Giannis on Khris Middleton's All-Star Game Snub: 'Bottom Line, He's an All-Star'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Khris Middleton question a referee during the second quarter of their 111-100 loss to the Boston Celtics in an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo praised teammate Khris Middleton after he wasn't selected as one of the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves Tuesday.

"Actually, it was kind of surprising," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "To me, Khris is an All-Star. All-Star player. Not to disrespect any of the other players that made the team, they're all having great, great seasons, but Khris is an All-Star. Bottom line, he's an All-Star."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer also expressed his support for the ninth-year forward following Tuesday night's 139-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves:

"We feel like Khris is an All-Star. We feel like he deserves it. The numbers and everything, his efficiency and what he does in a game on both ends of the court is very special. But you never want to take away from, you know, there's a lot of guys that are deserving. The players that were selected, I would never say they are not always deserving, but he's in our locker room. He's with us. We certainly feel like he's an All-Star and proven it and proved it again this year."

Middleton added he was "a little disappointed" by being left off the All-Star roster but congratulated those who were selected instead.

The 29-year-old Texas A&M product, who made the All-Star Game each of the past two years, joined the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker and Utah Jazz's Mike Conley Jr. among the top players who weren't voted to make the trip to Atlanta for the midseason showcase.

Middleton has averaged 20.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.2 steals across 32 appearances. He's shooting 49.8 percent from the field, including 43.4 percent from three-point range, and he ranks second to the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James among small forwards in ESPN's offensive RPM.

While he put together a strong case for a third straight All-Star selection, and he could still make it if players are removed because of injury, both the East and West groups are stacked, so it's just as difficult to argue against any of the choices made by the fans and coaches.

Middleton, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are back in action Thursday night when they host All-Star Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans in a nationally broadcast game on TNT.Β Β