Written By Gilbert McGregor
On Thursday, Jan. 20, the NBA released the third fan vote returns for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
In last week's fan returns, Lakers superstar LeBron James was second overall, but he is now the leading vote-getter, surpassing Warriors' superstar Stephen Curry. Nets' forward Kevin Durant, who is out indefinitely with a sprained MCL, remains first in the East but leads Bucks' superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo by under 400,000 votes.
As in years past, fans will account for 50 percent of the final vote for this year's All-Star Game. The other 50 percent is made up of current players and a media panel, with each side accounting for 25 percent of the vote.
Voting began on Dec. 25 and concludes at 11:59 p.m. ET on Jan. 22. All-Star starters will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 27.
The 71st NBA All-Star Game takes place on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Onto the results…
LeBron James now leads the NBA in the latest fan returns for NBA All-Star Voting presented by Tissot, which concludes this Saturday, Jan. 22.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan and James continue to be the top vote-getters at their respective position groups. pic.twitter.com/LBIU5BamC6
Top 10 vote-getters
- LeBron James — 6,287,449
- Stephen Curry — 6,019,418
- Kevin Durant — 5,496,513
- Giannis Antetokounmpo — 5,124,925
- Nikola Jokic — 4,132,522
- DeMar DeRozan — 4,121,034
- Joel Embiid — 3,305,229
- Andrew Wiggins — 2,644,571
- Ja Morant — 2,623,359
- Paul George — 2,312,248
If voting ended today, fan-voted starters would be…
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|DeMar DeRozan||Guard||Stephen Curry|
|Trae Young||Guard||Ja Morant|
|Kevin Durant*||Frontcourt||LeBron James|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Frontcourt||Nikola Jokic|
|Joel Embiid||Frontcourt||Andrew Wiggins|
As mentioned above, Durant is out indefinitely with a knee injury, making him unlikely to suit up for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
If fan voting ended today, Durant would be a starter and a captain for this year's game. Last season, Durant missed the All-Star Game with a hamstring injury but was the leading vote-getter. While he did not attend the game due to COVID-19 protocols, Durant did serve as a captain during the NBA All-Star Draft.
Commissioner Adam Silver selected Celtics forward Jayson Tatum to start in place of Durant and selected Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis to serve as an injury replacement for Durant. If Durant is unable to play, players such as Sabonis, Jarrett Allen or Miles Bridges could be appointed to step up in the East's frontcourt.
While each of the top three vote-getters in the West frontcourt is healthy, George, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green aren't far behind. Based on the ways in which voting is weighted, each of the aforementioned three could still earn a start, despite being unable to participate.
Commissioner Silver would again be tasked with appointing injury replacements.
LeBron James on the cusp of history
In his 19th season, LeBron is well on his way to an 18th All-Star selection, record-tying 18th All-Star appearance and 18th All-Star start.
In addition to the above records, James passing Curry places him in a position to be the leading vote-getter again. If James ends up leading all players in votes, it will be the ninth time in his career, which would him with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan for most years as the All-Star Game's leading vote-getter.
Keep an eye on James' pursuit of more history.
The tightest races for starting spots
While Wiggins has created some more separation from George in the Western Conference frontcourt, the race for the second guard spot in the Eastern Conference has gotten even tighter.
DeRozan looks poised to earn the fifth All-Star selection of his career, but the race between Young, Zach LaVine and James Harden is getting too close to call. Fewer than 200,000 votes separate Young, LaVine and Harden, each of whom is more than worthy of earning a start in this year's All-Star Game.
With the media and current players set to submit their votes soon, we could realistically see either of the above three represent the East as a starter.
What has — and hasn't — changed
Since the second fan returns were released on Thursday, Jan. 13, no new names have entered the top 10 of any position group in either conference.
While no one has entered or fallen out of the top 10, there has been some shuffling in the Eastern Conference. Among frontcourt players, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has overtaken Heat center Bam Adebayo as the seventh leading vote-getter.
Another Raptor, Fred VanVleet, moved to seventh among guards, overtaking the Knicks' Derrick Rose.
Also of note
Fan favourites continue to receive love.
Carmelo Anthony has surpassed 1 million votes, holding his spot at seventh in the Western Conference frontcourt. Among guards, Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson has also surpassed the 1 million mark. The Warriors (Curry, Wiggins, Thompson and Draymond Green) are the only team with four players receiving at least 1 million votes.
In the East, LaMarcus Aldridge has remained in the top 10, with his tally increasing by over 100,000 votes since the last announcement. While he was overtaken by VanVleet, Rose has tallied more votes than Darius Garland and Jaylen Brown.