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Matisse Thybulle Is A ‘Rare Combination Of Length And Athleticism And Brains’

Nobody feels safe putting the ball in the air with Matisse Thybulle on the floor — the shot blocking threat Thybulle provides makes offenses run in circles. But he’s not making his name as someone who hangs out in the paint and swats everything at the rim, as Thybulle has become the rare perimeter player who is knocking every jumper, floater, and even dunk attempt out of the air.

The 24-year-old burst onto the scene as a rookie and made the All-Defensive team last year. In 2021-22, Thybulle has become even more destructive. He and Lonzo Ball are the only players shorter than 6’7 with more than 25 blocks on the season. When Steph Curry came to Philadelphia last week looking to break the NBA’s all-time three-point record, Thybulle held him to 2-for-11 from the field when he was the two-time league MVP’s primary defender and became the first player to block Curry while he was attempting a triple twice in the same game, per ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry.

“He’s a rare combination of length and athleticism and brains,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the Sixers beat Golden State. “He did as good of a job on Steph as anybody I’ve seen in a long time.”

Those who spend the most time around him have nothing but praise when discussing Thybulle’s prowess on the defensive end of the floor. Doc Rivers calls him Inspector Gadget for his ability to recover when a player like Curry gets by him and still block their shot. Sixers star Joel Embiid, who has made clear that he wants to win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, believes Thybulle has a chance to win the award as well, and views him as “probably the best perimeter defender in the league.”

While Thybulle is flattered by that sentiment, his focus is elsewhere.

“Awards are given based off of performance and I perform to win,” Thybulle said. “I don’t perform to acquire accolades. It’s an amazing compliment and it would be an honor, but that doesn’t determine how I’m gonna show up each night to play.”