While Ben Simmons and Rudy Gobert remain neck and neck for NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors, another Philadelphia 76ers player has them beat in a key statistical category. Sixers guard Matisse Thybulle has held opponents to the lowest shooting percentage in the league.
According to StatMuse, players are shooting only 38% when guarded by Thybulle and it ranks as the best mark by any defender who has seen at least 300 shots. The number is roughly five percentage points better than Simmons and six better than Gobert for the 2021 season. Thybulle continues to creep up the defensive ladder, at least in the mind of one lock-down teammate.
“I feel like if he had the same amount of minutes as me, he would be Defensive Player of the Year. Easily. He’s great and he’s getting better,” Simmons said. “Overall, he’s been great and then defensively he continues to get better.”
Defenders who allow the lowest shooting percentage in the NBA:
Matisse Thybulle – 38.0%
Ben Simmons – 41.7%
Rudy Gobert – 42.8%
Thybulle is also:
1st in defensive +/-
1st in steal %
1st in deflections
3rd in defensive rating
9th in total steals
186th in minutes per game
— Josh Reynolds (@JoshReynolds24) April 19, 2021
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Thybulle Shooting Better, Leaving Mark
Thybulle scored 13 points in Monday night’s 107-96 loss to the Golden State Warriors while recording seven rebounds, one assist, three steals and one block. The 24-year-old continues to work on his three-point shot, too, something that could take his overall game to the next level.
Just absurd recovery speed from Matisse Thybulle for the block pic.twitter.com/Ks2Y0MQ2zq
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) April 17, 2021
“Matisse is gonna give you the defense,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “We want him to make the open shots which he’s working his butt off every day, doing straight-line drives. The last four or five games, he’s had those straight-line drives.”
He is shooting 30.5% from deep through 54 games, highlighted by a lethal March when he upped it to 38.2% before enduring a cold April (27.3%). However, it’s the other areas of the box score where Thybulle has been injecting a serious shot of adrenaline. His 82 steals and 54 blocks make him one of only two players in the NBA (Robert Covington) with at least 80 blocks and 50 steals on the year.
Matisse Thybulle taking off with the steal and windmill. pic.twitter.com/ad6XjfHm1G
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) April 20, 2021
Windmill Dunk Gets Strong Reactions
Thybulle’s impressive steal and breakaway dunk against Golden State received standing ovations across Sixers Twitter. He expertly read an intended pass from Kelly Oubre Jr. to Jordan Poole, tipped it down from the air and raced down the other end for a two-handed windmill slam. The ESPN cameras caught Sixers center Joel Embiid mouthing the words “wow, wow” through a pained face.
After the game, Thybulle told reporters that he had been doing the windmill since his high school days in Washington. He was the 24th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft after perfecting the move in college. And there is visual proof of his high-flying acrobatics.
Matisse Thybulle with the game-winning windmill dunk. Let’s go. pic.twitter.com/yywPag43mD
— Condre3k (@Condre3k) March 14, 2019
“I think we’ve got enough big guns on offense to where my job out there is just to try and compliment them as best I can,” Thybulle said. “I think my role offensively has more or less stayed the same.”
For now, yes. But if Thybulle can turn into an offensive weapon, watch out.