Joel Embiid expects rookie Deandre Ayton to struggle as he adjusts to the NBA, and Ayton should strive to prove him wrong.
Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid has never really been a man of few words. He’s always willing to speak his mind, no matter the situation.
He didn’t hold back while talking about Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2018 NBA Draft, who has drawn many comparisons to Embiid himself. Embiid expects Ayton to have tough season ahead of him as he adjusts from the college game to the NBA.
Ayton should keep these words in the back of his mind as he powers through his upcoming rookie year.
“He’s going to get his ass kicked,” Embiid said during an interview on ESPN’s The Jump.
While it initially might come off as disrespectful, Embiid clearly didn’t mean it in that manner. He has plenty of respect for Ayton’s game, but professional basketball is a completely different animal than college basketball. Very few players have made an immediate jump to dominance as a rookie in the NBA. There are almost always some growing pains.
“I watched him play and he’s got a lot of work to do,” Embiid said. “But he’s got a lot of potential. He’s going to be really good.”
Even though Embiid wasn’t disrespecting Ayton, the rookie out of Arizona can still use his words as a form of motivation. He was hands down the best player in the draft, and he’s expected to return a currently downtrodden Phoenix Suns franchise back to prominence. Luckily for him, he won’t be a one-man team this year either (like many No. 1 overall picks are) because he’ll be teaming with Devin Booker, one of the NBA’s best up-and-coming young players. That is, after Booker returns from having hand surgery.
There will probably be a few growing pains for Ayton, but there would be nothing sweeter for him than to prove Embiid wrong and make an immediate impact in the NBA. It might not quite be bulletin board material, but hopefully Embiid’s words will light a fire under the rookie big man.