NBA All-Star Game starters: Kobe, Curry and LeBron headline teams
The 2016 NBA All-Star Game, set for Toronto on Feb. 14, will double as a showcase game in Kobe Bryant’s ongoing farewell tour.
The Lakers guard, who announced his plans to retire after the 2015–16 season, will make his 18th All-Star Game appearance after pulling down a league-leading 1.89 million votes in the fan voting process. Bryant, who was listed as a forward on this year's ballot for the first time, will be joined by Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard in the West’s frontcourt. Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook fill out the West's backcourt. With 1.6 million votes, Curry finished second overall in the fan voting.
LeBron James will make his 12th All-Star Game appearance, leading all vote-getters in the East with just over a million votes. The Cavaliers forward will be joined by Pacers forward Paul George and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony in the East’s frontcourt. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Heat guard Dwyane Wade will make up the East’s backcourt.
The rest of the All-Star Game rosters will be determined by a vote of the coaches in each conference. This year’s All-Star Game will be the first to be held outside the United States.
Below, find a look at the full voting results.
Here are three quick takeaways from the results:
1. Really Close Calls
All things considered, the fans did a fairly good job voting in the league’s most deserving players. More interesting than who got voted in, however, was who almost got voted in. In the East, Anthony barely edged out Bulls center Pau Gasol by 360 votes for the final frontcourt slot, a margin of victory that represents just 0.06% of his total tally. If this were politics, there would surely be a recount.
Things were even weirder in the West. Leonard managed to slide into the conference’s final frontcourt slot, holding off stiff challenges from Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (by 14,227 votes) and Warriors forward Draymond Green (55,723). What is Pachulia, who is averaging a respectable 10.5 points and 10.8 rebounds, doing in this conversation? Despite never pulling down big votes before, the 6'11" big man received a strong push from his home country of Georgia this year. His presence alongside the likes of Bryant, Curry, James and Durant in the All-Star Game starting lineups would have been one of the strangest moments in the history of the game.
The final close call came in the East, where Lowry surpassed Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving by 65,790 votes after trailing in last week’s third round of balloting. The fans got this one correct: Irving has been out for much of the season due to injury, and Lowry was the most deserving nominee in the category.
Three of SI.com’s All-Star Game starter selections did not make the actual starting lineups: Green, Bulls guard Jimmy Butler and Hawks forward Paul Millsap. All three should be no-brainer selections by the coaches as reserves in their respective categories.
While Green (700,000-plus votes) and Butler (500,000-plus votes) polled well, Millsap has a strong claim as the most underrated player in the NBA. Despite ranking in the top 10 league-wide in Player Efficiency Rating and 12th in Real Plus Minus, Atlanta’s versatile forward drew just 41,654 votes, which placed him 10th among East frontcourt candidates and dead last among the top 50 candidates whose results were released publicly. That’s criminal.
3. Curry has turned the tide vs. James
Although Bryant’s vote total is truly eye-popping, Curry’s popularity is just as newsworthy. In fact, after just barely edging out James as the NBA’s top vote-getter last year, the reigning MVP drew a whopping 515,119 votes more than James. For comparison’s sake, only 20 players received more votes than Curry’s margin over James. Here’s a chart that shows Curry’s surging popularity, relative to James’s, over the last four All-Star Games.
1 LeBron James (Cle) 1,089,206
2 Paul George (Ind) 711,595
3 Carmelo Anthony (NY) 567,348
4 Pau Gasol (Chi) 566,988
5 Andre Drummond (Det) 515,296
6 Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 473,579
7 Chris Bosh (Mia) 351,420
8 Kevin Love (Cle) 332,685
9 Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 301,362
10 Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 84,617
11 Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 73,079
12 Joakim Noah (Chi) 48,509
13 DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 46,044
14 Marcin Gortat (Was) 43,496
15 Paul Millsap (Atl) 41,654
1 Dwyane Wade (Mia) 941,466
2 Kyle Lowry (Tor) 646,441
3 Kyrie Irving (Cle) 580,651
4 Jimmy Butler (Chi) 564,637
5 DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 444,868
6 John Wall (Was) 368,686
7 Derrick Rose (Chi) 302,389
8 Jeremy Lin (Cha) 195,920
9 Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 153,642
10 Reggie Jackson (Det) 76,688
1 Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,891,614
2 Kevin Durant (OKC) 980,787
3 Kawhi Leonard (SA) 782,339
4 Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 768,112
5 Draymond Green (GS) 726,616
6 Blake Griffin (LAC) 651,860
7 Enes Kanter (OKC) 534,499
8 Tim Duncan (SA) 431,087
9 Anthony Davis (NO) 400,688
10 DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 364,270
11 DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 269,427
12 LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 268,003
13 Dwight Howard (Hou) 219,761
14 Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 173,317
15 Harrison Barnes (GS) 155,289
1 Stephen Curry (GS) 1,604,325
2 Russell Westbrook (OKC) 772,009
3 Chris Paul (LAC) 624,334
4 Klay Thompson (GS) 555,513
5 James Harden (Hou) 430,777
6 Manu Ginobili (SA) 226,289
7 Rajon Rondo (Sac) 200,518
8 Tony Parker (SA) 195,472
9 Andre Iguodala (GS) 181,142
10 Damian Lillard (Por) 158,360