The No. 1 overall pick from this summer’s draft is already making a bold statement to one of the NBA’s top big men—through a Panini sketch card. The Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton was recently given free reign to design a rookie card of himself and did so in a way to suggest he’ll be going after Philadephia’s Joel Embiid this coming season. The resulting sketch will be part of an upcoming subset in Panini’s NBA trading cards, but the fallout from what it depicts could provide some interesting NBA battles.
It all started at draft time when Ayton’s ability drew comparisons to Embiid, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. That got Embiid’s attention and the Sixers star tweeted his reply:
Don’t compare Ayton to me either… I play DEFENSE
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2018
Members of the 2018-19 NBA rookie class were in New York for photo shoots this past weekend. While there, the players got a chance to make their own sketches for personalized NBA rookie cards. Ayton, who isn’t the world’s best sketch artist, drew up the result of a play in which he is dunking on an opponent. Rather than make it some generic player, Ayton put that opponent in a No. 21 jersey with “PHI” written on it.
— Panini America (@PaniniAmerica) August 10, 2018
The sketch will be part of an upcoming Panini America rookie sketch series. Of course, Embiid once again tweeted back at his future rival:
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) August 12, 2018
The good-natured (we think) back and forth stokes a nice fire for the upcoming season. Ayton and Embiid will square off in Philadelphia November 19 and again in Phoenix on January 2.