Did the Celtics fleece the Sixers again?

Andrew Porter
June 21, 2019 - 8:46 am

For the second NBA Draft in three years, it looks like the Boston Celtics may have duped the Philadelphia 76ers involving a player out of the University of Washington. 

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On Thursday night, according to ESPN NBA Draft analyst and reporter Jonathan Givony, the Celtics took advantage of the Sixers' interest in Washington foward Matisse Thybulle. Boston reportedly knew about Philly's strong pre-draft interest in Thybulle, so they selected him with the 20th overall pick and flipped him to Philly for picks 24 and 33. 

Thybulle did not work out for any other NBA teams. 

"Philly showed interest early and we just trusted them and decided that we were going to put our faith in them and kind of shut things down," Thybulle said via The Athletic's Derek Bodner

In 2017, of course, Boston moved back in the draft passing on Washington guard Markelle Fultz and selecting Jayson Tatum, while gathering an extra future first-round pick from Philly. Bryan Colangelo was the general manager then, Elton Brand is the general manager now. 

The Sixers, who had five picks in Thursday's draft, came away with just two players. The other selection was 23-year-old Canadian shooting guard Marial Shayok with pick No. 54. Shayok played for three seasons at Virginia before playing his senior year at Iowa State. Shayok shot 49.6 FG% / 38.6 3FG% / 87.8 FT% as a senior, averaging 18.7 points per game. 

“Picks, they’re worth a certain amount," Brand said. "For us, I don’t think we can add. I don’t think, I know we can’t add five young players to this established team."

As for Thybulle, he could make this whole draft worth it. Thybulle, a 22-year-old 6'5" wing, was the best defensive player in the draft. In 2019, he won Naismith Defensive Player of the Year averaging a ridiculous 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game as a senior. Offensively, Thybulle needs to improve. He shot 30.5-percent from three on 4.2 attempts during his senior campaign, but did shot an encouraging 85-percent from the foul line. 

Adding Thybulle and second-year player Zhaire Smith (who missed most of his entire rookie season after an allergic reaction) to a roster with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid gives Philadelphia an incredibly strong foundation on defense. Neither Thybulle nor Smith, nor Simmons for that matter, commands shots on offense, which can be a selling point for the front-office when trying to re-sign their own free-agents in Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, and JJ Redick. 

Related: It sounds like Tobias Harris wants to stay in Philly

In the disastrous scenario that Philadelphia is unable to retain any of Butler, Harris, or Redick, scoring will instantly become a dire need.