In just his second NBA season, Matisse Thybulle has earned a central role in the 76ers’ defensive identity ahead of the playoffs, and has become a central figure in the All-Defensive team conversation.
But Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ben Simmons says the conversation shouldn’t end there.
Thybulle’s head coach agrees.
“I think he has the potential to be the best defender in the league,” Joel Embiid said Feb. 18.
Looking ahead at the Sixers’ upcoming playoff run, Rivers believes Thybulle will continue to contribute, on both ends of the floor.
“He’s been huge,” Rivers said May 15. “He’s like a relief pitcher in some ways. You throw him in to get stops, and that’s what he does. He’s gotten better offensively as well, and that’s going to be key for us in the playoffs.”
Thybulle finished the regular season third in the NBA in total steals (105) behind only Jimmy Butler (108) and T.J. McConnell (128). Butler and McConnell each played over 400 more minutes than Thybulle did this season.
Thybulle’s 1.6 steals per game were good for 8th in the NBA, despite averaging 20.0 minutes per game.
Level the playing field, and Thybulle led the league in steals per 36 minutes (2.9) and steals per 100 possessions (3.9).
Thybulle also topped the league in blocked jump shots and floaters (53), and paced the league in deflections per 36 minutes (5.6).
His 1.1 blocks per game were good for 17th in the NBA. He was the only guard in the top 43.
He was 13th in the NBA in blocks per 36 minutes (2.0), and the only non-center in the top 22 players in that category.
“When you play defense like that, you can niche out an amazing career for yourself,” Rivers said.
But Thybulle’s standout season also transcended the rankings.
Partnering with the Sixers and Red Bull, Thybulle raised $26,250 for local court renovations ($250 per steal) with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
As Thybulle and his teammates prepare for the playoffs, those donations will continue - graduating to $500 per steal in the playoffs.
Redbull and the Sixers announced the initiative on March 4, when a mural of Thybulle was unveiled in Fishtown.
Local artist and muralist Gloss Black will be selling prints of the Thybulle mural starting May 18 here. The sales will be donated directly to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.