Matisse Thybulle is a 6’5 1/2” wing for the Washington Huskies. Thybulle, the reigning PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, is, perhaps, the most dynamic, anticipatory, high IQ wing defender in college basketball. Though Washington’s zone defense fogs up the evaluation lens of even the most seasoned of talent evaluators, Thybulle has established himself as a draftable prospect with a translatable archetype and defensive skill set tailored to providing contribution to winning at the next level.
Tale of the Tape
Defensive Impact Plays
Thybulle’s 7”+ wingspan (fittingly referred to as ‘go-go gadget arms’ by former NBA scout and current Babcock Hoops draft analyst, Matt McKay), and functional use thereof immediately pops on tape. This positional length, in conjunction with quick hands and high-level anticipatory instincts, make Thybulle a uniquely impactful defender. Thybulle produces a high volume of deflections, and is the only Division 1 player averaging 2+ blocks and 2+ steals per game (currently averaging 6.7 “stocks” / 40 minutes) this season. Thybulle exhibits special defensive IQ, as evidenced by his knack for forcing turnovers and making both on-ball and off-ball impact plays, but also by his overall defensive efficiency beyond the block and steal box score statistics. Thybulle surrenders only 0.649 PPP in possessions concluding with him as the primary on-ball defender, ranking in the 91st percentile. Opponents are shooting a mere 24.8% from the field on such possessions.
Thybulle’s knack for using his length and IQ to disrupt passing lanes and to accumulate blocks on jump shots is nearly unprecedented. Subsequent to these impact plays, Thybulle has the quickness to secure the steal or track down the post-block rebound, and the awareness to immediately look ahead for potential transition outlet opportunities.
In the clips below, we highlight Thybulle’s shot-blocking versatility, as well as anticipatory deflections/steals, which invaluably turn defense into high efficiency transition offense.
The context of Washington’s zone defense under Coach Mike Hopkins certainly factors into the analysis of Thybulle’s prospect valuation. It is important to note that Thybulle has the green light to gamble and take on-ball risks at the top of the Washington zone given the assurance of the presence of backline help. Though some of this activity may be subdued in a man-to-man scheme, where Thybulle truly shines is making reads as an off-ball defender. The off-ball, help-side rotation principles within the context of NBA defensive schemes are based upon a somewhat similar foundation as zone defensive principles, which helps in projecting forward the translatability of Thybulle’s defensive impact to the next level.
While Thybulle’s intriguing defensive package is certainly his calling card, much of his upside as an NBA prospect, and his eventual potential to crack an NBA rotation, is dependent upon his consistency as a spot-up three-point shooter.
Thybulle’s shooting form has fairly consistent, projectable upper body mechanics, with a compact, high-and-tight shooting motion. His lower body mechanics vary from time-to-time, but not in a way that is particularly concerning or unfixable. Thybulle’s release speed is respectable, though he has struggled a bit throughout his career in guarded catch-and-shoot scenarios against high-hand defenders with length. Thybulle is, however, very effective in unguarded catch-and-shoot scenarios, converting at a 1.304 PPP clip, ranking in the 70th percentile.
In the clip below, we will highlight Thybulle’s spot-up shooting mechanics and catch-and-shoot release speed.
As you can see, the shot mechanics look smooth, clean, and projectable. Thybulle’s efficiency struggles in guarded catch-and-shoot scenarios may, in fact, be more so driven by opponents opting for inordinately aggressive close-outs on Thybulle in spot-up situations due to his lack of assertiveness in attacking close-outs. If Thybulle can work on becoming a dangerous threat as a straight-line driver after pump-faking and blowing by overzealous close-outs, his spot-up and catch-and-shoot efficiency has the chance to, in turn, greatly benefit.
Although Thybulle is shooting just 30.9% from deep this season, he is a career 36.6% three-point shooter at Washington. He is also shooting an impressive 90.2% from the charity stripe this season, which helps support the theoretical projectability of his jump shot. Thybulle’s jumper isn’t a sure thing, but there’s certainly reason to believe in his ability to become a viable corner three spot-up threat at the next level.
Thybulle’s prospect archetype is highly valued in the modern NBA. Accumulating long, switchable wings (a position of scarcity) helps front offices maintain roster-construction flexibility, and allows coaches to be malleable with their rotations.
Thybulle is, by all accounts, a grounded, humble, intelligent, high-character young man, and will likely thrive in the pre-draft interview process. Given the clear defensive upside, if a front office believes in the translatability of his shooting, it’s easy to imagine a team setting their sights Thybulle as a late 1st round selection or a low-risk early 2nd rounder that warrants a guaranteed contract given his potential to seamlessly integrate as a mid-to-back-end rotation piece that contributes to winning basketball.
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