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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Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

NBC Sports Philadelphia/YouTube

Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick go back and forth about JJ Redick's comments about the importance of team dinners, five Sixers landing on SI's top 100, and Joel Embiid saying he has lost 25 pounds.

• Discussing nuggets about Jimmy Butler and the quadruple doink from JJ Redick's appearance on the Lowe Post.

• Sports Illustrated's Top 100 for 2020 came out. The rankings are mostly fair but the guys have one gripe.

• Joel Embiid said he lost 25 pounds ... but he clearly didn't lose his sense of humor.

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JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

Sixers fans are generally excited about the team's new roster construction heading into the 2019-2020 season, but there's no doubt the sharp shooting of JJ Redick will be missed.

Redick took his talents down to the bayou and will suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. Redick joined ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe on Lowe's podcast this week to talk about his new opportunity. They also reflected a bit on his time with the Sixers and the tough loss to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the playoffs after four bounces of a Kawhi Leonard desperation shot.

Redick is open about the fact that the decision to move on to New Orleans was partly financial.

"I never got the sense that [the Sixers] didn't want to bring me back. Unfortunately, it came down to a little bit of economics," Redick said.

Jimmy Butler's decision to move on to the Miami Heat obviously precipitated that move. Redick speaks highly of Butler regardless of his decision.

"I love Jimmy. I would play with Jimmy again," Redick said. "He is in the upper tier of two-way players and in the upper tier of offensive players in the NBA, period."

So Redick has moved on to New Orleans, but it's tough not to think back to what could have been. There was a point in the Toronto series where Redick believed the Sixers were capable of winning the NBA championship last season.

"Joel [Embiid] and I spent some time together after the season and we talked about it. It was Game 4 [against Toronto] for us. We lost that game and I felt like, for most of that game, we had control, not just that game but that series. We had a chance to go up 3-1. That was the opportunity that we missed. You lose that game and it's 2-2 and you've got to win 2 out of 3 against Toronto, and that's a tough task."

One other interesting nugget from Redick's time in Philly was his sharing that he believed they didn't do enough team dinners on the road.

"I wish, I've tried, I wish, the team meal on the road is huge. I think it's huge. We didn't do it enough last year in Philly. We tried. It wasn't enough. Some of that, look, nobody wants to be forced to go to dinner. It's got to be real and authentic."

Some other choice quotes from the pod below.

On Ben Simmons getting a jumper.

"Ben works. He worked all of last offseason. I witnessed him during the season get his shots up after practice every day. I think he'll be able to shoot at some point. A lot of it is confidence. He can shoot a high enough clip when he's shooting spot shots that it should translate to shooting threes in a game. The video that went viral, looks to me like he's shooting with some confidence there."

Lowe also asked Redick about the dagger shot in Toronto.

"I was on the bench," Redick said. "I sort of had that perfect angle 'cause as soon as the ball had come inbounds, I sort of walked onto the baseline. Not on the court, but onto the baseline so I could get a straight-on view of the action. My memory may be a little jogged but my arms were crossed, I was watching the ball bounce around the rim, and it went in. I'm not sure I had any initial reaction, I think it was just shock. Part of you wants to walk off the floor and punch a wall and the other part of you, if I'm the Raptors, I'd want to dap up the people that I had just played a seven-game series against. I stayed on the court and talked to Kyle, Marc, Kawhi, Danny and those guys. Told them I hope they win a championship and walked off. Then you get back to the locker room and you see the emotion, I was obviously feeling emotional, then Joel started crying. Those are the sorts of moments that you don't forget. As much as you don't forget the shot, the aftermath of moments like that, you just don't forget. There's just a lot of raw emotion."

You can listen to Redick's entire conversation with Zach Lowe right here.

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