The NBA announced the starters for the 2023 All-Star Game on Thursday. As is often the case, a number of fans and pundits disagreed with some of the results.
In the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks was named captain, with Kevin Durant of the Nets and Jayson Tatum of the Celtics as other frontcourt starters. Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell and Nets’ Kyrie Irving were named East backcourt starters.
Skip Bayless shared the same frustration as many other NBA fans: How could 76ers star Joel Embiid not start?
“I have Joel Embiid as the MVP,” Bayless said on Friday’s “Undisputed.” “I keep telling you this because this team continues to emerge as the best in the East. So, I don’t know how you can keep Joel out of the top three. I see how the players voted, they voted Embiid the third starter.
“The fans don’t like it [Joel] Embiid. He trolls a lot and I think it could hurt him with the fan vote because I don’t think they trust him. He’s been hurt too much throughout his career. He has been sick and injured. Something always happens to him.”
In the lead-up to Thursday’s announcement, much of the attention was focused on who would be the odd man out among the Eastern Conference’s frontcourt players. Antetokounmpo ranks fourth in the league in scoring (31 ppg) and second in rebounding (12 rpg) while leading the Bucks to the conference’s third-best record (31-17 entering Friday). Durant ranks eighth in scoring (29.7 points per game) and has 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while helping the Nets to a 27-13 record before his knee injury on 8 of January
Tatum is third in the league in scoring (31.1 points per game) and has helped the Celtics maintain the best record in the NBA for much of the season. While Shannon Sharpe pointed out that Tatum has been the best player on the best team, Bayless believes Embiid surpasses him.
“I’ve been watching Boston a lot and I don’t know if you saw them last night against the Knicks, but the whole team was small,” Bayless said. “[Tatum] had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation because they had a last hurrah, and it looked really good, which surprised me. Didn’t do much in overtime. I can’t wrap my arm around Boston much. They have lost three straight against Orlando, [Miami] and the Knicks.”
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo named All-Star starters
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe react to the announcement of the NBA All-Star Game headliners on “Undisputed.”
In the Western Conference, LeBron James of the Lakers was named captain, while Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Zion Williamson of the Pelicans were named the other two frontcourt starters. Steph Curry of the Warriors and Luka Doncic of the Mavericks were named the West’s backcourt starters.
Sharpe’s biggest complaint was that Williamson was named the starter because he has only played in 29 of 49 games this season.
“I would have taken it [Domantas] Sabonis,” Sharpe said. “He’s averaging 18 points a game. He leads the league in rebounding with 12.4 rebounds per game and has seven assists per game. And he’s shooting 60% from the field. His team is also third in the West. Or he would have taken Lauri Markkanen. He is averaging 24.5 points with 8.5 rebounds per game on 52% shooting and 43% from the 3-point line.
“Sabonis or Markkanen definitely should have started for Zion.”
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will take place on February 19 in Salt Lake City.
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