Bucks' Antetokounmpo leads All-Star balloting

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Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ball over Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans on December 13, 2017 (AFP Photo/Chris Graythen)
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New York (AFP) - The Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leading vote-getter in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star voting released on Thursday.

Greece's Antetokounmpo, who earned his first All-Star nod last season, received 863,416 votes to edge the Cleveland Cavaliers' four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James (856,080) by 7,336 votes for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and overall after the first 12 days of fan voting.

Antetokounmpo, 23, has enjoyed a stellar start to the 2017-18 campaign. He is the league's second in scoring, averaging 29.1 points per game, and ranks in the top 20 in blocks, steals and rebounds.

Four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics leads among East guards with 802,834 votes -- putting him third overall in the voting.

In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant leads with 767,402 votes and teammate Stephen Curry is next with 735,115 -- putting them fourth and fifth overall.

The 67th NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, February 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Under a new All-Star Game format that replaces the traditional matchup between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, the team rosters will be chosen by two captains from the pool of starters and reserves.

The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference, but they can choose their players without respect to conference affiliation.

The All-Star Game starters will be revealed on January 18.

For the second consecutive year, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the starters.

Fan balloting accounts for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each.