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Bucks Trade Candidate: Matisse Thybulle

Someone PLEASE defend!

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks appear as if they will be buyers heading toward the NBA trade deadline as they continue recalibrating to the reality of being an offense-first team under rookie head coach Adrian Griffin. Between now and the February 8 deadline, the Brew Hoop staff will be highlighting potential trade targets for the Bucks. Jackson Gross began the series with a profile of Utah Jazz guard Kris Dunn, and today we continue by circling back to the Bucks’ most recent trade partner: the Portland Trail Blazers and their wing Matisse Thybulle.

The Player

Matisse Thybulle, 26, 6’5”, 201 lb., shooting guard/small forward

Season averages: 5.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .425/.381/.750

With a defense that has left much to be desired over the first half of the season, especially on the wing, it stands to reason that the Bucks would target a player who has defined his career on that end of the court. Thybulle entered the NBA as the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and became a stopper for the Philadelphia 76ers in short order. His stats bear this out with a career 3.3 defensive box plus/minus and 1.5 steals per game—just a tick off his current season average of 1.6 steals per game, which slots Thybulle in the top five of the league in that category. The two-time All-Defensive team member (2021 and 2022) currently leads the league with a 3.4% steal percentage as well, which is the same number he recorded when finishing first in the category during the 2021–2022 season.

The Trade

When looking for the much sought-after 3-and-D player that title contenders always covet, Thybulle fits the mold and projects as an exceptional trade target for the Bucks.

After matching the Dallas Mavericks’ offer sheet during his restricted free agency last summer, the Blazers also agreed to the contractual stipulation that Thybulle cannot be included in any trade without his consent, although swapping settings from a Western Conference bottom-feeder to a top-two team in the Eastern Conference would presumably be palatable for all parties.

The trade itself, however, may be tricky. Portland knows what it has in Thybulle as a trade asset and the organization is well aware that it is in rebuilding mode as it develops young talent like Shaedon Sharpe and Scoot Henderson. Thybulle’s contract runs at $10.5 million this season then increases to approximately $11 million and $11.5 million in the following seasons, respectively. This would make him a relatively cost-controlled asset should the Bucks choose to move on from him down the line, but for the time being, the salary portion can be matched relatively easily. Connaughton’s $9.4 million annual salary combines with Beauchamp’s $2.6 million salary for this season while the Bucks can also add the 2024 second-round pick that they currently own (which originally belonged to the Blazers to begin with and has bounced around the league through various transactions over the past four years).

Aside from the boost this would give the Bucks, Portland would receive another veteran with championship experience to flip in former Blazer Connaughton as it did in the Holiday-Lillard trade prior to the season beginning. The Blazers would also be able to take a look at Beauchamp as a part of their young wing rotation next to Jabari Walker and Kris Murray before he becomes an entirely known quantity outside of the confines of Wisconsin state lines. With his rookie-scale contract, Portland would have a bevy of options to either keep Beauchamp on board, include him in further transactions, or let him walk in order to free up cap space if they decide he is not an organizational fit. The second-round pick, of course, could supplement their roster in further years if they find a role player in the draft or it could be used in subsequent trades.

The Fit

Having lost four of six games since the calendar turned over to 2024 and given up an average of 125.8 points per contest over that span—including 142 points to an Indiana Pacers squad that has been the Bucks’ personal nightmare—it goes without saying that the Bucks’ paltry defense would be immediately upgraded by adding Thybulle or a player of a similar archetype. Currently ranked nineteenth in the league per NBA Stats, the Bucks’ defense can sometimes be confused for turnstiles, leaving rim defenders like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez scrambling along the back line.

Thybulle would make life in Milwaukee easier for his teammates while subsequently making things harder for opponents, which will be a necessity in the postseason as games slow down and the team is lined up against dynamic players like Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brunson, and Tyrese Maxey. The fifth-year wing could be asked to defend other teams’ best players much like Jrue Holiday often was during his Bucks tenure, locking down the point of attack and stymieing sets. Also like Holiday, Thybulle’s defensive versatility could allow Griffin more options for Antetokounmpo’s assignments and where defensive minuses could be strategically hidden if a matchup offers such an opportunity. Also notable is that Thybulle is averaging a career-low in personal fouls at just 1.2 per game while averaging 23.1 minutes per night. None of the Bucks’ consistent rotation players save for Pat Connaughton foul so infrequently.

Perhaps more importantly, though, Thybulle has quietly added a consistent outside shot to his profile since the mid-season trade that landed him in Portland last season. Since becoming a Blazer, he has made over 38% of the three-point shots he’s attempted — a figure that has also increased drastically. Before the trade, 54.3% of Thybulle’s shots were being slung from long-range; upon becoming a Blazer, that figure increased to 62% and is tracking just over 80% so far in the 2023–2024 season. For perspective, were Thybulle added to Milwaukee’s roster today, he would technically be the team’s fifth-best three-point shooter, with none of the players ahead of him (Chris Livingston, Jae Crowder, TyTy Washington Jr., and Robin Lopez) having played more than 10 games or taken a significant number of shots so far. Likewise, his diet of shots would put him behind only A.J. Green in three-point attempt rate on the season.

At 26 with a birthday coming up in March, Thybulle would also add some youth to a roster that has been on the older side of NBA teams in recent seasons thanks to an aging core and veteran additions hoping to secure championship rings before their tanks fully run out. The buyout market will likely be rife with more such players looking for an opportunity with the Bucks, but adding Thybulle would allow those potential additions to be bolstering options rather than roster lynchpins—an ideal scenario entering the stretch run of the regular season.

We’ll be back next week with more Bucks trade candidates, but until then, let us know what you think of this trade. Is it too much/not enough to give up? Does Thybulle not interest you at all? If so, who does?