The upcoming 2019 NBA Draft is going to be one for the ages. Prospects like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are already being considered future All-Stars, as their play in the NCAA has been incredible so far. As the NCAA tournament begins and these top guys get a taste of the big stage, some of the best players will not even get a chance at the tournament title. Matisse Thybulle from the University of Washington’s Basketball team will not be attending the Big Dance, even though he may be one of the best players in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Thybulle is a senior guard who has been under the radar the past few seasons at Washington. Not known for his offense, Thybulle has slipped through the cracks of the attention of NBA scouts until last year when he won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Defense is what makes Thybulle such a great prospect. Currently Thybulle is averaging 3.4 steals per game, and around 6.6 steals per 100 possessions. Being able to get steals consistently is what really makes Thybulle stand out among the other defenders in the NCAA. Putting that number into perspective, Kawhi Leonard averages 3.0 steals per 100 possessions, Robert Covington with 4.0, and Victor Oladipo with 4.6. While there is a large difference between NCAA play and NBA play, the numbers still are very impressive.
Besides the numbers, Thybulle has great defensive IQ and awareness. As a defensive specialist it’s important to keep your fouls down, and Thybulle has no problem with that. Only averaging around 2 fouls per game, Thybulle can stay in the game without worrying about fouling out due to his defensive IQ.
The NBA has progressed steadily over the past few years ever since the rise of the Golden State Warriors and their philosophy of building through superstars and quality role players. Thybulle is the perfect fit for a team trying to copy that idea. He does not need a lot of shots to be effective and will fit in perfectly with a team that has superstars who will take most of the shots.
From that comes the downside of Thybulle, he is not a great offensive player. Only shooting around 43% from the field, and 31 % from three, Thybulle will need to add a quality three point shot to be an effective player in the league. As seen with players like Ben Simmons and Andre Roberson, while both great players, they have no three point shot. Thus, teams can leave them wide open for three which can take them completely out of the game. The lack of offense is keeping Thybulle out of the top of the draft class and pushed him to the bottom of the first round. If a team takes the time to develop Thybulle’s offense, which in all honestly should not take too much work, they will have the next great player on their team. Thybulle will be a steal for any team that decides to take him in the end of the first round, as he will be considered the next elite NBA defender.