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Charles Barkley: Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard Should’ve Been Named All-Star Game Starters

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) talks with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during a foul shot as the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Portland won 126-118. Courtesy of Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – TNT analyst Charles Barkley argued that Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and former Weber State star Damian Lillard should’ve been named 2020-21 NBA All-Star Game starters.

The starters for the NBA All-Star game were announced on Thursday, February 18.

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks were named starters for the Western Conference over the fourth-year Jazzman and the Portland Trail Blazers standout.

Following the announcement of the All-Star Game starters, Barkley said that Mitchell and Lillard would’ve been his guard choices to start for the West. Shaquille O’Neal also advocated for Lillard.

“I still think Damian Lillard should be a starter,” O’Neal said. “Time in and time out, he’s been pushed off this list. So I would have liked to have seen him as a starter.”

“What about Donovan Mitchell?” Barkley questioned.

“Popularity contest — Luka’s gonna win,” Kenny Smith responded.

Barkley went on to defend his position that his choice for starting guards in the West would’ve been Mitchell and Lillard.

Donovan Mitchell in 2020-21

This season, Mitchell is averaging a career-high 24.2 points per game. That ranks No. 17 in the league.

He is shooting 42.7 percent overall and a career-high 39.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Mitchell has led the Jazz to an NBA-best record of 24-5 through Utah’s first 29 games of the season.

After the starters were revealed, the Inside the NBA crew discussed their picks for the game’s reserves.

O’Neal, Barkley, and Ernie Johnson all picked Mitchell as a Western Conference reserve. Smith appeared to have left Mitchell off his list. Although he disputed the graphic shown on television and said that he had Mitchell in as a reserve over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul.

Other Jazz Players

In addition to Mitchell, all four broadcasters picked Jazz center Rudy Gobert as a Western Conference reserve.

However, Barkley added another Jazz player to his All-Star picks.

Barkley said that Jazz sixth man Jordan Clarkson was deserving of his first-ever All-Star nod.

“He’s been the best bench player in NBA this year. They’ve got the best record in the NBA,” Barkley said of Clarkson. “He’s been fantastic this year. That’s why I got him on my list.”

Damian Lillard in 2020-21

Like Gobert, all four broadcasters picked Lillard as a reserve.

This season, the former Weber State star is averaging 29.8 points per game, which ranks No. 3 among players.

He is shooting 45.1 percent from the field, including 38.4 percent from downtown.

Lillard has led the Blazers to an 18-10 start this season.

NBA All-Star Reserves

The All-Star reserves are selected by NBA head coaches. Seven players from each conference will be picked as reserves for the game.

All-Star Game reserves will be announced on Tuesday, February 23 at 5 p.m. (MDT) on TNT.

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