The Golden State Warriors’ defense has been slowly moving from awful to decent this season. Now a new report suggests they’re looking at a trade that could be a huge upgrade to the much-maligned defense.
Keith Pompey, Sixers beat writer and 9/11 memorialist, reported that the Warriors and the Sacramento Kings are two teams that have talked about dealing for Matisse Thybulle, the 25-year-old wing who made the All-Defensive second team each of the last two seasons.
Thybulle is a long-armed, athletic defender who is best described as “active” on that end of the floor. He has huge rates of steals and blocks - 2.7 and 1.5 per 36 minutes for his career - and also huge foul rates (3.6 per 36). The fouling has limited his playing time, but so has his lack of offensive game.
This year, Thybulle has fallen out of the 76ers’ rotation periodically, and ranks 11th on the team in minutes per game. Some of that is his play, but some of that is Philadelphia president Daryl Morey’s off-season moves, where James Harden took a pay cut in order to let Morey surround him with his old Houston Rockets teammates P.J. Tucker and Danuel House.
There’s an obvious need for a wing defender off the bench beyond Jonathan Kuminga, especially one who switches as well as Thybulle. He’s certainly a non-shooter, but Thybulle has been able to make wide-open threes.
Some numbers on Matisse Thybulle, who is a hot topic in Kings trade discussions right now— Will Z. Stats (@will_zimmerle) February 1, 2023
Wide-Open 3P%: 40.8%
On/Off Net Rating: +4.8 (3rd highest on Phi)
Opponents are shooting 25.4% on 3's, 10.5% under the season averages, and 42.8% from the field (-3.1%)
However, he could be a tough fit playing with non-shooters like Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, or Kuminga in games not against the Toronto Raptors. It feels like the Warriors’ primary need is a backup big man who can shoot less than a backup wing who can’t.
Thybulle makes $4.4 million this year in his last season before he can become a restricted free agent this summer. The big question is whether the Warriors can offer Philly something they need - the rosters don’t exactly match up. Dealing any of the team’s recent first-rounders seems like too much for Thybulle, while JaMychal Green feels extraneous to a Sixers team that already has Tucker and Montrezl Harrell to back up Joel Embiid.
The other issue? The Sixers want to get under the luxury tax line before the trade deadline - they’re $1.2 million over. Maybe that means they’ll give up Thybulle cheap, but you may have read that adding salary becomes exponentially expensive for the tax-paying Warriors. If the Dubs truly want Thybulle, they’ll probably need to get a third team involved.
Because Joe Lacob wants to improve the team’s defense, but he also wants to defend his bottom line.