DeAndre Ayton Enjoys First Match-Up Against Joel Embiid
One of the bigger storylines for the Sixers heading into Monday night's game against the Suns was the first meeting of Joel Embiid and rookie DeAndre Ayton. Prior to the season, national media compared Ayton's game to Embiid's and Joel didn't like that and let people know on social media and live on ESPN.
"He's going to be good," Embiid told ESPN's Rachel Nichols and Stephen Jackson on Sixers media day. "But when you talk about 'He looks like Joel Embiid,' I play on both sides of the court."
Ayton and Embiid went head-to-head on Monday night and Joel led his team to victory, scoring 33 points to go along with 17 rebounds and a +18 on the night. The Sixers big man worked his magic in the post against Ayton as the rookie finished with five personal fouls in 17 minutes. Ayton scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, showing plenty of flashes as to why he was picked first. After the game, Ayton was very complimentary of Embiid, who he deems as one of the NBA's unicorns.
"That was a fun game. It was fun because i finally got to play against Joel Embiid," Ayton said with a smile. "Just to see how he uses his body. Obviously he's one of the unicorns in the league, but how he uses his body down low...so I'm just about to copy all of that."
In 16 games this season, Ayton is averaging 16.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The Sixers and Suns will play the second and final game of their season series in Phoenix on January 2.