The Orlando restart feels like a new season for Matisse Thybulle.
Since getting drafted 20th overall by the 76ers just over a year ago, Thybulle has learned, grown, and succeeded - and he’s taking that growth into this new phase of play.
“It definitely feels like a second season,” Thybulle said before Friday’s practice. “I feel like I have a good foundation of the 50 or 60 games that I was actually able to play in, to carry over into [the restart], and just keep rolling with.”
Just over a week into the Sixers’ tenure in Orlando, Brett Brown says Thybulle has made a strong impression.
“Matisse has been incredibly disruptive defensively,” Brown said. “You just feel like his presence keeps people on their toes. He’s just been so elite.”
Known for his defensive skills since his days at Washington, Thybulle has lived up to his reputation as a rookie, leading all first-year players in total steals (80) and steals per game (1.4).
Among all NBA players averaging at least 1.4 steals per game, Thybulle averaged the fewest minutes per game (19.5).
“Across the board, as a defender, you want everyone you match up against to have to respect you,” Thybulle said.
Thybulle added that playing alongside elite teammates - on both sides of the ball - all season has helped him prove himself on the biggest stages:
“I’m lucky enough to have All-Stars on our team who I get to go up against every day. To be earning their respect helps me to take that confidence and carry it over into games.”
In Orlando, Brown says Thybulle has grown as a rebounder, particularly on the offensive glass.
“We really encourage him to go get offensive rebounds, so he’s had some spectacular plays there going to the offensive boards,” Brown said. “He’s really started this camp extremely well.”
Thybulle believes the 57 games he played in prior to the hiatus have proven formative as he approaches his first NBA playoff run.
“Coming in, I would go for every single steal I thought I could get, and I would a lot of times put myself and our guys in tough positions,” Thybulle said. “I think [I’ve] evolved in the sense of just being more under control. Being more calculated with the risks that I take, and being able to weigh that out better.”
During the hiatus, while Thybulle’s access to basketball training was limited, he focused on strengthening his mental game.
“In terms of what I’ve been able to improve on, I think it’s been completely on the mental side of the game,” Thybulle said. “A lot of that’s come through mindfulness, meditation, I did a lot of yoga, and dove into reading more. I think those things have been an area I’ve grown a lot.”
A New Creative Outlet
Since arriving in Orlando, Thybulle launched his “Welcome to the Bubble” video series, which is entirely filmed and edited by the rookie himself. The series has gained considerable traction.
“Coming into this situation, knowing how many eyes we’re going to be on it, and finally feeling like enough pressure to go through and get over my discomforts - whether it’s being in front of the camera, or putting myself out there like that - I felt like this was a good opportunity to just see what happens, just go for it,” Thybulle said.
His teammates, heavily featured in the series, are on board too.
“I think it’s going to be a fun way for all of us to look back on this experience, and have these really cool memories,” Thybulle said.
Explore Thybulle’s YouTube channel here.