76ers' Ben Simmons: Matisse Thybulle Knows He's 1 of NBA's Best Defenders

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2020

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 8: Matisse Thybulle #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers shake hands after a game against the Toronto Raptors on December 8, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

It hasn't taken Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle long to make an impression on the defensive side of the ball. Even his teammates have been impressed with the impact he has on the defensive end. 

On Thursday, Ben Simmons spoke highly of Thybulle while appearing on Reel Talk with Sixers reporter Brian Seltzer:

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

📽 𝚁𝙴𝙴𝙻 𝚃𝙰𝙻𝙺: @BenSimmons25 "Nothing matches Philly." Ben Simmons takes you through the big home game against the Los Angeles Lakers. #PhilaUnite | @budweiserusa https://t.co/MiBOfn4xop

"He's been great. He's willing to learn. Everyone has that kind of rookie bump, as they say. But I haven't really noticed a huge bump with him," Simmons said. "I think he's been very solid overall. He's gotten a lot better, his confidence is getting better and better. Defensively, his confidence is there—he knows he's one of the best defenders in the NBA." 

Thybulle's on-ball defense, quick hands, shot contesting and his instinct for jumping passing lanes to create turnovers have all been incredibly impressive. His 1.4 steals per game are 22nd in the NBA and leads all rookies, while his 2.5 deflections per game are tied for 35th in the NBA, per NBA.com.

His defensive impact has been palpable. With Thybulle on the court, the team gives up 103.6 points per 100 possessions. When he sits, that number jumps to 107.3. 

Tom West @TomWestNBA

Matisse Thybulle played some of the best perimeter defense we've ever seen from a rookie this season. Here are some of his best steals (he averaged 2.6 per 36 minutes) https://t.co/eDP2euPsWJ

The question for Tybulle will be whether he can offer a bigger offensive impact in the future. In 19.5 minutes per game this season, he's averaging just 4.7 points per game, though he is shooting a respectable 35.2 percent from three. 

If he could get that number up to 38-40 percent, Thybulle would give the Sixers the coveted 3-and-D wing teams love to have. 

Regardless, Tybulle's defense makes the Sixers a menace on the defensive end, pairing with the team's other excellent defenders like Simmons, Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson. The Sixers give up just 107.4 points per game, sixth in the NBA. If the NBA are returns this season and the Sixers are able to make a deep postseason run, it will be on the back of that defense.