Matisse Thybulle might be the best option for the Indiana Pacers in the draft

COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 22: Matisse Thybulle #4 of the Washington Huskies celebrates with Jaylen Nowell #5 as they take on the Utah State Aggies during the second half of the game in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 22, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The Washington Huskies won 78-61. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 22: Matisse Thybulle #4 of the Washington Huskies celebrates with Jaylen Nowell #5 as they take on the Utah State Aggies during the second half of the game in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 22, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The Washington Huskies won 78-61. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Matisse Thybulle is projected to land in the early 20s in the 2019 NBA Draft. He would be an excellent selection for the Indiana Pacers at 18.

Washington wing Matisse Thybulle was arguably the best defender in the country last season, something that sounds like the Pacers would make him feel right at home.

He was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. Thybulle was also named the Lefty Driesell Award winner as the most outstanding defender in Division I men’s basketball. He led Division I basketball in steals with 126 takeaways last season. Thybulle was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in both 2018 and 2019. Not to mention he was one of the nation’s top shot-blockers as a wing.

The Washington Huskies played primarily a zone defense in Thybulle’s last two seasons. Their new head coach, Mike Hopkins, is a product of Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. He implemented the zone when he took over in 2017 and Thybulle had no problem adjusting.

Oh, and the guy can shoot, too. He knocked down 37.9 percent of his three-point shots in his first three seasons at Washington. That number dropped to just 30.5 percent in 2018-19. But still, the shot is there at times. If he finds consistency, he will be a huge problem.

The Indiana Pacers need bodies on the wing who can contribute on both ends. They already have a couple of excellent defenders in Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner. Adding Matisse Thybulle would make Indiana almost impossible to score on. Thybulle has a ton of experience after starting 135 of 136 games in college.

He is ready to play in the NBA now and can win a starting job depending on how the roster shakes out. At least in my honest opinion. Here is how he may fit with the Pacers.

The good: Thybulle has incredible two-way potential

Matisse Thybulle’s defense is so wonderful that I’ll save it for last. Offensively, he has a ton of potential. He has shown the ability to hit shots, especially when left open. He plays off-ball and allows his teammates to create while he finds spots.

Thybulle is a pretty good slasher that can rise up for big slams at times. Over half of his shots (534 of 1027) came from deep, however. He can space the floor and let others run the offense. It seems as though he knows what he does best and lets his teammates take care of the things they are better at.

Now let’s jump into that defense. Thybulle has a 7’0” wingspan that helps him shut down passing lanes easily. He averaged 3.5 steals per game last season and 2.5 during his four-year career. He finished his career with 331 steals for the Huskies.

Thybulle gets his steals in a variety of ways. He tips passes, pokes the ball away from ball-handlers, and punches it out from behind. If he is beaten off the dribble, he recovers well. Mix in his anticipation and you have a recipe for success on defense. He often sees screens coming and dodges them to stay with his man. Thybulle is also a great switcher on screens when he needs to be. He switches quickly and takes away any passing lane that may be available.

His length is equally important when contesting shots. He blocked 185 shots in college for an average of 1.4 per game. That number spiked to 2.3 per game last season. He understands the game so well and times the blocks perfectly. His long arms make it possible for him to block shots from behind or on closeouts.

The most compelling aspect of Thybulle’s defense is his help in double teams. He pressures the ball and forces bad shots and passes.  He gets to the spot in a hurry and traps the ball, using his length to shield passing lanes. That tenacity on the defensive end is hard to teach.

Thybulle has great footwork on the defensive end. It is a huge reason as to why he found success in both man and zone defenses. He keeps his feet squared with his shoulders and moves quickly to the spot with a good sidestep.

Thybulle was often used at the top of the key in a 2-3 zone where he contested threes. In that sense, he was used as a guard on the defensive end. With a wingspan as large as Thybulle has, it was routine for him to bully smaller guards. His elite defending is enough to make him a great candidate for the NBA. The Pacers could use a player like Thybulle in the rotation.

If his offense develops and is more consistent in the NBA, he will be a deadly three-and-D player on the wing.

The bad: He is overly aggressive at times

There are flaws to Thybulle’s game still, even on defense. While he is excellent in anticipating passes, he will be overly aggressive at times. If he jumps a lane too soon or late, shots open up. He also bites on fake passes and shots, leaving him out of position. Some of his mistakes were masked by a zone defense and don’t show up on the stat sheet.

His aggressive nature will also lead to serious foul trouble at times. Thybulle fouled out 18 times at Washington and had four fouls in 34 more games. As the competition gets stronger, faster, and better, Thybulle needs to adjust his mindset slightly.

There are too many occasions where Thybulle fails to box out on the defensive end. He already has a slim body at 195 pounds, so rebounds are tough to get as is. He tends to target the ball off the rim and grab it in traffic rather than box out nearby opponents. His reliance on his length led to his minimal rebounding numbers.

I would like to see him work on finding a body and boxing out. Rebounding is about teamwork and effort. It does not really matter who winds up with the ball, as long as it’s the good guys.

More from 8 Points, 9 Seconds

Shifting back to the offense, Thybulle had a harsh dip in shooting clips last season. His three-point shooting dropped six percent from his previous year and was over five percent worse than his career average.

He only scored 9.2 points per game for his career. One factor in his shooting struggles could be the slight hitch in his shot. Thybulle has a sudden rotation in the hips that swings his body left slightly upon release. It is a very subtle motion, but his feet switch places in air and could alter the shot at times.

I hate suggesting a player needs to change his motion, but tightening up Thybulle’s release could do wonders. His free throw numbers were also very up and down. His four seasons saw percentages of .714/.841/.714/.851, in that order.

Final verdict

The Indiana Pacers absolutely need Matisse Thybulle. He should be available at 18 or even in the 20s if they decide to trade back. His defensive expertise is too good to pass up in my opinion. He has the experience to back it up as well. As the Pacers sort out their roster for next season, Thybulle is an option that can make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball. His potential as a two-way wing is phenomenal.

Next. Hindsight 20/20 Draft Redos. dark

Matisse Thybulle is my favorite option for the Pacers as things stand. Get him in blue and gold.