Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has put all of the jokes, friendly threats and trash talking aside to reveal what he really thinks of this season's NBA rookies.
The 24-year-old has become famous for his in-game trash talk, as well as his poking other players via social media. Rookies Mo Bamba and DeAndre Ayton, in particular, have been targeted by Embiid in recent weeks, with the Sixers star having engaged in an Instagram spat with Bamba after playing the Orlando Magic on October 3, claiming the rookie sensation was too skinny to guard him.
Ayton, who was the first overall pick in this year's draft, found himself in Embiid's crosshairs late last month. "Oh my God. He's about to get his [butt] kicked this year," the Cameroonian said of the new Phoenix Suns center during the 76ers media day.
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However, asked to name rookies other than his teammates whom he actually likes by a reporter on Thursday, Embiid - who is actually good friends with Bamba - insisted he liked all of the league's new boys despite the way he goes off on them.
"I like all of them," the center said (H/T philly.com). "I think they have a lot of potential. I think the part that people don't get when I talk trash, especially when it comes to Ayton or Mo Bamba — I'm really good friends with Mo; I like him a lot — the part that people don't get is I'm always commenting on how much potential they have and how good they can be.
"I think both of them can be really good."
Embiid also said he believes Ayton, Bamba and Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic are going to be the future of the NBA alongside himself, Ben Simmons and some other young talents.
Don’t compare Ayton to me either... I play DEFENSE— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2018
"I think they are going to be great," he remarked. "I have a lot of respect for them. It doesn't matter if they are rookies or not — they can play basketball."
Embiid still maintains Bamba can't guard him, though.
"He couldn't really guard me, which is true," he added. "That was true. But we have a past. And that's what I do. I love having fun. To me, [trash talking] is a way to have fun."