The Philadelphia 76ers successfully completed a trade with the Boston Celtics to acquire the draft rights to guard/forward Matisse Thybulle in Thursday night's NBA Draft.
The trade involved the Sixers giving up picks No. 24 (Ty Jerome) and 33 (Carsen Edwards) for the rights to draft Thybulle with pick No. 20.
Deal is agreed on -- and Sixers will send Boston Nos. 24 and 33 in this draft, league sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/XM7bHrkNH7— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 21, 2019
"I don't think any of it's really set in yet," Thybulle said, via an article written on the 76ers' website by Brian Seltzer, after getting drafted on Thursday night. "Right now, I'm trying to convince myself that I'm not dreaming."
Thybulle is a player who specializes in playing defense while also bringing along a developing offensive game. He was a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and he racked up a lot of steals and blocks while leading Washington to being one of college basketball's best defenses.
General manager Elton Brand said in his post-draft press conference to reporters that Thybulle was the first player in 20 years to have 100-plus steals and 70-plus blocks in a season. Thybulle totaled 126 steals and 82 blocks, good for ridiculous averages of 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game this season.
Thybulle has the instincts to be able to read and react to the play in time to either disrupt the play or cause a turnover in most situations. One of the reasons for his success on the defensive end is his 7-foot wingspan that allows him, in addition to his instincts, to disrupt the opposing offense.
The 76ers were a middling team last year in terms of their defense. They finished 14th in defensive rating (108.9), along the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixers ranked 19th in opponent's points per game (112.5). With superstar Joel Embiid being one of the best shot-blocking big men in the NBA and Ben Simmons having elite defensive abilities, the Sixers' defense should in theory be better than just middle of the pack. However, the team's bench defense struggled throughout the season, leading to Brand making the decision to draft a defensive specialist.
"[Thybulle is] A player that can come in right now and help us play defense," Brand said. "We know the wings we are going to face in the East this year, so to get the best defensive wing [was important]."
Thybulle, who is known for his lockdown defense at Washington, also has a developing offensive game as well. Many people believe that he is not a good shooter and will have to develop from scratch on the offensive side of the court. However, the Washington native has shown that he has the ability to shoot from 3-point range.
I don't think Thybulle is a pure shooter, but I think it's unfair to label him a non-shooter as well. Down year this past year, but shot 38.3% on 290 3-point attempts, and 77% from the free-throw line, the previous two years.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) June 21, 2019
Thybulle shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range in his career at Washington, amassing 538 attempts from beyond the arc. However, his efficiency dipped during his senior season, going from 36.5 percent to 30.5 percent from 3-point range. Brand said he is not concerned about the decreased efficiency in Thybulle's outside shot during his senior season.
The defensive impact that Thybulle provides is the main reason why the Sixers fell in love with him enough to trade up with the rival Celtics. Even if Thybulle's offense never really pans out, his defense provides him an NBA-ready skill that should allow him to be a role player.
The 76ers had known for a while that they had interest in Thybulle, but perhaps they made it known too much.
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor tweeted something interesting after Philadelphia traded up to draft Thybulle, saying that the team had promised Thybulle's camp that they would take him in the draft.
Wow. The Sixers had promised Matisse Thybulle with the no. 24 pick. It shows how badly Philly wanted Thybulle to give this up: He's a potential perfect fit as a multi-positional defender who blends in on offense next to Ben and Joel. https://t.co/65FZ2BYzf7— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 21, 2019
Brand had some controversial things to say regarding the rumors that the Sixers had promised to pick Thybulle. "There's conversations with agents all the time. The draft is so volatile. You don't know if you are going to get who you want to get. As far as tipping our hand on who we like, we did like other players also for sure."
Everything about what Brand said makes sense, except that Thybulle only worked out for the Sixers. Brand went on to say that any decisions regarding Thybulle's workouts were made by his agent, Aaron Goodwin, and that Thybulle's camp was aware in Philadelphia's desire to take him in the draft. Add in that fact, and when combined with O'Connor saying that the Sixers promised to take Thybulle, something potentially adds up.
The Celtics, led by their general manager Danny Ainge, jumped in and capitalized on the Sixers' desire to draft Thybulle. For the second time in three years, the Celtics and 76ers made a trade in the first round that resulted in a player from Washington coming to Philadelphia (anyone remember Markelle Fultz?).
"I reached out to them. I understand the past, but it's the best move for the organization," Brand said. "I initiated the call and if you look at it, the market rate for teams to move up is a future second or a second [round pick]."
The rest is history, with Thybulle becoming a member of the 76ers and having his introductory press conference with the team early on Friday afternoon.
Thybulle will be expected to participate in the Summer League, where he will continue to develop his skills on the court before eventually making it into the team's rotation once the NBA's regular season begins.
"Looking forward to them both [Thybulle and the team's second-round pick, Marial Shayok] playing Summer League," Brand said. "For Matisse, it's gonna take time but I see him cracking the front end of our rotation."
In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, Brand said that the 76ers were looking to draft a player who they thought could provide an immediate impact. In trading up for Thybulle, they showed that they think that he is that guy.
"I definitely plan on coming in and contributing, I don't see why not because defense translates," Thybulle said. "For me, defense is effort, and I can bring effort day in and day out. 3-point shooting comes naturally to me, and I think that will be a big asset with all the scorers we have."