Deandre Ayton on Joel Embiid: ‘I’m about to copy all of that’

Nov 20, 2018, 8:03 AM | Updated: 2:03 pm

This isn’t a tense, individual Suns-76ers rivalry built from pointed jabs through social media.

Instead, the Deandre Atyon-Joel Embiid draft night tiff was playful banter and a precursor to mutual respect between a rookie who went first overall in 2018’s draft and an established NBA star.

Philadelphia’s Embiid got the best of his big man counterpart Monday in a 119-114 Sixers win over the Phoenix Suns, scoring 33 points to go with 17 rebounds and three steals.

Ayton, meanwhile, held up solidly, scoring 17 to go with nine rebounds. He shot 8-of-11 from the field for the Suns.

“It was fun because I finally played against Joel Embiid,” Ayton said after the game. “Obviously he’s one of the unicorns in the league. How he used his body down low, I’m about to copy all of that.

“I’m just going to take that. I’m just going to steal it.”

Through Twitter on draft night, Embiid pleaded for analysts and fans to stop comparing him to Ayton — because he plays defense. Ayton later responded with a stick-figure drawing of himself dunking on Embiid during a Panini trading card event.

Although Embiid already had calmed any sense of animosity toward Ayton with an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump,” he used Monday night to once again clarify his respect for Ayton, who the Sixers star said he’s texted with.

“A lot of people misunderstand me; I talk a lot of trash,” Embiid said, per the Associated Press. “He’s talented and has a lot of potential. I loved playing against him tonight. I can’t wait for the multiple battles we’ll have in the future. I’m a big fan.”

Of course, Ayton has a lot of room to improve if he has aspirations of reaching Embiid’s level.

The Sixers big man leads the NBA in free throws taken by a margin of 43 (Kevin Durant) after Monday night and as the NBA’s best foul-initiator helped to draw 34 personal fouls on Phoenix. Suns guard Devin Booker fouled out, while Ayton, Mikal Bridges, T.J. Warren and Isaiah Canaan all had five personals by the end of the game.

That was one lesson of many unique to Ayton, who said he is still learning how referees call him and wants to get favorable whistles just as Embiid did Monday.

“I think this is the first game I spoke to the refs. Were my hands in the way, were they not? How I got that foul, just learning,” Ayton said.

“Thank you for teaching me a lot of things about how this league works,” he added. “(Embiid) put in a lot of work, I got to put in a lot of work, too.”

Penguin Air


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Adelaide 36ers' Antonius Cleveland (1) tips off against Phoenix Suns' Deandre Anton (22) during the...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns stressing ‘habit stamina’ throughout preseason

The Phoenix Suns will be focusing on building back up their habits during the next three preseason games before the regular season.
22 hours ago
Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns attends the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Pho...
Arizona Sports

Report: Robert Sarver selected bank to oversee sale of Suns, Mercury

Suspended Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver has selected the investment bank Moelis and Co. to "oversee the sale" of the franchises.
22 hours ago
Head coach Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half against t...
Arizona Sports

Suns’ Monty Williams doesn’t ‘need to air anything out’ with Deandre Ayton

Monty Williams on Tuesday addressed the comments by Deandre Ayton from a week prior that the two hadn't talked since the end of last season.
22 hours ago
Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges, left, celebrates with forward Cameron Johnson (23) during the s...
Kellan Olson

The Twins: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson are Phoenix Suns’ heart and soul

Inside the bond between Phoenix Suns forwards Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson that makes them known as The Twins.
22 hours ago
Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92's Victor Wembanyama stretches during a team practice Monday, Oc...
Associated Press

Vegas hosts top prospect Victor Wembanyama, Suns-Lakers this week

Two games for top prospect Victor Wembanyama and two NBA preseason games will be held in the Las Vegas area this week.
22 hours ago
Al McCoy honored as a gold circle member of the Rocky Mountain Emmys on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Ph...
Arizona Sports

Voice of the Suns Al McCoy honored by Rocky Mountain Emmys

Phoenix Suns play-by-play man Al McCoy on Friday was honored by being inducted to the gold circle of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter.
2 days ago
Deandre Ayton on Joel Embiid: ‘I’m about to copy all of that’