76ers

While you may not like Sixers' draft strategy, Matisse Thybulle looks like perfect fit

While you may not like Sixers' draft strategy, Matisse Thybulle looks like perfect fit

CAMDEN, N.J. — It’s fair to question the Sixers’ draft strategy — whether you’re unhappy with the trade up or the selling of second-round picks. 

It did appear that Danny Ainge and the Celtics got the better of Elton Brand, causing the Sixers to surrender a second-round pick in order to move up and get their man. Just another feather in Ainge’s cap when it comes to dealing with the Sixers and draft picks from the University of Washington, right?

But before we go too far off the rails with that thought process, let’s consider the fact that Matisse Thybulle may be the perfect young player to come in and help the Sixers.

At pick No. 24, the Sixers were unlikely to draft a star nor did they need to. They have at least two of those already. They need players to fill in the gaps and play a role. Thybulle, a 22-year-old, four-year college player, seems like an ideal fit in that regard.

While Thybulle took a backseat offensively during his senior season at Washington, he stepped his defensive game up even more, earning the Lefty Driesell Award as the top defensive player in the country. He put up super gaudy steal and block numbers while wreaking havoc in the Huskies’ zone. Let's not forget that defense is pretty damn important, as our NBC Sports national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh wrote.

Unlike some young players that may want to come in and do things outside their abilities, Thybulle understands who he is and what he brings.

"Knowing your role is a huge thing, in college and in the league,” Thybulle said Friday. “I think that just preparing myself in college to know my role and be the best I can be at that role is going to set myself up well to be here."

Thybulle spoke to reporters at the team’s practice facility in Camden after a whirlwind 24 hours. He came across just as Brand had portrayed. He’s mature, smart and thoughtful. There’s a confidence there, but not cockiness. He has a belief in himself but is self-aware and understands his strengths and weaknesses.

From a personality standpoint, it’s easy to see why Brand and company fell in love with the kid so early in the process. 

And, oh yeah, he’s pretty good at basketball.

“Actually we’ve been following him for the last four years as staff — me, the last two years,” Brand said. “Got to meet with him in April. Saw his workout. That said it all. Interviewed him. High-character guy and that’s what we need to add to our team. His on-the-court stuff just blew me away — his speed, his agility, his sense of the ball on defense, his offense and where he’s growing as a player. After that workout, I was blown away.”

Theoretically, Thybulle is an excellent fit with the Sixers’ young core. Every team is looking for 3-and-D wings. The Sixers have been since they traded Robert Covington to the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler deal. Thybulle has the look of a player that could take on that role.

He shot the ball extremely well in his first three years at Washington, hitting 37.9 percent of this threes and 75 percent of his free throws. It’s a little concerning that Thybulle’s perimeter shooting went down as a senior (30.5 percent from three), but he did shoot a career-high 85.1 percent from the line. That’s an indication that the shot is not broken … repeat, NOT broken.

Brand was targeting Thybulle along — promise or not — and you can see why.

The feeling was mutual.

“I mean, what’s not to like?” Thybulle said. “They’re a great team. Great coaches. Across the board. Just throughout the season, being a basketball junkie, watching basketball, I watched Philly and just keeping track of their success and being like, ‘Wow, it would be incredible to be a part of something that great.’ And then when that became a reality and they made it clear that they were interested … there’s nothing else I’d rather be a part of than this.”

While you may not have been a fan of the trade up or the selling of second-rounders, it’s hard not to like Matisse Thybulle’s fit with the Sixers.

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Knicks targeting Elton Brand as GM? Sixers 'very happy' with him, per team source

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Knicks targeting Elton Brand as GM? Sixers 'very happy' with him, per team source

The Knicks could be looking within the Sixers' organization during their GM search.

Team president Leon Rose has reportedly “targeted” Sixers GM Elton Brand for the same role with the Knicks, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The report went on to say that Rose would wait to see if Brand, 41, would be let go after this year’s playoffs.

It’s a little hard to imagine the Sixers parting ways with Brand despite the team underperforming this season. Though his big moves of stealing Al Horford away from the Celtics, acquiring Josh Richardson in a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler and signing Tobias Harris to a near-max deal haven’t panned out, the organization seems to be high on Brand.

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand's leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

That's in line with what managing partner Josh Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia back in October.

“When the Bryan Colangelo situation occurred, we went through a really long search to try to figure out who was the right person for the job of general manager,” Harris said. “Obviously, [Brand] hadn't been in the front office very long, but all of his strength as a leader and his intelligence and his ability to communicate and his history with the game and with our team and with our city. All those things really were very large in the decision. …

“… and he's increasingly putting his insignia, his imprint on the team, and it's really great. I mean, today's NBA is a player's league. He was an All-Star player not that long ago. He's a really unique person. So I'm really happy that we're working together.”

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Which era of Sixers basketball would make the best documentary?

Which era of Sixers basketball would make the best documentary?

The Sixers are a franchise rich in history and, let’s face it, rich in drama.

With ESPN moving up the release of The Last Dance, a documentary about the dominance of Michael Jordan and the Bulls in their last Finals run, it sparked an interesting debate on the Sixers Talk podcast.

Which era of Sixers basketball would you most like to see a documentary on?

Co-hosts Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick both made the case for Dr. J, Moses Malone and the teams of 1980’s … but for very different reasons.

Don’t get me wrong,” Hudrick said, “some of The Process stuff would be great to get some behind-the-scenes nuggets of what was going on there with some of the decisions that were made and getting some answers to the questions that we’ve all had. …

“[In a documentary on the 1980’s team] we can all go back and watch and see, ‘Oh, Dr. J, he won a championship.’ But to get that context of there were people who were doubting him and then he proved them all wrong. It’s little stuff like that you don’t know about until you go and watch [a documentary] like that.

Pommells agreed with wanting to see something on that era, but wasn’t nearly as interested in reliving The Process years.

To hell with The Process. I ain’t trying to watch nothing on that. I lived through it, I experienced all these little idiosyncrasies. I think once the Bryan Colangelo thing happened, that completely let me know that I was over it, past it, finished with it, ready to move on — because I’m just exasperated at this point. …

“It would be a black eye on the Philadelphia sports landscape.

Do you agree with Pommells? Would you rather see something on the Allen Iverson-led teams? Or way back in the Wilt Chamberlain-Hal Greer days?

For more on the debate, check out the full Sixers Talk podcast below.

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