76ers' Ben Simmons Says Matisse Thybulle Knows He's One of NBA's Best Defenders

Justin Grasso

The selection of Matisse Thybulle during the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft had Philadelphia 76ers fans torn. Many expected the Sixers to spend their highest pick on a pure shooter -- but the team was focused on putting together one of the NBA's best defensive squads for the 2019-2020 season.

Therefore, the Washington product Matisse Thybulle fit the bill. Before Thybulle ever even debuted as a 76ers rookie, his peers acknowledged him as the best defender in his class. And in training camp, 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons already saw the potential as he had mentioned before that he hated going against the rookie in practice.

That's not a knock on Thybulle at all. The 76ers rookie loves defense, and it shows in his game. While he might've had growing pains throughout the season as rookies typically do, Thybulle's confidence never wavered. And according to his All-Star teammate, the rookie genuinely believes he's one of the NBA's best defenders already.

"[Matisse Thybulle] has been great [this season]," said Ben Simmons, on Brian Seltzer's 'Reel Talk.' "He is willing to learn. Everyone has that kind of rookie bump, as they say. But I haven't really noticed a bump with him. I think he's been very solid overall. He has gotten a lot better, his confidence is getting better and better. Defensively, his confidence is there -- he knows he's one of the best defenders in the NBA." 

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Despite his inconsistency on offense, Thybulle has been a force on the floor defensively. The rookie ranked 22nd overall in the NBA with 80 steals, which placed first for all rookies this year. While Simmons' bias could be showing a bit for his rookie teammate, it could only be a matter of time before Thybulle truly establishes himself as one of the NBA's best defenders. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_