The Boston Celtics selected Washington’s Matisse Thybulle with the 20th pick in the NBA Draft and immediately traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. Thybulle joins one of the more talented rosters in the Eastern Conference, albeit one that will immediately be able to take advantage of his defense and shooting on the wing.
Anyone who watched Washington basketball over the last couple of years knows that Thybulle’s calling card is his defense. While he fit Washington’s zone like a glove, he has the length, lateral quickness, and anticipation to excel in any sort of defensive system. Thybulle is not the sort of bulky forward who can slide between guarding in the post and on the perimeter, but he should be able to guard almost anyone 1-3 at the next level. His leaping ability and basketball instincts will allow him to pick up more blocks than most perimeter players do in the pros.
Although Thybulle isn’t known for his offense, he should be able to do enough to avoid being a liability at that end. He shot at least 36% from three in each of the first three seasons and peaked at 40.5% as a sophomore. He fell to a career-low 30.5% as a senior, but continued to make a decent percentage in catch-and-shoot situations. His free throw percentage oddly yo-yoed from the mid-80s to the low-70s every other year, but the fact that he has the touch to get into the 80s portends the underlying shooting skill to succeed in catch-and-shoot situations at the next level. Thybulle runs the floor well and dunks viciously when he has an opening, which will make him dangerous in transition. He does not excel at putting the ball on the floor or creating scoring chances for others. Still, the NBA salivates over elite perimeter defenders who can shoot over 35% from three. That archetype shows up on many championship squads- think Danny Green on the Raptors.
Prior to the draft, experts mocked Thybulle to go anywhere in the 20s. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic slotted him at 24 to Philadelphia. The Ringer had him at 23 to Utah. ESPN predicted that Golden State would take him at 28 earlier in the week, but bumped him down to Philadelphia at 33 more recently. The Sixers indeed got their man, but gave up assets to take Thybulle on the early side of where he was projected. UW fans will certainly hope that Thybulle finds more brotherly love in Philly than Markelle Fultz and Tony Wroten before him.