Matisse Thybulle is a defensive enigma
When the Sixers drafted Matisse Thybulle everyone knew it was for his abilities on the defensive side of the ball, but not many expected him to be this impactful. Now in just in his second season, he has held his own defending the likes of Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and even LeBron James.
Thybulle is truly an enigma in his ability to leave a big impact defensively in his sophomore season. Before Friday's game against the Bulls, I asked Doc Rivers about this and he would also dive into what a rarity he is.
It's rare, especially at the guard position. Mostly you see dominant defenders come into the league they're re usually centers. He just has such great length and speed, great instincts.
After these comments were made Thybulle would go out and hold likely All-Star Zach LaVine to just 2-12 shooting from the floor. One of many instances this season where he has been able to neutralize an opposing team's star player. Rivers would say after the game that Thybulle's defense on LaVine was the "secret sauce" to the Sixers' victory.
When you dive into the numbers Thybulle's defensive brilliance stands out even more. He is one of just five players to have at least 40 steals and 20 blocks on the season and has done it while playing significantly fewer minutes than the other players around him.
Many teams would love to have a perimeter defender like Thybulle for their starting lineup, and the Sixers have the luxury of bringing him off the bench. Per 36 minutes, he is averaging three steals per game and just under two blocks per game.
It may not be talked about enough, but Matisse Thybulle is arguably the biggest X-factor for the Sixers out of the supporting cast. His ability to impact a game on the defensive side of the floor will be necessary when the Sixers face off against the other top teams in the Eastern Conference come the postseason.
Teams like Boston, Milwaukee, and Brooklyn all have multiple threats on the perimeter, and Ben Simmons can only cover so much ground. Having Thybulle on the floor manning the defense with him will be a necessity.
Thybulle still has his shortcomings on offense, but there is no denying he is playing some of the best basketball of his early career on the other end. What he has been able to do as a defender is special for any player, let alone one in their second season.
His lockdown defensive capabilities have been and will continue to be the ace up Doc Rivers' sleeve this season.
Kevin McCormick is the 76ers beat writer for 97.3 ESPN and 76ers editor for Sportstalkphilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMcC973.
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