NEW YORK (AFP) – Dallas’ Slovenian guard Luka Doncic edged reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee for the overall lead in early NBA All-Star Game voting results released on Thursday.
Doncic, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, topped all players with 1,073,957 fan votes with “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo trailing by only 599 votes and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James third on 1,020,851.
Fans have 50 per cent of the voting power to decide the 10 starters in this year’s All-Star Game at Chicago on February 16 while current NBA players voting counts 25 per cent and a media panel counts for the final 25 per cent to determine two guards and three frontcourt starters for the Eastern and Western conferences.
Voting will conclude on January 20 with starters and captains to be revealed on January 23. Each captain will select starting and reserve lineups from the available players regardless of conference. All-Star reserves will be revealed January 30.
Doncic topped the Western Conference guards with NBA scoring leader James Harden of the Houston Rockets well back in second on 749,080 and Portland’s Damian Lillard a distant third on 202,498.
James, a five-time NBA MVP, paced the West frontcourt with teammate Anthony Davis next on 955,246 and 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers third in 740,657. A distant fourth was Clipper star Paul George on 280,894.
Antetokounmpo led East frontcourt balloting with Came-roonian big man Joel Embiid of Philadelphia second on 606,534 and his compatriot Pascal Siakam of reigning champion Toronto, last season’s NBA Most Improved
Player, third on 544,302. Miami’s Jimmy Butler was fourth on 431,483.
In the East backcourt, which features the tightest voting race for a starting berth, Atlanta’s Trae Young was the leader on 443,412 with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving second on 432,481 and Boston’s Kemba Walker in third, only 450 votes behind Irving.
Australian Ben Simmons of Philadelphia ranked sixth among East guards in fan votes with 159,065.