Philadelphia 76ers: 3 players who exceeded expectations in 2019-20

Matisse Thybulle | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Matisse Thybulle | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers came into the 2019-20 season with high expectations and were picked by many to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. However, by the time the NBA suspended the season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sixers were nowhere near the championship-caliber squad that they were originally believed to be. Marred by clunky fits, numerous injuries, and road woes, the Sixers found themselves sixth in the Eastern Conference when they played their final game on March 11.

Although the team, as a whole, failed to reach virtually all of their lofty expectations, several players played above theirs. Here are three players who exceeded their preseason expectations.

3. Matisse Thybulle

When the Sixers traded with the rival Boston Celtics to move up and acquire Matisse Thybulle on draft night, some wondered if the young wing was worth the conceded draft capital. Luckily for the Sixers, Thybulle has been well worth the trade, as he has been one of the team’s most important players in only his rookie season.

Before the hiatus, Thybulle was averaging 4.7 points and shooting 35 percent from three. Although he is limited offensively, Thybulle, the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year in his final season at the University of Washington, is a menace on the defensive end.

On the season, he is averaging 2.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes while coming in as the NBA’s 12th best defender according to FiveThirtyEight. Often guarding the opposing team’s best player, Thybulle’s defense has been game-changing and has produced some of the season’s best highlights. He’s been a key cog in a Sixers defense that posted the sixth-best defensive rating before the season came to a screeching halt.

While most of the active roster has underwhelmed, Thybulle’s play (not to mention his TikToks) has been one of the brightest spots of an otherwise gloomy season. He’s already proven to be one of the most important players on the team and has cemented his role in the rotation for years to come.