NEW YORK — The 76ers still ended up getting apparently their targeted player in Matisse Thybulle.
The team moved up four spots in a trade with the Boston Celtics to select the former Washington swingman with the 20th pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft. Boston received the Sixers’ 24th pick and the 33rd overall selection in the second round.
It appears the Sixers were the team that promised Thybulle that they would draft him. As a result, he shut down his predraft workouts and didn’t attend the NBA predraft combine.
“Like I said before, Philly showed interest early and we just trusted them and decided we were going to put our faith in them and just kind of things down and see what happened on draft night,” Thybulle said. “They stayed true to their word and the rest is history.”
In another move, the Sixers traded Jonathon Simmons and the 42nd pick to the Washington Wizards for cash considerations. The move will free up $1 million in salary-cap space for next season. Then the Sixers traded the 34th pick to the Atlanta Hawks for two future second-round picks and the 57th pick in Thursday’s draft. They turned around and traded the 57th pick to the Detroit Pistons for $2 million and the Miami Heat 2024 second-round pick.
The Sixers also selected Iowa State swingman Marial Shayok with the 54th pick Thursday night.
But their biggest move of the night involved Thybulle. Right before his name was called, his agent whispered to him that he would be drafted by the Celtics and traded to Philly.
“It is a dream come true,” Thybulle said of being drafted by the Sixers. “I haven’t spent much time in Philly, but I have heard great things. I have family nearby [in New Jersey]. I can’t wait to play for this franchise and be a part of their new family.”
This move was made after another one of the Sixers’ primary targets, North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson, was surprisingly selected 11th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
With Johnson gone, the Sixers turned their attention to selecting Nassir Little (North Carolina) or Kevin Porter Jr. (Southern California). They were working the phones, trying to trade up from the 24th spot. But they hoped the players fell to them in the draft.
In the process, they were pleasantly surprised that Thybulle was still available. So they made the deal with the Celtics to grab him. Like Johnson, the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder was high on their list.
The 22-year-old Thybulle, who started four seasons in college, gives the Sixers an older draft pick who might be able to step right in and contribute to their eight-man rotation.
Thybulle said he can contribute right away “without a doubt."
“I feel like that is one of the reasons I stayed in college all four years,” he said, “so I could be as ready as possible when I came to the next level.”
He still needs to be a more consistent shooter. But an Eastern Conference executive said that with practice and repetition, Thybulle can become a good shooter. Thybulle made 30.5 percent of his three-pointers this season and shot 35.8 percent for his career. He’s confident in his shot.
“As I said before, three-point shooting, three-and-D, I feel I can fit into that right off the bat,” he said. “I took a step back in college and allowed some of the teammates to score and that shows with my offensive numbers, but three-point shooting comes naturally to me and I am excited to do it.”
Thybulle averaged 9.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.5 steals for the Huskies last season. He can put the ball on the floor, pass, and was thought to be the best perimeter defender in the draft. Thybulle did not work out for any NBA teams.
“There is always a place for a defender on the court, and defense has proven to help you win games, win championships,” he said. “I think if I can be as valuable as possible to a team, I feel like I need to be a defender. Added to that, in the NBA you need to be able to shoot threes at a high rate, so I bring that to the table as well.”
Shayok, a native of Ottawa, Canada, is a solid three-point shooter.
The Sixers finished with a 51-31 record this season and lost to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals.