By Ben Golliver
Four players have now garnered more than 1 million votes apiece but there were otherwise no meaningful changes in the third round of 2013 NBA All-Star balloting, released by the NBA on Thursday.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant remains the overall leading vote-getter, narrowly topping Heat forward LeBron James. Bryant topped James as the leading vote-getter in the second round of ballots released Dec. 27 after James topped Bryant in the first round released Dec. 13.
Bryant tallied 1,177,456 votes to James’ 1,151,304. Thunder forward Kevin Durant (1,088,797) and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (1,054,099) each topped the one million mark and continue to be the third- and fourth-leading vote-getters, respectively. Heat guard Dwyane Wade remains in fifth, edging out Lakers center Dwight Howard.
The starting lineups for each conference based on the third round of returns did not change from either of the first two rounds of returns.
Like last week, the only two players projected to be starters who face a real chance of being unseated are Garnett and Paul. Garnett leads Heat forward Chris Bosh by fewer than 28,000 votes (390,751 to 362,973). However, Garnett has actually further solidified his position by extending that lead in both the second and third rounds of voting. Paul leads Rockets guard Jeremy Lin by fewer than 47,000 votes (651,893 to 605,624) in the third round. While Paul’s lead after the first ballot was more than 55,000, his lead now is virtually identical to his lead after the second round of balloting. With the Jan. 14 voting deadline approaching, his margin appears fairly safe.
Eight of the projected starters based on these voting results were also starters in 2012. The only changes: Rondo, who would plug in for injured Bulls guard Derrick Rose, and Garnett, who would step in for injured Sixers center Andrew Bynum. Bynum started for the Western Conference last year as a member of the Lakers but was traded to the Sixers in a deal that sent Howard to the Lakers.
This year’s fan vote selects the starters for the midseason showcase in Houston on Feb. 17. There is a twist: Fans now select two “backcourt” players and three “frontcourt” players rather than two “guards,” two “forwards” and one “center” as they had in previous years. This year’s voting process has also extended onto social networking sites. For a breakdown of the winners and losers of the new format based on the early voting results, click here.
The full third-round returns are below.