The evolution of 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle has begun

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It was an early-November night in Denver, and the Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard was on the bench as the Nuggets scored 35 points in the fourth quarter of a matchup of NBA championship contenders. He remained glued to the bench, picking up his first DNP-CD eight games into his young career, as Philadelphia suffered its third consecutive loss.

Thybulle arrived in the NBA as a premier defensive prospect. But mistakes at that end, coupled with poor shooting — he was a ghastly 24.2% from the field and 23.8% from 3-point range — had seen him lose the trust of Sixers coach Brett Brown.

A month later, those same Nuggets came into Philadelphia, again threatening to erase a Sixers fourth-quarter lead, cutting the margin to two points. This time, though, Thybulle wasn’t watching from the bench. And when he knocked down a 25-footer to stem Denver’s rally, the Nuggets never got any closer.

After a bumpy start to his NBA career, Thybulle is in a groove. And in finding his place, he is starting to show why the 76ers moved up to draft him in nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The rookie was summoned to make his NBA debut during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics. He was immediately given the assignment of slowing down point guard Kemba Walker. The All-Star goaded Thybulle into a pair of fouls in the span of 11 seconds. After just three minutes, his first stint of NBA action was over.2

As the game went along, though, Thybulle began to hold his own. He eventually got a clean steal on Walker on one play and blocked his shot on another. It was an early glimpse of the defensive instincts and abilities that have scouts and fellow players raving.

“I’ve not seen a rookie come in with his defensive skills, and that’s impressive,” Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris said. “The only guy I would say is Kawhi [Leonard].”

The comparison is a lofty one, but Thybulle built his reputation on spectacular defense. He was a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year at Washington, where he played like a football safety, constantly looking for an opportunity to pounce into a passing lane. He produced highlight-reel moments of the type he had earlier this month against Utah, when Mike Conley lofted a backcourt pass to Donovan Mitchell, only to see Thybulle dart in, nab the ball and hit Ben Simmons for an alley-oop slam.

But Thybulle’s gambles can lead to wide-open shots for the opponent when they come up empty. And in those early-season moments when his playing time waned, those failed gambles were a primary reason.

“I’ve had to figure out time and place,” Thybulle said recently with a smile. “It’s been a huge feel thing. A lot of these guys, it’s my first time playing against them. So I didn’t know what to expect. I came in with my college mentality, like, try to steal every pass.