Joel Embiid Says Matisse Thybulle Has Case for NBA DPOY After Defending Stephen Curry

Adam WellsDecember 12, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Matisse Thybulle, right, leaps as he tries to defend against Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, front left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is ready to make the case for one of his teammates as the NBA Defensive Player of the Year after Saturday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

Speaking to reporters following the Sixers' 102-93 victory, Embiid said Matisse Thybulle is the best perimeter defender in the league has what it takes to win the award based on his work guarding Stephen Curry. 

Curry finished the game with just 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting. He made three of 14 attempts from three-point range. 

It's probably not a coincidence that Curry's one hot streak during the game came when Thybulle wasn't guarding him. 

The Warriors star scored nine points in the final 1:45 of the second quarter when Thybulle was on the bench. He made two of his three three-point shots during that stretch. 

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Thybulle held Curry to 2-of-13 shooting and blocked two of shots as his primary defender:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Matisse Thybulle held Stephen Curry to 2-of-13 shooting as the primary defender on Saturday, including 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.<br><br>Thybulle also became the first player to block multiple 3-point attempts by Curry in a single game. <a href="https://t.co/SCbXmV2y3S">pic.twitter.com/SCbXmV2y3S</a>

Curry entered Saturday's game averaging 27.5 points per game and shooting 41.3 percent from three-point range. His 21.4 percent success rate from behind the arc against the Sixers ties his second-worst percentage in a game this season.   

Thybulle's defense was his calling card coming into the NBA. The University of Washington alum is one of two players to win the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award multiple times. (Warriors guard Gary Payton II was the first to do it in 2014-15 and 2015-16.)

Now in his third NBA season, Thybulle has carried that defensive ability into the pros. The 24-year-old was named to the All-Defensive second team last season. 

Per Lauren Rosen of Sixers.com, Thybulle became the 26th player in NBA history to make the All-Defensive team within his first two seasons. 

If Thybulle continues to play at the level he did against Curry, it will certainly be hard to keep him out of the discussion for the Defensive Player of the Year award.