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#pounditThursday, June 20, 2024

Charles Barkley takes issue with 1 NBA starter selection

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s All-Star starters were revealed on Thursday, and Charles Barkley took issue with one selection, for a good reason.

Barkley disagreed with Zion Williamson being named a starter in the Western Conference.

Williamson has averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on 60.8 percent shooting this season. His New Orleans Pelicans are also 26-23, which places them fourth in the West.

Barkley’s big issue with Zion isn’t with his play, but with the Pelicans star’s availability.

“I hope he doesn’t take this the wrong way … but he’s missed too many games in my opinion,” Barkley said of Williamson. “I would have went with Sabonis or Markkanen. That’s just my personal preference, because I don’t think you can miss 20 games in the first half of the season. I just don’t think that’s fair.”

Williamson has only played in 29 of his team’s 49 games. He’s missed over 40 percent of their games — that’s a lot.

The other players Barkley mentioned were Domantas Sabonis and Lauri Markkanen. Sabonis has averaged 18.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists on 60.6 percent shooting this season. Sabonis has played in 45 of his Sacramento Kings’ 47 games, and he is playing through an injury. Markkanen has averaged 24.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Utah Jazz while playing in 46 of 51 games.

Barkley is absolutely right that availability should matter. But in the end, the All-Star Game is largely a fan event, and Williamson is a fan favorite, which helps explain how he snagged the spot.

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