In New Picks, Team Lands Prospects Who Check Key Boxes

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

The 76ers said all along they were looking for a prospect with a mature game, someone capable of not only defending, but also spacing the floor.

On Thursday night, the Sixers got what they were looking for in Matisse Thybulle.

To acquire Thybulle, the club moved up four spots in the first round to no. 20. In turn, they sent the rights to the 24th and 33rd picks to the Boston Celtics.

"We went and got a player we really wanted," said Sixers General Manager Elton Brand. "[He's] the top defensive wing in the draft, and that's what I really wanted to improve on."

In four seasons at the University of Washington, Thybulle indeed proved to be one of the top stoppers in the country. His resume features back-to-back National Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019, and he led the NCAA last season with a Pac-12 record-setting 126 steals.

Thybulle also tied the Huskies' all-time blocks mark, with 186. According to Basketball - Reference.com, he boasted the 10th-best defensive rating in the nation.

"They're a talented group with great coaching," Thybulle said Thursday about the Sixers. "I'm just really, really excited and grateful to be part of it."

While defense may have become Thybulle's collegiate calling card, he also demonstrated a steady shooting stroke during his 135-game regular season career at Washington. The 22-year old knocked down 191 3-point field goals, while converting 35.8% of his total perimeter attempts.

By all accounts, Thybulle seems to check the character box, too. His selection Thursday marked a triumphant moment.

"I don’t think any of it’s really set in yet," Thybulle said. “Right now, I’m trying to convince myself I’m not dreaming.”

"He's been through a lot in his young life," said Brand. "Great human being, great person, very intelligent. He's a great young man. That kind of resilience, Philly's going to love him."

Heading into the draft, Brand and the Sixers had been transparent about their intents. They wanted to land at least one player who could potentially step into the rotation right away.

Thybulle believes he can be that guy. So do the Sixers.

"I definitely plan on coming in and contributing, I don't see why not because defense translates," said Thybulle. "For me defense is effort, and I can bring effort day in and day out. Three-point shooting comes naturally to me, and I think that will be a big assets with all the scorers we have."

Later Thursday evening, after getting the rights to Thybulle, the Sixers chose Marial Shayok with the 54th pick. The Iowa State product had a breakout senior campaign, exploding for 18.7 points per game and 71 3-pointers in a featured role.

"I'm very pleased with the draft," Brand said. "We got two players who really fit our culture, really can grow into this, and be part of us as we make this push."

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