Fans account for only 50 percent of the voting for the NBA All-Star Game but, on Thursday afternoon, the first returns officially arrived. It is important to note that fan voting is available through Jan. 21 but, in the grand scheme, a lot of the damage has already been done and there are a few surprises along the way.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the leading vote-getters in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively — which would make them the captains in the new format. Neither comes as a surprise in the top spot but, after that, things get a bit weirder. Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic currently lands as the No. 2 vote-getter among Western Conference forwards, placing ahead of Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Paul George in the pecking order. Elsewhere in the West, Stephen Curry is the leader among guards but, in the No. 2 slot, Derrick Rose arrives in the midst of an improved season for the former MVP.
Rose and Doncic slotting ahead of legitimate superstars like Durant, Davis and James Harden seems jarring in some ways but, of course, it is important to remember that bizarre fan voting is nothing new to the NBA All-Star Game. In fact, Dwyane Wade is currently the No. 2 player among Eastern Conference guards and the Atlanta Hawks boast a pair of top-10 players at their positions in Jeremy Lin (8th among guards and Vince Carter (7th among forwards).
There is a long way to go in terms of the voting journey but, Luka Doncic mania appears to be fully arriving and he’s on pace to do something the sport hasn’t seen in more than a decade.