In a season where many have rallied behind his case to be on the NBA’s all-defensive team, Matisse Thybulle and his defensive prowess have become known to most of the NBA, especially opposing team’s coaches who have to worry about him in their upcoming matchup.
It has been widely discussed how Thybulle could improve on offense to develop into one of the game’s more dangerous players with the addition of a solid perimeter jump shot, but advancements so major are destined to be formed over an offseason.
So as the 76ers enter their final stretch of games before the playoffs, where could Thybulle make effective changes to his game to ensure his spot in the playoff rotation and improve his reputation of one of the league’s youngest standouts.
Thybulle’s length gives him the ability to guard opposing players almost regardless of their position, but we rarely see this translate into rebounds.
Because of his aggressive nature that has rewarded him so much over his short career, Thybulle has a tendency (and likely always will) to jump to block shots in an attempt to get just a finger on the shot attempt.
This leaves Thybulle often the farthest player from the ball after the shot though, given he’s already behind the shooter, and a crucial ability he should attempt to add to his arsenal would be the ability to use his high motor to immediately change direction back toward the basket and crash the board.
If Thybulle can raise his total rebound average from just two a game to a much more serviceable number, he can be more widely used in playoff rotations by head coach Doc Rivers.
Thybulle likely realizes his worth as an effective 3 and D wing if he can combine his naturally talented defensive abilities with an above-average three point shot, and as such has improved his three point percentage from 26% before the All-Star break to 33% since.
If the young defensive minded wing can raise that percentage up to slightly over 35%, his reputation as a liability on offense would almost completely disappear and he would be able to fit in nicely to a rotation in the final moments of a playoff game, when Rivers is looking for defense but doesn’t want it to be at the cost of having shooters around Ben Simmons.
Playing better against Brooklyn
The 76ers most dangerous threat to their chances of reaching the NBA Finals is easily the Brooklyn Nets, who currently hold the first spot in the Eastern Conference and have a roster headlined by All Stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.
Thybulle’s defensive abilities are a real weapon for Doc Rivers and the 76ers when they play the Nets, as he can hold his own guarding any of those three players, but in the three matchups with the team from Brooklyn this season Thybulle has struggled offensively.
In 59 minutes spread throughout three games against the Nets, Thybulle is two for nine from the field and zero for three from behind the arc. Thybulle’s offensive rating against the Nets is only 50 (his second lowest against any team this season, behind only the Timberwolves with 45).
If Thybulle can simply up his game in terms of rebounding and shooting, especially when the Sixers take on the Nets in the future this season (assuming that’s in a best of seven playoff series deep into the summer) the 76ers will be much, much better because of it.