Matisse Thybulle has only played 31 NBA regular-season games, but he’s already inspired a variety of nicknames.

There’s one he endorses above all others: Mathief.

“That’s the one I’ve heard the most,” he told The Action Network’s Rob Perez. “I like it. I just think it’s funny because my name’s Matisse and there are the s’s at the end. For me, it feels like somebody is saying my name with a really long lisp. … I think it’s cool because the whole idea of a thief stealing and my name. I think of all those, that’s my favorite.”

Thybulle, who leads all rookies with 43 steals, has an attacking defensive mindset. He’s talked often about working to find the appropriate balance between risk-taking and team responsibility. The University of Washington product, healthy again after a seven-game absence because of a right knee injury, always seems to be waiting to pounce.

“For me, it’s simple, because you have to have the ball to score,” he said. “To do anything in the game effectively, the ball has to be involved in the play. So, that gives you a certain level of advantage on defense. You know what they're trying to do involves this one thing.

"Trying to bait them into making the play that they want to make — even though you know they want to — and making it seem like it’s there and it's all appealing, like, ‘Oh yeah, we can make this pass,’ and then at the last second taking it away, that’s one thing that helps me.”


Sixers fans have quickly embraced Thybulle’s style of play and personality. He told Perez that he doesn’t feel extra pressure to meet their expectations. 

Not really, because it’s been such a cool experience. They’re like, ‘The fans are hard, if you have a bad game they’ll get you have it,’ which is very true. But for me, it’s been so much support in the sense that they understand the growth that needs to take place for a rookie. I came out and would make a lot of mistakes or having scoreless games, or have steal-less games or block-less games.

"They weren’t like, ‘Oh, what are you doing? You’re not doing your thing!’ It was this whole Trust the Process thing. Because this team has come so far to where they are now and trusted that process of what it took to get here, they’ve given me the grace to have that growing process and see where I can end up. So, I think it’s a lot more excitement than it is pressure.

The full interview with Perez is below. 

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