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2019 Draft Profile: Matisse Thybulle, University of Washington

Experience, length, athleticism, defense, potential, Thybulle’s got all of these in spades.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Matisse Thybulle - Washington

Guard/Forward, 6’5”, 195 lbs, 22 years old

41.5 FG%, 30.5 3P%, 85.1 FT%

31.1 MIN 9.1 PTS, 3.1 REB, 2.1 AST, 3.5 STL, 2.3 BLK, 1.8 TOV

Certainly one of the more interesting specimens in the draft field, Matisse Thybulle is a wonder to behold at times. He’s also puzzling as a prospect as well. Hence, why he may be in range for the Utah Jazz to draft him.

Thybulle is almost the pure definition of a 3-and-D prospect. Look the term up in the dictionary and you’ll see his picture, probably swiping the ball out of some poor unsuspecting players grasp.

As a four-year starter, Thybulle went through some ups and downs, but overall saw a lot of success with the Washington Huskies winning at least 19 games in three of his four seasons (with a 9-22 year in there to break things up). This past season, Thybulle helped lead one of the top defenses in the nation to a Pac-12 regular season title, an NCAA Tournament victory.


Thybulle’s strengths don’t end with his defense, but they sure as heck start there. He earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons and was the 2018-19 NCAA DPOY. He earned the honors this season with a mind-boggling defensive stat line of 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. PER GAME. Of players who played more than one game in a season since 1992-93 only two players have exceeded the three-steal/two-block per game mark according to Basketball Reference (the other is Zakee Wadood).

While the 6-foot-5 frame doesn’t appear great at first for a guy who will be asked to be highly versatile defender and wing, Thybulle does have a reported 7-foot wingspan and 41-inch vertical to his name. These should allow him to avoid issues at the NBA level.

The offensive end of the court hasn’t done too many favors for Thybulle. But he shows plenty of promise as a shooter if nothing else.


One major concern with Thybulle’s defense is that he played in a zone the two seasons where he won all of his awards. This isn’t a deal-breaker since you don’t do what he did even if your coach draws up a perfect zone scheme, but it’s a real concern.

Going back to offense is where the vast majority of weaknesses pop up. Thybulle is a near non-factor as a passer (he basically has a career 1/1 AST/TOV ratio), is not a threat in isolation and his shooting stats are, well...interesting in places. His career percentage from deep is a respectable 35.8 that includes three seasons above 36 percent and a sophomore campaign that saw him exceed 40. Then this last year is plummeted to 30.5 with his overall percentage similarly tanking to 41.5. His free throw marks also did a near perfect alternation year-to-year from 71 percent to around 85.

Q&A with Max Vrooman of UW Dawg Pound

I was able to talk with Max Vrooman of UW Dawg Pound. He is high on Matisse’s defensive potential in a league that is pushing further away from the paint, but he wasn’t so sure of his fit with the Utah Jazz. Responses are Max’s.

What strengths of Matisse Thybulle will translate well to the NBA?

It’s not exactly a shock to say that the National Defensive Player of the Year’s most translatable skill will be his defense. He’s a plus athlete even by NBA standards with a 7’0 wingspan at 6’5 so from a physical standpoint he has all of the tools to step in and be an immediate impact player at that end of the floor. What really sets Matisse apart are his instincts. Averaging 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game is quite literally unheard of at the major college level especially the block numbers at his height. Playing in Washington’s 2-3 zone gave Matisse more freedom to roam the court searching for steals and blocks but even in the NBA playing man-to-man he’ll still be a complete menace jumping passing lanes on the perimeter.

What weaknesses of Thybulle will need to be improved in the NBA?

The thing holding back Matisse from being a surefire top-ten pick is his lack of a handle. Thybulle struggled with turnovers throughout his Washington career and in particular had issues with his decision making when trying to drive through traffic. He also tends to rely on his long arms to get around and avoid rather than draw contact when going to the rim. This frustrated the coaching staff who wanted to take advantage of his above average free throw shooting but instead saw him take fewer than 2 FTA per game.

What role do you see Thybulle being in the NBA?

Matisse definitely has the chance to be more than a role player but at this point in his career, and at Utah’s place in the draft, one of his strengths is his ability to accept a supporting role. He’s the prototypical 3 and D player and will be at his best if asked to defend the other team’s best perimeter scorer while mostly standing in the corner or curling off screens on offense. Some clubs might be put off by his lack of offensive assertiveness but if on a team that already has multiple primary scoring options then Matisse’s willingness to take a backseat at least early on can be viewed as a strength.

Would you consider Utah a good landing spot for him?

Thybulle has the potential to be a better shooting Andre Roberson as a future all-defensive team member who mainly just scores off catch and shoot 3’s and transition baskets. Matisse struggled with his 3-pt shot this season (30.5% 3pt) but finished his college career shooting 35.8% from behind the arc and 78.2% from the FT line so he will be capable of knocking down an open corner 3 in an NBA game with more spacing. I don’t know if I love the fit for Matisse on Utah which would ideally like to find a 2nd guard besides Donovan Mitchell who can create his own shot come playoff time. But he could potentially give Utah the best defensive duo in the league with Rudy Gobert protecting the paint behind him, thus freeing him up to go for steals more often.

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