Two years ago, Matisse Thybulle played for a woeful Washington team that capped off a 9-22 season with 13 straight defeats. Exit head coach Lorenzo Romar. Enter former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins.
The tide changed immediately. Washington earned an NIT bid the next year after a 20-12 mark. This year, the Huskies have stormed to a 26-7 record and a Pac-12 regular-season title.
Thybulle’s pro prospects improved alongside his team’s success. The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder is one of the West Coast’s best defensive stoppers. He averages 2.3 blocks and 3.5 steals a contest (the latter leads the nation).
While his 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game are solid, he figures to make his name in the NBA as a go-to defender. Entering Saturday night’s Pac-12 Tournament Championship against Oregon (10:30 p.m. EST, ESPN), Thybulle gets to prove his acumen against fellow NBA hopeful Louis King.
Thybulle held King to just 7 points the last time the Huskies and Ducks met (a 55-47 Oregon win).
Is exceptional defense enough for a team to snatch him up in this summer’s draft? Let’s take a dive into his NBA prognostications, as well as mock drafts and big boards.
Matisse Thybulle Draft Projections & Mock Draft
Jeremy Woo of SI.com lists him as the No. 47 overall prospect on his most recent mock draft. He even provides some praise for his “nice-looking shot.”
Thybulle remains one of the most intriguing defensive prospects in this draft class, with great length and natural ability that should be disruptive even outside the context of Washington’s 2-3 zone. He blocks shots, fishes for steals and makes a tangible impact on that side of the ball—even if he doesn’t lock people down one-on-one, his off-ball defense alone could make him playable. His likely versatility on that end coupled with a buyable if streaky three-point stroke makes him an enticing low-risk, high-reward type pick in the second round. He is not a volume threat as a scorer, but he has a nice-looking shot that may well translate. Thybulle doesn’t hunt or force his own shot and is a willing ball-mover, and could become an effective, if somewhat limited, part of someone’s rotation.
Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype shows in his aggregate mock draft that Thybulle is a near-consensus pick for the second round. One of the higher of those mocks is NBA Draft Net, which pegs him for the No. 42 pick to the Atlanta Hawks.
Our own Jon Adams leaves him off of his most recent mock draft.
Nassir Little NBA Draft Big Board Rankings
Aran Smith’s NBA Draft Net has him as the No. 55 player in his top-100 prospects list.
ESPN’s Draft Board has him as the No. 7 small forward and No. 36 player overall, placing him just behind Iowa State’s Jalen Horton-Tucker, Stanford’s KZ Okpala and Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson.
Brandon Anderson of Medium gave Thybulle an extended scouting report back in February and compared him to 6-time All-NBA Defense team member Tony Allen.
Thybulle will always be the fifth player on an NBA offense, but the athleticism, dribble and shot look promising enough to keep him from getting the Tony Allen treatment. On defense, he’ll be the team’s #1 with the ability to guard one to four, maybe five in a small lineup. As a college player, Thybulle reminds me of Robbie Hummel in an NBA body, a veteran team player who leads with hustle, energy, defense, and communication. In the NBA, perhaps he can be something like P.J. Tucker. He has the size and strength to battle bigger players, and he’d be a menace switching onto smaller guards in a pick-and-roll. A lot of teams want a player like that in the modern NBA.
In an NBA that requires further positional flexibility, particularly on defense, Thybulle could end up being an invaluable asset for some lucky franchise.