LeBron, Steph overtake Giannis, Durant in new round of 2018 NBA All-Star voting

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3704/" data-ylk="slk:LeBron James">LeBron James</a> and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4612/" data-ylk="slk:Stephen Curry">Stephen Curry</a> are now in line to be the two captains for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. (AP)
LeBron James and Stephen Curry are now in line to be the two captains for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. (AP)

After opening the voting process for next month’s 2018 NBA All-Star Game in second place in their respective conferences, superstars LeBron James and Stephen Curry have ascended to the top of the Eastern and Western Conference charts in the second round of balloting — exactly as they did this time last year.

Here’s a look at the top 10 vote-getters among guards and frontcourt players in the East, according to results released Thursday:

And in the West:

James, averaging 27.2 points, a career-high nine assists and 8.2 rebounds per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, overtook Milwaukee Bucks Greek army knife Giannis Antetokounmpo for the top spot in the East. After trailing by more than 7,300 votes in the first round of fan balloting, LeBron now boasts a lead of nearly 142,000 votes. Given his track record, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player was able to chase down a quarry in such impressive fashion.

Curry authored a similar displacement, going from 32,000-plus votes behind Kevin Durant at the first checkpoint to nearly 44,000 votes ahead of his Golden State Warriors teammate in the new results. The two-time MVP elevated thanks in part to a stellar run of form in his return from a nasty ankle sprain that kept him on the shelf for nearly four weeks and 11 games.

After re-entering the lineup on Dec. 30, 2017, Curry promptly became engulfed in flames, averaging 35.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 32.3 minutes per game, shooting 57.4 percent from the floor, a scorching 53.2 percent from 3-point land (on 12.4 attempts a night and 89.7 percent from the foul line over the next five games — a period that coincided with Durant being sidelined for three games by a strained right calf. But now that Curry’s back in street clothes with another ankle tweak, and KD’s back in the lineup and dropping 40 (albeit in a losing effort), we’ll have to see whether a return to Peak KD form sans Steph will push Durant back to the front of voters’ minds among Western options.

James, Antetokounmpo, Curry and Durant are four of the five players to have topped the 1 million vote mark. The fifth: Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, whose 1,370,643 votes trails only old buddy LeBron and Giannis among all players.

In the East, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (784,287 votes) rounds out the top three fan selections in the frontcourt. Among guards, Irving has more than doubled up second-place DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors (537,168 votes), while Sixers rookie Ben Simmons (397,942) holds third place with Indiana Pacers revelation Victor Oladipo (385,448) and Cleveland vet Dwyane Wade (353,273) in hot pursuit.

Out West, Durant’s trailed by 2017 All-Star MVP Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (664,687 votes) and Bay Area buddy Draymond Green (616,730) in frontcourt voting. Curry’s joined by last year’s regular-season MVP runner-up, James Harden of the Houston Rockets (978,540), and last year’s MVP winner, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (791,332) in the top three among Western guards.

The full top 15 among all vote-getters, regardless of position or conference:

1. LeBron James, Cavaliers: 1,622,838
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: 1,480,954
3. Kyrie Irving, Celtics: 1,370,643
4. Stephen Curry, Warriors: 1,369,658
5. Kevin Durant, Warriors: 1,326,059
6. James Harden, Rockets: 978,540
7. Russell Westbrook, Thunder: 791,332
8. Joel Embiid, 76ers: 784,287
9. Klay Thompson, Warriors: 686,825
10. Anthony Davis, Pelicans: 664,687
11. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: 657,827
12. Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks: 640,928
13. Draymond Green, Warriors: 616,730
14. DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans: 587,835
15. Paul George, Thunder: 547,582

If these results hold, James and Curry will be the two captains who, under the new format the NBA is testing out this year, will draft rosters from a pool of the rest of the All-Star selections, rather than just going with the traditional East vs. West approach. Fan voting will account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10-starter pool from which the captains can draft, while NBA players and a panel of media members will account for 25 percent each. Voting for fans (via the NBA website, the NBA app, Twitter, Facebook, Google search, by using Amazon’s Alexa assistant, and on Sina Weibo and Tencent), and for players and media will wrap up on Monday, Jan. 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

After those votes are tallied and weighted, the starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 18 during that evening’s pre-game show, beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The coach-selected All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during that evening’s pre-game show, starting at 7 p.m. ET. The full captain-selected rosters will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 in a broadcast that starts at 7 p.m. ET … unless NBA Commissioner Adam Silver comes to his senses and allows us to watch the captains drafting their teams (which would be very fun and potentially spicy and basically the whole point of changing the format but nevertheless)!

This year’s All-Star Game will be played at Staples Center in L.A. on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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