NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Five-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James leaped over Slovenian guard Luka Doncic and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to lead early fan voting totals for the NBA All-Star Game released Thursday.
Los Angeles Lakers star James was more than 53,000 votes behind Dallas star Doncic for the top spot in last week’s first early voting results announcement by the league.
But new totals show James with 3,359,871 votes to stand 82,001 ahead of Doncic with Greek star Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks third overall and atop the Eastern Conference with 3,259,383 votes.
Leaders from the Eastern and Western conferences will be the team captains for the 69th NBA All-Star Game, to be played February 16 at Chicago. Each captain will select from the elected pool of starters to determine an opening lineup then choose from available reserves, all regardless of conference.
Fans votes account for 50 percent of the vote to decide starters. Active NBA players and a media panel each have a 25 percent say in the matter, with voting concluding on January 20 and starters revealed three days later.
James, the NBA assists leader with 10.8 a game, sets the pace in the Western Conference frontcourt with Lakers teammate Anthony Davis second on 3,124,446 and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers third on 2,210,539. The Clippers’ Paul George is a distant fourth on 845,719.
Doncic paces the West guards on 3,277,870 with NBA scoring leader James Harden of Houston next on 2,167,269 votes for the last backcourt spot and Portland’s Damian Lillard a distant third on 687,855.
Antetokounmpo leads the East frontcourt on 3,259,383 with Cameroon stars Joel Embiid of Philadelphia (1,784,211) and Pascal Siakam of defending NBA champion Toronto (1,730,763) in the other starting spots for now.
Miami’s Jimmy Butler ranks fourth in the East fan frontcourt balloting at 1,400,293.
There’s a three-way battle for two starting spots in the East backcourt with Atlanta’s Trae Young atop the pack on 1,389,628 and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving second on 1,351,997.
Boston’s Kemba Walker is hot on their heels on 1,331,577.
© Agence France-Presse