Shaquille O'Neal beat Charles Barkley to the punch Thursday night, selecting both Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes before Barkley could pick either for the Rising Stars Challenge - a showcase of the league's best rookies and sophomores during All-Star weekend.
Maybe O'Neal was listening hours before the draft was televised for a national audience, when Barkley hinted to reporters about his draft strategy and oozed praise for the Warriors' gifted wing players.
Or maybe O'Neal wanted to prove his opposing Rising Stars general manager wrong, after Barkley suddenly shifted course during the pre-show conference call with fellow TNT analyst Kenny Smith and NBA TV analyst Steve Smith and offered a startling prediction for the Warriors' future.
"Now comes the problem they're going to have," Barkley said, setting up a playful back-and-forth. "You have got to play Barnes, but you have to make a decision between Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. They're both terrific players, but I'm not sure they can play together."
Kenny Smith: "What?!"
Barkley: "I don't think they can play together."
Kenny Smith: "OK. OK. We'll see."
Steve Smith: "You're talking about Steph and Klay Thompson?"
Barkley: "I do not, because, if you've got those two guys in there (and Jarrett Jack is playing point guard), Barnes is not in the game."
Kenny Smith: "So, you're saying you don't like Steph at the point?"
Barkley: "I don't like Steph at the point. I do like him at the 2 (shooting guard), because he needs the ball. I mean, he's a scorer. I'm getting him the ball. But if you move Thompson to the 3 (small forward), then you have to take Barnes out of the game."


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