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Philadelphia 76ers Standout Rookie Matisse Thybulle Is Already One of the NBA’s Toughest Defenders


Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Matisse Thybulle


It’s the question I posed to Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle as soon as he sat down.

While vague on paper, he quickly figured out what I was inquiring about. You see, the first time I met Thybulle, we were complete strangers at a party in New York City. We went through the basic introductions before shooting the shit pivoted to previewing the upcoming season. While I must admit the consumption of adult beverages prevent me from transcribing his answer with full accuracy, there was one theme that reverberated throughout the conversation: defense.

This shouldn’t surprise anybody: Thybulle is the reigning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year from the University of Washington and is the second player in PAC-12 history to repeat as the conference’s top defender.

If college basketball isn’t your thing, all you had to do was tune in to one of his performances during the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas to see him wreaking havoc on poor, innocent ball-handlers completely unaware of the mess they had gotten themselves into by putting the ball on the floor within the reach of his seven-foot wingspan.

Many had heard the legend of this defensive prowess, but only few were listening.

Now almost halfway into the 2019-20 NBA campaign, the secret is out. Thybulle has not only become a household name throughout the city of Philadelphia, but is already receiving national recognition for his performances in victory and/or defeat.

With this context provided, we still haven’t gotten any answers. How? How does a 6’ 5” rookie drafted 20th overall impact games this significantly, so quickly, in such different, unique ways?

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