Should the Sixers Try Out Matisse Thybulle At Center?

OLYMPICS: AUG 05 Olympics Tokyo 2020
TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 05: Matisse Thybulle of Team Australia looks on during the Men’s Basketball Semifinal match between USA and Australia on Day 13 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 05, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)

Matisse Thybulle is not only the best wing defender on the Sixers but in the entire league and it’s not particularly close. If anyone deserves Defensive Player of the Year or at least more consideration, it should be Thybulle. At this point, Thybulle is averaging 1.8 steals per game and 1.1 blocks per game in only 25.9 minutes per game. He is tied for third in the NBA in terms of steals per game, with only Chris Paul (1.9) and Dejounte Murray (2.1).

Thybulle is also tied for 17th in the league in blocks per game. He is also the only guard in the league in the top 35 of blocks per game, and one of three wing defenders in the top 35, with the others being LeBron James and ex-Process Sixer and current Clipper Robert Covington. Thybulle is the only player in the NBA that is in the top 10 of steals per game and top 25 in blocks per game.

Thybulle is the most versatile defender in the league, and it’s not close. He has shown time and time again his ability to defend all 5 positions effectively. He has the quickness to cover anyone on the perimeter, the strength and vertical to contest big men shots, and the basketball IQ to read any pass on the floor with enough speed to tip it and generate a turnover. The only reason Thybulle doesn’t get more attention for Defensive Player of the Year is because of his position. This fact, along with DeAndre Jordan’s play at the position, has caused many fans to request the Sixers pass backup center minutes to Matisse Thybulle.

Looking at the history of the NBA, centers are typically tall. This is the biggest knock on Matisse Thybulle at the center position. Standing at a lanky 6’5”, Thybulle is ridiculously undersized for the position. The average height of an NBA center is 6’10”. However, looking at the history of the NBA, there have been many impactful smaller centers. Wes Unseld Sr., Chuck Hayes, and, most recently, PJ Tucker on the Harden era Rockets. Each player brought a different skill set to their team, but they all had one common denominator: a defensive impact.

Matisse has a massive impact on the defensive side of the ball. See the first paragraph. No player comes close to the Sixers to those stats. Thybulle has shown day in and day out that he is able to defend any player on the court, something DeAndre Jordan can’t do. His elite mix of athleticism and intelligence is what makes him the best defender in the league. There is no downside to the Sixers at least trying Matisse out as the backup 5.

Best case scenario, the Sixers get a cheat code to finally fix their second unit. Worst case scenario, Thybulle is just as bad at center as DeAndre Jordan was against the Nuggets, and he moves back to being an elite perimeter defender. However, for this to happen, Doc has to both trust a young player, which is not likely (sorry, Paul Reed, Charles Bassey), and change his rotations, neither of which are likely. Until then, it will just be a pipe dream that lives in the hearts of many Sixers fans.

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