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Budding YouTube star Matisse Thybulle focused only on basketball as he starts his second Sixers season

Thybulle established himself as a quality NBA defensive player, and he'll look to become a prolific three-point shooter this season. And he'll put his video side gig on hold.

The Sixers' Matisse Thybulle dunks against the Pistons in the last game before the pandemic shut down the season.
The Sixers' Matisse Thybulle dunks against the Pistons in the last game before the pandemic shut down the season.Read moreSteven M. Falk / File Photograph

As a rookie last season, Matisse Thybulle earned a reputation as a master thief and a budding videographer. As he enters his second year with the Sixers, Thybulle is all business. At least for now, creating videos will be put on hold.

The 6-foot-5 Thybulle figures to be a key part of new coach Doc Rivers’ rotation, either as a starter or coming off the bench. He finished second in the NBA in steals per 36 minutes (2.6). Only Kris Dunn, then with Chicago and now with Atlanta, with 2.9, was ahead of Thybulle.

Thybulle, 23, was the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. His rights were acquired from the Boston Celtics in a draft night deal.

As for his video work, while the Sixers were in the bubble during the NBA’s restart in Kissimmee, Fla., Thybulle began producing a documentary series on life in the bubble. Throughout the Sixers’ stay, which lasted from July 9 until they were eliminated from the playoffs on Aug. 23, Thybulle provided an inside look at what life was like for an NBA player in the bubble atmosphere.

The videos received rave reviews. For instance, the first one he made has received nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube.

When asked during the second day of training camp on Wednesday if he plans to continue producing the videos, he said things for now will be on hiatus.

“For me, it is always like, I have to put basketball first and to have so much newness with the new coaches, new players, offense and defense,” he said. “So I feel like if I am in a place where I’m comfortable with all of that and I have a good grasp of what is needed of me, then yeah, I’ll start doing some video stuff, but until then I’m probably going to be all basketball until I can get that.”

Thybulle says he was gratified at the response he received for his video work. One of the people who complimented him was noted YouTube personality Casey Neistat.

“I really enjoy his stuff and his craft and to have him reach out to me and be like ‘Man, I love your stuff,’ was pretty cool,” Thybulle said. “It’s a nice little accomplishment to kind of have off the court as something that is just a hobby that turned into something a lot of people like.”

Last season Thybulle averaged 4.7 points in 19.8 minutes. During the four playoff games he averaged 1.8 points in 18.8 minutes.

While Thybulle is noted much more for his defense, increased offense should be expected of him, especially since Rivers is expected to run a more up-tempo attack.

One aspect of his game that Thybulle definitely will look to improve is his three-point shooting. For the season he shot 35.7%, which was just below the NBA average last season (35.8%). However, in his final 35 regular-season games, Thybulle shot 27.8% from beyond the arc. In the four playoff games he was 1 for 4.

“I think that three-point shooting is going to be an emphasis for the rest of my career and I don’t think I will ever be as good as I want to be at it,” he said.

The Sixers return three starters – All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. It’s possible that Thybulle could move into the role vacated by Josh Richardson, who was traded along with the 36th pick in the draft to Dallas for Seth Curry, but says he hasn’t given it much thought.

“I really don’t think in those terms if I’m being honest,” he said about starting. “I came into this last season just wanting to be part of the team and be part of our success in whatever way that took form, and I was lucky enough to actually start a couple of games, which his not something I expected to really plan for.”

Last season he started 14 of 65 regular-season games and one of the four playoff contests.

“Even though it’s a clean slate for most people and sure, I may have a little bit of advantage because I was here last year, it’s a new coach,” he said. “I feel like I have to prove myself again and we will just see what happens.”