It was a bit of a surprise when the first round of fan voting revealed on Thursday that Milwaukee Bucks big Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leading All-Star vote-getter in the Eastern Conference.
Antetokounmpo is having a spectacular year, but fan voting is largely a popularity contest. Seeing someone like Antetokounmpo pull in more votes than the likes of LeBron James is pretty remarkable. The gap between Antetokounmpo and James is roughly 7,000 votes, though, so the tides could change in an instant, but these results were certainly unexpected.
Of course, the NBA changed their All-Star format this season, so leading a conference in votes like Antetokounmpo does in the East has its privileges. Under the NBA’s new All-Star Game format, each conference’s leading vote-getter will captain and draft their own All-Star squad using the entire pool of All-Star players. This means Eastern Conference players can play for the Western Conference, and vice versa.