Philadelphia 76ers rookie wing Matisse Thybulle was drafted for his defensive prowess but has also improved on the offensive side as well.
Thybulle was electrifying during a victory against the defending-champion Toronto Raptors, hitting five three-pointers on December 8. The rookie ended the night with a career-high 20 points.
After 23 games, the first-year player is shooting 44.0 percent from three-point range. That is currently quite a bit better than league average (35.7 percent) in the NBA. Despite the fact that the college three-point line is shorter than the professional distance, that mark is also better than he ever shot in the NCAA.
The 23-year-old has never been a player who has been able to create his own shot from the perimeter. During his four-year college tenure at the University of Washington, per Hoop-Math, over 90 percent of his successful shots from beyond the arc were assisted.
This season, all of the 22 three-pointers he has made have come off an assist. That means he relies on his teammates for his outside attempts, used mostly as a spot-up finisher for Philadelphia.
Especially considering how much attention is required by opposing defenses for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, there are often open shooters waiting on the perimeter.
For example, watch how much space Thybulle has as Simmons drives to the basket. While he may have been able to continue for a contested shot near the rim, he instead finds Thybulle for a catch-and-shoot three-pointer.
As such, it is no surprise that the rookie is averaging 5.8 three-point attempts per 36 minutes when playing alongside Simmons but just 2.6 per 36 when he has not been on the court with the point forward.
More than two-thirds (68.1 percent) of his connected three-pointers have hit while sharing the floor with Simmons — who has actually assisted on nearly half (45.5 percent) of his long-distance makes. Watch one of them during the victory over Toronto:
Thybulle is averaging 1.16 points per possession (75th percentile) as a spot-up shooter for the Sixers. The wing is shooting 18-for-36 (50.0 percent) on these looks.
During his tenure for the Washington Huskies, he was just 178-for-471 (37.8 percent) on spot-up possessions. He ranked below the 50th percentile in both his junior and senior campaigns.
You can see the progress he has made shooting off the catch and as a spot-up shooter below:
Overall, Philadelphia currently ranks fourth-best among all NBA teams in spot-up efficiency this season. Thybulle has both been a beneficiary and also played a big role in the team’s success in these opportunities.
Before the draft, that is exactly what Jonathan Wasserman projected for the wing (via Bleacher Report):
“Optimizing Thybulle means surrounding him with scorers and playmakers so he can receive open catch-and-shoot looks and play to his strengths as a spot-up threat and defensive ace.”
Thybulle has found a role and a niché in the offense for the Sixers and will have even more trust from his teammates and coaches get more used to his style.