The fans want the biggest names — and established stars — on the All-Star stage in Salt Lake City in February, and it’s hard to argue with them.
Kevin Durant and LeBron James lead the fan voting and would be the captains picking their teams this year, based on the first round of fan voting for the 2023 All-Star Game, which was released today. Fans are leaning into high-profile established stars having good seasons — some of them have missed time due to injuries, but that has not bothered voters.
Here is the list after the first round of fan voting, with their vote totals:
1. LeBron James (Lakers) 3,168,694
2. Nikola Jokic (Nuggets) 2,237,768
3. Anthony Davis (Lakers) 2,063,325
4. Zion Williamson (Pelicans) 1,924,222
5. Andrew Wiggins (Warriors) 1,123,898
6. Paul George (Clippers) 955,896
7. Lauri Markkanen (Jazz) 466,988
8. Draymond Green (Warriors) 405,245
9. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers) 303,477
10. Kevon Looney (Warriors) 245,985
1. Stephen Curry (Warriors) 2,715,520
2. Luka Doncic (Mavericks) 2,388,502
3. Ja Morant (Grizzlies) 915,507
4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder) 911,774
5. Klay Thompson (Warriors) 514,104
6. Russell Westbrook (Lakers) 448,224
7. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers) 314,158
8. Devin Booker (Suns) 224,961
9. Austin Reaves (Lakers) 144,520
10. Jordan Poole (Warriors) 138,392
1. Kevin Durant (Nets) 3,118,545
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) 2,998,327
3. Joel Embiid (76ers) 2,226,712
4. Jayson Tatum (Celtics) 2,178,330
5. Jimmy Butler (Heat) 477,008
6. Pascal Siakam (Rapotors 324,632
7. Kyle Kuzma (Wizards) 234,035
8. Paolo Banchero (Magic) 212,417
9. Nic Claxton (Nets) 160,407
10. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers) 121,561
1. Kyrie Irving (Nets) 2,071,715
2. Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers) 1,637,374
3. James Harden (76ers) 1,161,593
4. Jaylen Brown (Celtics) 1,032,522
5. Trae Young (Hawks) 791,354
6. DeMar DeRozan (Bulls) 544,629
7. LaMelo Ball (Hornets) 299,113
8. Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers) 281,691
9. Derrick Rose (Bulls) 220,229
10. Darius Garland (Cavaliers) 143,826
Here are a few thoughts on this:
• Eastern Conference frontcourt remains the toughest decision: Durant, Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Tatum all deserve to start. One of them has to come off the bench. There is no right or wrong answer here, and it’s likely it will be as close among the player and media votes for those spots as it is with the fans (remember, it’s fans 50%, players 25%, media 25%). This is to say, the fan vote may hold sway.
• How much does games missed matter in picking All-Stars? Should it matter? Both the Warriors’ Curry and the Lakers’ Davis played well enough to be All-Star starters, but both have also missed considerable time the past month due to injuries. While that might impact them in things like the MVP or All-NBA votes at the end of the season, should it for an exhibition game for the fans? With their votes, those fans have clearly said it does not matter.
• It will be interesting to see where the player and media votes fall on Kyrie Irving. Could they bump him out as a starter in favor of Harden or someone else?
• Also, nobody in the top 10 from that expensive Minnesota Timberwolves frontcourt.
• There is a massive gap in the fan voting for West guards between the top two — Curry and Doncic — and third-place Ja Morant. Likely too much for him to make up.
• Tyrese Haliburton is too low, he is having a fantastic season. He should be in consideration for a starting spot.
• Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves being in the top 10 for West guards shows the power of the Lakers voting block.
• Some other potential first-time All-Stars got in the fan top 10s: Lauri Markkanen, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Kyle Kuzma lead that list. Rookie Paolo Banchero also made the top 10 frontcourt vote getters in the East.
• Fans vote for the starters — two guards, three frontcourt players in each conference — but the reserves for each team are chosen by a vote of the NBA coaches.
• Fan All-Star voting continues at the NBA app and NBA.com through Jan. 21 (there is no voting via social media this year). On Jan. 6, Jan. 13, Jan. 16 and Jan. 20 all fan votes will count triple.
• As in recent years, the fan vote will count for 50% of the total for each player, with votes from NBA players counting for 25%, and votes from a panel of NBA media making up the other 25%.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant lead first round of fan NBA All-Star voting originally appeared on NBCSports.com