Oklahoma City.

Two weeks later, also against the Thunder, the Sixers totaled an NBA season-high 22 steals. They were the only team with at least 20 steals in a game this season.

Thybulle’s April also included a five-block, four-steal performance in a home win over Atlanta.

And plenty of other highlights down the stretch.

Three of the NBA’s top-10 defensive standouts play in Philadelphia.

And they’re three of the five youngest players on the list.

Wednesday’s Game 5 between the 76ers and Hawks is a 7:30 p.m. start in Philadelphia.

Related Links

Simmons, Embiid, Thybulle Named to NBA All-Defensive Teams

Thybulle Primed for Playoff Impact, on and off the Floor

Inside the Process | A 76ers Podcast About Joel Embiid, Narrated by Julius Erving 


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