Not surprisingly, after the first round of All-Star ballot returns, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the top vote-getters in their respective conferences.
The league announced the 15 forwards and 10 guards leading each conference in votes in a press release Thursday.
James leads all players with 609,336 votes, while Durant is close behind with 607,407. Paul George is a distant second in the East (489,335), followed by Carmelo Anthony (424,211), Dwyane Wade (396,279) and Kyrie Irving (365,712).
After Durant in the West, it’s Kobe Bryant (501,215), Chris Paul (393,313), Stephen Curry (327,449), Dwight Howard (295,120) and Blake Griffin (292,925).
The 2014 All-Star game will be held in New Orleans on Sunday, February 16. For the first time, the league has eliminated the center position from the ballot, classifying players as either guards or forwards. The decision could create some interesting starting lineups. If voting ended today, James, George and Anthony would start in the Eastern Conference frontcourt opposite Durant, Howard and Griffin for the West. In that scenario, James would likely be forced to play center.
Looking at the voting, there are already several questionable candidates. Bryant – currently in line to start in the West backcourt – has played just two games since returning from knee surgery last week. Rajon Rondo, who is yet to take the court this season, ranks sixth among Eastern Conference guards. And perhaps most surprisingly, Steve Nash has garnered nearly 5,000 more votes than Damian Lillard despite averaging 6.7 points in just seven contests. Lillard is averaging 20.7 points and 5.6 assists for the first-place Blazers.
Shockingly, no Bucks cracked the rankings, and, barring an unfathomable catastrophe involving about 30 of the Eastern Conference’s top players, that isn’t going to change over the next two months. Milwaukee has not had an All-Star since Michael Redd in the 2003-04 season.
Aside from the traditional method of voting online at NBA.com, the league has expanded to include social media in recent years. This season, fans can vote via Instagram. Per the league’s press release:
“Fans can use Instagram to vote by posting an original photo, using #NBABallot and the player’s first and last name in the photo caption. Fans can vote for 10 unique players per day.
For the second year in a row, NBA fans can vote via social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter. Twitter voting allows fans to tweet a vote for 10 unique players each day throughout the All-Star balloting period. The tweet must include the player’s first and last name, along with hash tag #NBABallot. Facebook voting allows fans to comment on official league, team, or international NBA All-Star Facebook pages by commenting below the post with #NBABallot and the player’s first and last name. Voters can select 10 unique players per day.”
Exciting stuff. Balloting concludes on January 20, and starters will be announced on January 23.
While Milwaukee may not send any players to the All-Star Game, it’s possible the franchise will still be represented. Both John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo seem to be candidates for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on February 14. Formerly known as the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, the league opted to blend the two classes beginning in 2012. Two celebrity captains are chosen to select players for each squad. Last season, Charles Barkley’s team defeated Shaquille O’Neal’s squad 163-135 behind 40 points from Kenneth Faried. While the All-Star Game itself has become slightly more competitive of late, the Rising Stars Challenge is yet to follow suit, which could lead to some serious Giannis dunks should he make the cut.
Here is the complete list of leading vote-getters:
1. LeBron James (Mia) 609,336
2. Paul George (Ind) 489,335
3. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 424,211
4. Roy Hibbert (Ind) 208,369
5. Chris Bosh (Mia) 156,364
6. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 102,825
7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 75,229
8. Jeff Green (Bos) 55,912
9. Luol Deng (Chi) 54,340
10. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 51,738
11. Andre Drummond (Det) 51,351
12. Carlos Boozer (Chi) 48,745
13. Paul Pierce (BKN) 45,145
14. Brook Lopez (BKN) 37,153
15. Josh Smith (Det) 32,025
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 396,279
2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 365,712
3. Derrick Rose (Chi) 272,410
4. John Wall (Was) 124,851
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 99,464
6. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 80,889
7. Deron Williams (BKN) 44,282
8. George Hill (Ind) 42,536
9. Evan Turner (Phi) 33,605
10. Mario Chalmers (Mia) 32,996
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 607,407
2. Dwight Howard (Hou) 295,120
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 292,925
4. Kevin Love (Min) 275,506
5. Tim Duncan (SA) 217,271
6. Anthony Davis (NO) 149,579
7. Pau Gasol (LAL) 133,199
8. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 132,818
9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 109,745
10. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 89,093
11. Chandler Parsons (Hou) 77,179
12. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 60,923
13. David Lee (GS) 60,015
14. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 55,023
15. Omer Asik (Hou) 53,827
1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 501,215
2. Chris Paul (LAC) 393,313
3. Stephen Curry (GS) 327,449
4. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 240,404
5. James Harden (Hou) 198,667
6. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 149,065
7. Tony Parker (SA) 112,423
8. Ricky Rubio (Min) 63,096
9. Steve Nash (LAL) 60,782
10. Damian Lillard (Por) 55,847