The devastating defensive impact of Sixers’ Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle
The Philadelphia 76ers have one of the best defenses in the NBA. While Joel Embiid is the anchor of the defense in the middle, the Sixers also can shut teams down thanks to their elite stoppers on the wing in Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle.
There’s one stat that illustrates just how dominant the Simmons-Thybulle duo is defensively:
Opponents turned the ball over 19.4% of the time when Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle shared the floor entering tonight's game, per @cleantheglass.
As a point of reference, the league-worst Cavs have a 15.9 turnover percentage.
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) April 27, 2021
Simmons fancies himself a Defensive Player of the Year candidate because of his ability to guard all five positions. He certainly has a good case this season, as does Embiid.
But don’t forget about just how impactful Thybulle is, even though he’s not as heralded.
In just 20.1 minutes per game, the 24-year-old is averaging 1.6 steals and a block. He’s tops in the league among rotation players in deflections per 36 minutes, per NBA.com, with Simmons also ranking well in this category.
Simmons and Thybulle are both long, rangy and athletic, making life difficult on opposing ball handlers and wreaking havoc in passing lanes. It’s a big reason why the Sixers are ranked second in defensive efficiency this season, behind only the Los Angeles Lakers.
This elite defense has Philly second in the Eastern Conference with a 40-21 record. The Sixers have suffered some slippage in the standings of late, but that coincided with Simmons (and others) missing some time amid a tough stretch of games.
As long as Philly is healthy, this is a formidable group that has a chance to win it all thanks to the ability to defend at a high level, even with an offense that currently ranks in the middle of the pack.