Charles Barkley is batting for the inclusion of Utah Jazz super sub Jordan Clarkson in next month’s NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.
The NBA legend and studio analyst for the popular Inside the NBA included the Fil-American guard in his list of Western Conference reserves for the midseason event due to his impressive showing for the league-leading Jazz.
“He’s been the best bench player this year (and) they got the best record in the NBA,” Barkley said after the All-Star starters were announced on TNT’s NBA Tip-Off show. “You know, most people don’t know this but he has been fantastic and that’s why I got him on my list.”
When fellow Inside the NBA hosts Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith asked for his reason to include Clarkson instead of Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis, Barkley explained that the Jazz reserve is having a better year compared to the multi-time All-Star.
Barkley was the only member of the crew who didn’t pick Davis as one of his reserves.
“He is not playing like an All-Star. This is not a lifetime achievement award,” said Barkley. “We’re about who has the best year, not who’s the better player.
“Is Anthony Davis a better player? Yes. But Anthony Davis is not playing like an All-Star this year,” Barkley later said.
Clarkson is having the best season of his career, averaging 18.2 points on 45-percent shooting with 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 28 games for the Jazz. He is already being considered as the frontrunner for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Utah currently holds a 24-5 record, best in the NBA, after winning nine straight and 20 of the last 21 games.
The NBA is pushing through with its annual midseason spectacle, albeit in a more subdued manner due to COVID-19, on March 7 in Atlanta despite criticisms that the exhibition game should not be held because of the pandemic.
Seven reserves from both the Eastern and Western Conference will be named next week during TNT’s Tip-Off program.