Matisse Thybulle: Role



  • Accomplished team defender

  • Historic stock rate

  • Great at using his athleticism and length to alter shots without fouling

  • Good understanding of spacing principles and solid 3-point production in previous seasons

  • Unbelievable hands; great nose for the basketball


  • Lacks an offensive identity; he can disappear for stretches

  • Has limited lateral quickness which may affect his man-to-man skills

  • Negligible impact on the boards

  • Virtually no creation ability for himself or others

  • Ineffective around the rim

Offensive role at Washington

Thybulle is primarily utilized as a spot up shooter and secondary driver. He has a good understanding of where and how to position himself to create space for himself and for teammates by using his own shooting gravity. While his 3-point percentage in his senior season was low (30.5%), he has proven to be a solid shooter at the NCAA level, with 156-383, 40.7% shooting in his first three seasons at Washington. He also has shown the ability to attack defenses off the bounce, particularly from the weak side. While his handle isn't quite reliable enough to get him into the paint against longer and more athletic defenses, having the ability to force the issue against half court defenses gives him some much needed depth on offense. One shortcoming in this area is the limited trips to the free throw line. Because he is judicious in attacking the basket, he attempts a meager two free throws per game. The bulk of his assists come from moving the ball within the flow of the offense and not as a result of spectacular vision or passing ability, but his understanding of where and how teammates will get open is apparent. He was the fourth option on a team ranked 110th in adjusted offense (via Kenpom), leading to some fair question about his ability to positively impact the game on that end of the floor.

Offensive role projection -

Floor spacer

While Thybulle’s defense is impressive and expansive, his offensive game lacks nuance and depth. Few teams will pull his name off their draft boards because of his diminished offensive role, but his low usage, middling efficiency game might be cause for concern early in his career. He will likely be best served in a role similar to the one he played at UW where he operates primarily as a catch-and-shoot threat. He will need to be paired with a primary slashing creator so he can space above the break. His ability to attack the basket will be mitigated by lengthier and more athletic NBA defenders. Because he isn’t the most explosive or crafty finisher, he will need to make his mark as a weak side cutter as help defenses rotate away from him.

Defensive role at Washington

Thybulle is the linchpin of on of the NCAA's top defenses (ranked 18th via Kenpom), helping Washington to a 27-9 record and an opening round victory over Utah State in the tournament. The Huskies’ zone defense generated the 6th-most turnovers in the nation and Thybulle's contributions played a major factor. His role in the top of the zone shifted him away from point-of-attack defense and placed him in a free safety role where he could roam. He has incredibly quick hands which he uses to generate steals as a help defender when doubling down and stopping penetration, but he is also capable of jumping passing lanes. He doesn't immediately convert turnovers to points very often because he is usually moving toward the defensive basket instead of into the open floor, but simply adding extra possessions is incredibly valuable. He is also a tremendous threat to block shots as a help defender, with excellent timing and reaction speed. On the ball, though less likely to block shots, he alters the necessary release point and contests intelligently without fouling. Zone principles also exist in man defenses and “zoning up” away from the ball has become prevalent in NBA defenses. Thybulle can defend the weak side almost by himself allowing a team to overload the strong side knowing his length, speed, awareness, and anticipation will allow him to recover if the ball is swung and potentially generate deflections or steals when the ball is swung.

Defensive role projection -

Free safety

Teams will be most interested in Thybulle because of his defensive impact. With the NBA becoming hyper-focused on efficiency, players who can create extra possessions for their teams become increasingly valuable. While the raw numbers for Thybulle may be inflated, the skills which make those numbers possible are NBA caliber. He has great instincts as a weak-side help defender and does a tremendous job positioning himself to help and still contest on shooters. Putting him in a less switch-y system will allow him to take advantage of his disruptive capabilities. One of the interesting questions surrounding Thybulle is how will he adjust back toward a predominantly man defense? He played his freshman and sophomore seasons in a man scheme, though under Lorenzo Romar the Husky defense was nothing to write home about. He seems to have blossomed under Mike Hopkins and has adapted his game away from the natural NBA style. He has some difficulties containing dribble penetration against quicker initiators and has even been blown away on hard closeouts at times this season. Readjusting to a man scheme will take time, but Thybulle has great instincts and timing, allowing him to still make an impact during his learning curve.

Why Thybulle will earn minutes as a rookie

The path to minutes for Thybulle is simple: hit open shots and generate extra possessions. No matter what else the 22 year old wing can or can't do, he should be able to maintain relevance with those two tricks in his bag. His defensive capabilities will be his primary selling point and if the team who drafts him can place him with other high IQ defenders, he can shift away from the point of attack and guard off-ball threats. Making his mark won't require him to be a lock-and-trail bulldog, but rather to jump passing lanes, alter shots, and defend without fouling. Offensively, the key will be bringing enough to the table. No team is going to expect high level production, but his output needs to maintain a minimum level to keep him from sliding into “offensive liability” territory.

Why Thybulle’s minutes may be limited as a rookie

Which brings us to this: if he can't maintain some offensive productivity, finding a spot for him may be difficult, especially if he lands on a team in the playoff hunt. Three-point shooting is really the key here; he shot a reasonable percentage for three years, though his nosedive during his senior season might be a concern. He does shoot 85 percent from the free throw line and has nice, workable mechanics, leading to speculation by our staff that it may be more slump than slide. Connecting on above-the-break threes and learning to utilize the deep corners (something he didn't do a tremendous amount of at Washington) will be priority one to carving out a rotation role. Should he struggle early on as a shooter, he has very few other offensive avenues for success which will require some careful lineup building for him to stay relevant.