The NBA announced the starters for the 2023 All-Star Game on Thursday. As is often the case, some fans and pundits took issue with some of the results.
In the Eastern Conference, the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo was named captain, while the Nets’ Kevin Durant and the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum were named the other front-court starters. The Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving were named backcourt starters from the east.
Skip Bayless shared the same frustration as many other NBA fans: How could 76ers star Joel Embiid not be a starter?
“I have Joel Embiid as MVP,” Bayless said on Friday’s Undisputed show. “I keep telling you this because this team keeps proving to be the best in the east. So I don’t see how you can keep Joel away from the first three. I look at how the players voted, they voted for Embiid the third starter.
“The fans don’t like it [Joel] Emboid. He trolls a lot and I think it might hurt him with the fan vote because I think they don’t trust him. He’s been hurt too badly throughout his career. He was sick and injured. There’s always something wrong with him.”
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, much of the attention was focused on who would be the underdog among Eastern Conference frontcourts. Antetokounmpo ranks fourth in the league in scoring (31 ppg) and second in rebounds (12 rpg) and leads the Bucks to the third-best record in the conference (31-17 on Friday). Durant ranks eighth in the ratings (29.7 ppg) and has added 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while helping the Nets to a 27-13 record before his Jan. 8 knee injury.
Tatum is third in the league (31.1 ppg) and has helped the Celtics hold the best record in the NBA for most of the season. While Shannon Sharpe pointed out that Tatum was the best player on the best team, Bayless believes Embiid trumps him.
“I watched Boston a lot and I don’t know if you saw them against the Knicks last night, but the whole team came out small,” Bayless said. “[Tatum] had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation because they had one last hooray and he looked really good which surprised me. He didn’t do much overtime. I can’t wrap my arm around Boston much. They lost to Orlando three times in a row, [Miami] and the Knicks.”
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo named All-Star starters
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe react to NBA All-Star Game starters announcement on ‘Undisputed’
In the Western Conference, LeBron James was named captain by the Lakers Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Zion Williamson of the Pelicans were the other two frontcourt starters. Steph Curry of the Warriors and Lukas Doncic the Mavericks were called the backfield starters from the west.
Sharpe’s biggest criticism was that Williamson was named a starter because he’s only played in 29 of 49 games this season.
“I would have taken [Domantas] Sabonis,” Sharpe said. “He averages 18 points per game. He leads the league with 12.4 rebounds per game and has seven assists per game. And he shoots 60% from the field. His team is also third in the west. Or I would have taken Lauri Markkanen. He averages 24.5 points with 8.5 rebounds per game at 52% shooting and 43% from the 3-point line.
“Sabonis or Markkanen definitely should have started with Zion.”
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will take place on February 19 in Salt Lake City.
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