Now in his 20th year in the NBA, LeBron James continues to wage war with Father Time and the league’s fans have acknowledged his efforts through the NBA All-Star Game fan voting.
The 38-year-old James currently leads all vote-getters with 4,825,229 votes as of the second fan returns released last January 13. If James does make it to the All-Star team, it will be his 19th selection which will tie the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in league history.
The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic and James’ Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis are currently second and third behind James in the Western Conference frontcourt tally. However, Zion Williamson poses a threat to Davis’ spot as he trails the Laker forward by less than one hundred votes.
In the West backcourt, the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks are running away from the rest of the pack with over 3.5 million votes each. The closest player to these two superstars is Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies who faces what seems to be an insurmountable deficit as he has only 1,397,102 votes.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets leads all Eastern Conference players and is second in the overall tally only to James. Durant has amassed 4,509,239 votes and leads the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is right behind Durant with 4,467,306 votes, in the East frontcourt.
The Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid are in a tight race as well for the third East frontcourt spot as both players have more than 3.2 million votes and are separated by less than 50,000. Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat is in fifth place behind these two budding superstars, but is virtually out of reach as he has only 688,993 votes to his name.
The East’s backcourt, on the other hand, seems quite set. The Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers lead the trio of Brooklyn’s James Harden, Jaylen Brown of the Celtics, and the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young by over one million votes.
For the remaining seven spots on each of the All-Star rosters and assuming that each of the current leaders makes it to the team, it will be a tight race once again to gain recognition–especially in the Eastern Conference.
Embiid is practically guaranteed a spot on the roster if he does not make it to the starting line-up and Brown is a shoo-in as well given his significant contributions to the East-leading campaign of Boston so far this season.
That leaves only five remaining spots in the East side for the 10 All-Star Game veterans who have made notable cases for themselves this year. Young, Butler, Harden, Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo, Dejounte Murray, Darius Garland, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, and Julius Randle have all done enough to at least merit consideration for the East team.
There are three aspiring first timers in the East who deserve a spot in the discussion too. Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers has jumpstarted what was thought to be a tanking team while the New York Knicks’ offseason acquisition Jalen Brunson has reinvigorated one of the league’s most beloved teams.
Furthermore, Tyler Herro has made a significant jump in production in his first year as a full-time starter for the Heat and he has helped keep them afloat in the standings despite a myriad of injuries.
Over in the Western Conference, the race for the last seven reserve spots is not as tight as the one in the East due to injuries. Zion Williamson, Devin Booker, and Paul George all would have been locks to make the team, though their current injuries may hamper their All-Star case.
Damian Lillard and Ja Morant may be the only true locks for reserve spots in the West. Domantas Sabonis, who made two All-Star appearances in the East while he was still with Indiana, could conceivably make the team given the surprising season that the Sacramento Kings are having.
Sabonis’ Kings teammate De’Aaron Fox leads the group of potential first-timers in the Eastern Conference along with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz, and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards.
This year’s All-Star game is slated for February 19, 2023 and it will be interesting to see which first-timers get the nod. It will be a historic weekend for sure, with James set to tie Abdul-Jabbar amidst his quest to overtake the Hall of Famer as the league’s all-time leading regular season scorer.