Wednesday, January 19, 2022

2022 NBA All-Star Game voting: Stephen Curry leads LeBron James; Trae Young, Ja Morant leap into starter tier

2022 NBA All-Star Game voting: Stephen Curry leads LeBron James; Trae Young, Ja Morant leap into starter tier

The second returns are in, and the backcourts look different

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USATSI

The second round of NBA All-Star voting returns are in, and the backcourts are different. Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks are on track to start, which was not the case a week agoStephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors leads all vote-getters again, but LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is in striking distance. If this holds, it will be the first time that there has not been a Team LeBron since the NBA instituted the All-Star draft in 2018. James has been the NBA’s leading vote-getter for the last five seasons, and Curry last held that honor in 2015.

Also notable: Curry’s teammate Andrew Wiggins has moved into the starter tier, and Curry’s former teammate Kevin Durant still leads all Eastern Conference players.  

Fan voting will continue until Jan. 22 at midnight ET. The next round of returns will be released on Jan. 20. 

Here’s the breakdown in the West:

1. LeBron James, Lakers (4,386,392)

1. Stephen Curry, Warriors (4,463,426)

2. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets (3,016,380)

2. Ja Morant, Grizzlies (1,633,313)

3. Andrew Wiggins, Warriors (1,829,733)

3. Luka Doncic, Mavericks (1,410,605)

4. Paul George, Clippers (1,773,447)

4. Klay Thompson, Warriors (749,038)

5. Anthony Davis, Lakers (1,342,294)

5. Devin Booker, Suns (648,317)

6. Draymond Green, Warriors (1,295,848)

6. Russell Westbrook, Lakers (576,512)

7. Carmelo Anthony, Lakers (886,014)

7. Chris Paul, Suns, (561,896)

8. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves (851,033)

8. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (441,247)

9. Rudy Gobert, Jazz (419,853)

9. Damian Lillard, Blazers (364,217)

10. Deandre Ayton, Suns (344,688)

10. Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves (224,293)

And in the East:

1. Kevin Durant, Nets (4,088,334)

1. DeMar DeRozan, Bulls (2,973,854)

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (3,808,458)

2. Trae Young, Hawks (1,596,301)

3. Joel Embiid, Sixers (2,357,404)

3. Zach LaVine, Bulls (1,442,571)

4. Jayson Tatum, Celtics (1,155,591)

4. James Harden, Nets (1,433,217)

5. Jimmy Butler, Heat (978,889)

5. LaMelo Ball, Hornets (694,446)

6. Jarrett Allen, Cavaliers (341,885)

6. Kyrie Irving, Nets (561,103)

7. Bam Adebayo, Heat (282,512)

7. Derrick Rose, Knicks (373,039)

8. Pascal Siakam, Raptors (244,042)

8. Fred VanVleet, Raptors (350,806)

9. Miles Bridges, Hornets (230,586)

9. Darius Garland, Cavaliers (227,813)

10. LaMarcus Aldridge, Nets (216,216)

10. Jaylen Brown, Celtics (217,463)

Before you get too upset about any of this: Fan voting alone does not determine the starters. Fans will account for half the vote, while players and a panel of media members will account for 25 percent each.  

That said, a few notes:

Well hello there, Ja and Trae 

The East backcourt race remains the most interesting part of the ballot. DeMar DeRozan still has a comfortable lead, but now it’s Young in second place, DeRozan’s teammate Zach LaVine in third and James Harden in fourth. (After first returns, it went DeRozan-Harden-Young-LaVine.) Young started in the 2020 All-Star Game, but wasn’t selected as either a starter or a reserve last year. 

Morant has a chance to start in his first All-Star Game, just like Young did, and this is surely thanks to the absolutely bonkers tear that he and his team are on. Morant has been named the Western Conference player of the week for the last two weeks, and his Grizzlies have won 10 straight games. Apologies to Luka Doncic, who is a worthy All-Star but has been knocked out of the top two (and, let’s be honest, has not been as exciting as Morant this season).  

Is it the year of Wiggins?

Not only did Andrew Wiggins again come out ahead of Draymond Green, he increased his lead and zoomed right past the injured Paul George and into the starting lineup. Wiggins is having the most efficient season of his career and playing an important role for an elite team, but, if he remains in this spot, he might be at risk of falling out of it once the votes come in from the players and the media panel. 

Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns aren’t anywhere near Wiggins in the fan voting, but they have strong cases.  

Lakers fans showed up

James has almost closed the gap on Curry, but that’s not all: Anthony Davis managed to leapfrog Green and get closer to George despite playing no basketball since the first returns, and Russell Westbrook went from ninth to sixth in the West backcourt, jumping Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Chris Paul. Since the first returns, Westbrook has played three games and scored a total of 23 points on 8-for-40 shooting. 

Lakers reserve Carmelo Anthony overtook Towns for seventh place among West frontcourt players, too. Sure!

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