While Phoenix Suns fans are excited about Deandre Ayton as a potential franchise cornerstone, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid believes the No. 1 overall pick may have a tough time transitioning to the NBA.
"He's about to get his ass kicked this year," Embiid said on ESPN's The Jump on Friday, h/t ESPN.com.
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols
So Joel Embiid joined me and Stephen Jackson on #TheJump today - when we asked him about Deandre Ayton, he said "he's about to get his ass kicked this year." 👀 We also chatted about his MVP aspirations, and how many games the Sixers will win this season (65?????) https://t.co/naoV21CwZu
This isn't the first time Embiid has had harsh words for Ayton, either. As the 7'1", 250-pound former Arizona Wildcats star drew comparisons to the 7'0", 250-pound NBA All-Star on draft night, Embiid took to Twitter to point out one major difference in the big men's games:
That would just be the beginning of this rivalry. Later in the summer, Ayton drew himself dunking on Embiid on a sketch card.
And while Embiid has been critical of his fellow center early on, he acknowledged on The Jump that Ayton has the potential to be a very good player in the NBA, as long as he puts in the work:
"He's going to be good. But when you talk about 'He looks like Joel Embiid,' I play on both sides of the court. I think I'm a good offensive player, good defensive player. I do it on both ends of the floor. I watched him play and he's got a lot of work to do. But he's got a lot of potential. He's going to be really good."
Embiid, of course, never shies away from an opportunity to smack talk. When healthy, the 24-year-old is one of the best and most versatile players in the league. He is coming off his first All-Star selection and helped the Sixers snap a five-year playoff drought.
And while Embiid has established himself as an All-Star, Phoenix star Devin Booker took notice of the words directed at his new teammate:
The expectations for Ayton are high after being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in June—but Embiid refuses to buy into the hype until the first-year center proves himself as a pro.
The Suns and Sixers will meet twice during the regular season, Nov. 19 at Philadelphia and Jan. 2 in Phoenix.