Why Bulls should push hard for Matisse Thybulle in wake of trade rumors

Matisse Thybulle, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Matisse Thybulle, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Although the NBA Playoffs are still in full swing, the offseason seems to be ramping up now that the draft lottery has been decided and free agency inches ever closer. While the Chicago Bulls made a flurry of moves last summer, their roster overhaul does not appear to be complete just yet. In an effort to improve the team’s perimeter defense, the Bulls have reportedly emerged as suitors for Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle.

Just three seasons into his NBA career, Thybulle has built a reputation as one of the league’s elite defensive presences. Coming off an All-Defensive Second-Team nod in 2021, this season Thybulle managed to put together another impressive campaign where he finished first in the NBA in steal percentage, third in defensive box plus/minus, and 15th in block percentage.

Despite seeing the court just 25 minutes a night, Thybulle makes a massive impact as a role player and should be in the running for another All-Defensive Team selection. For a Bulls team that ranked 23rd in defensive rating and 27th in 3-point defense, adding a player like Thybulle to the roster could address their need for help on the defensive end and work to alleviate one of the team’s greatest weaknesses.

Sean Deveney of Heavy.com first reported on Bulls general manager Marc Eversley’s interest in Philadelphia’s forward. Whether or not the Bulls actually make a trade for Thybulle, it’s reassuring to see the front office is in tune with what we’re seeing at home and is actively identifying where this roster needs support.

The Bulls’ reported interest in Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle could help solve their defensive woes

This reported interest in Thybulle comes at a particularly interesting time, considering the young forward’s recent poor performance in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Across nine playoff games, he averaged just 3.0 points per game and only hit a horrendous 28.6% of his 3-pointers. Due to a complete lack of scoring ability, the 76ers were forced to limit Thybulle’s playtime to just 15 minutes per game.

Fortunately for Chicago, Thybulle wouldn’t need to be a knockdown shooter for the Bulls. Zach LaVine (should he re-sign with the Bulls, as expected) and DeMar DeRozan will once again carry the majority of the offensive load. Knockdown shooters Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams will also return to the rotation, while the Bulls presumably continue to look for more shooting and size in free agency.

Thybulle obviously has severe deficiencies in his offensive game. If he didn’t, he’d be a max contract player, the 76ers wouldn’t want to trade him, and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Still, doesn’t change the fact that he’s an elite specialist that could significantly raise the floor of this Bulls team. Just like Tony Allen, Bruce Bowen, and Andre Roberson before him, I believe Matisse has a place in this league as a defensive stopper.

Earlier this year, Thinking Basketball conducted an excellent breakdown of just what makes Thybulle so special on defense. At the 2:53 mark of the video, we even see how his unique defensive style is able to single-handedly shut down the dribble drive motion by LaVine and dunk attempt by Tony Bradley in the same play.

If the Bulls were to make a move for Thybulle, it certainly wouldn’t be the only significant acquisition made this summer. There are still several holes that need addressing, and Thybulle can’t fill them all by himself. What he can do, however, is help improve one of the NBA’s worst perimeter defenses and complement the chaotic defensive scheme Chicago wants to play.

With a healthy Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Thybulle all available in the rotation, the Bulls would immediately be a much improved defensive team. Chicago would be pests when patrolling the perimeter and creating turnovers that in turn open up better shot opportunities for LaVine, DeRozan, and company.

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It remains to be seen what exactly the Bulls would send back in this trade scenario, but I’m confident the duo of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley can find an agreeable price. Excuse the terrible pun, but I find the prospect of Thybulle becoming a Thy-Bull increasingly enticing.