76ers’ Matisse Thybulle: the Aussie thief becoming an NBA cult hero

in basketball •  2 months ago 

The Philadelphia 76ers became relevant in Australia ever since 2x All-Star Ben Simmons was drafted with the #1 pick in 2016.

Down under, Sixers NBA gear is ranked as fourth most popular and Simmon’s jersey ranks second, behind only LeBron James.

When it comes to the Aussie connection with the Sixers, it doesn’t stop with Ben Simmons for who we can proudly call as one of our own.

Meet Matisse Thybulle.

The dual Aussie-American citizen grew up in Sydney where he spent seven years of his childhood.

The Sixers picked Thybulle up with the 20th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, trading up with the Celtic’s in exchange for the 24th and 33rd picks. 

Philadelphia was in desperate need of somebody who could immediately contribute on the defensive end following a second-round playoff lost to the Raptors in the 2018-19 season. 

Thybulle was crowned the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year two years running, in both his junior and senior years of college while at the Washington Huskies.

He has already begun to make inroads in the NBA with his stellar defensive play. His stealthy thieving has already risen him to cult hero status as a rookie with the Philly faithful.

Box scores won’t capture the full impact Thybulle has had this season ; 4.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game across an average of 19.5 minutes. 

Thybulle ranks 63rd in D-PIPM in the league (+1.23) and third among all rookies, behind only Darius Bazley (+1.84) and Cody Martin (+1.30).

Related: PIPM proves Doncic offensive king, Trae Young defensive liability and Rozier is hella overpaid!

Thybulle’s on-ball steals, lightning interceptions and sneaky blocks have fast become his trademark and his dynamic ability on defense has given him the ability to become an essential role player for the Sixers.

“Matisse Thybulle is moving forward. “I like the way that he is trending.”, Sixers coach Brett Brown said late last year

He is even handy from deep, shooting at 35% beyond the arc from 142 total attempts. 

The beginning of Thybulle’s ‘hero’ status all began on the very first night of the season, where he restricted Boston’s new weapon Kemba Walker to 4-of-18 from the field.

He also deflected four passes, two steals and two blocks in a performance which prompted coach Brown to call him a “reckless thief.”

“I’ve not seen a rookie come in with his defensive skills, and that’s impressive,” Sixers teammate Tobias Harris added. “The only guy I would say is Kawhi [Leonard].”

Coach Brown continued his admiration for Thybulle: “He’s arguably the best I’ve ever coached at such a young-age. He’s a reckless thief. He’s incredibly unique & going to get better.”

Watch Thybulle’s thieving skills on full display as he intercepts a pass from Mike Conley, finishing it by lobbing the ball to fellow Aussie Ben Simmons who slammed the alley-oop down with authority.

For fans of the Boomers, he’s likely to play for the Aussies. “My Australian passport is up to date, my citizenship is still active”, Thybulle said in late February.

He’s also a shot at playing for the Boomers at the Tokyo Olympics. “It’s really exciting they have my back [the Boomers] and they want me to play and be a part of it”.

Matisse is one to watch in the future and with his on-court IQ only going to increase as he sees more minutes on the court, he’ll be locking down a lot more than just Kemba Walker. 

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►About Me
I loves sports, but I ain’t flexin’. I’m just an amateur sports writer inspired by US and UK sports culture across the NBA, NFL, world soccer, sports trading cards and more. I’m not a pretender, it’s my hobby and if I sound like I’m half street/half corporate that's what I'm going for. Peace out fam.

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