A few weeks ago, we wondered in a deliberately provocative way, if Matisse Thybulle was not the “real” best defender in the league, at least more than his two comrades Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons who were each campaigning for the title of DPoY. Despite the reduced playing time, all the advanced stats already highlighted the stupendous side of the boy’s defensive impact.
The playoffs have started and the least we can say is that Thybulle is still so unlikely. Doc Rivers holds a nugget of a somewhat peculiar kind and we saw it again in game 2 between the Sixers and the Wizards. The former Washington Huskies player simply made history with a performance that is a testament to his ability to influence a game in a very short period of time.
Best NBA defenseman plays in Philadelphia, but it’s neither Embiid nor Simmons
Against Washington, therefore, Matisse Thybulle compiled 5 blocks and 4 interceptions in 19 minutes. Never had anyone looked so good with so few minutes for “stocks”, the compilation of steals and blocks. The sophomore has an instinct and a flair that allow him to defend effectively on any type of player and to materialize that by blocks or interceptions.
If we want to push it a little further, we can also look at the players who, in history, have already managed playoff matches with at least 5 blocks and 4 interceptions. None of the 20 performances concerned have been in 19 minutes, obviously, but what is most striking is the names of the players in question. That very heavy!
- Hakeem Olajuwon (8 times)
- Ben Wallace (3)
- Draymond Green (2)
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Elvin Hayes
- Scottie Pippen
- Chris Webber
- Kevin Garnett
- Kawhi Leonard
There’s the stats, which are extremely flattering for the young Sixer, and then there’s the visual impression, at least as important. On certain sequences, it is sometimes difficult to believe our eyes as it mixes speed, explosiveness and tenacity.
Matisse Thybulle has to be on an All-Defensive team. He has to. pic.twitter.com/Sgp5LHWrKx
— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) May 27, 2021
If Doc Rivers does not use it more, it is because he remains a player still a bit unidimensional and therefore more dedicated to a role player status. That said, we would still like to see him in action over 35 or 40 minutes, as it could be a pretty incredible defensive spectacle. Even with 15-20 minutes per game, Thybulle has a good chance of being an absolutely defining element in the Sixers’ title quest. Having such an original and unique weapon is not given to all teams.
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