The second round of All-Star ballot returns have been announced, and things seem to be holding steady in terms of the Western Conference.
LeBron James once again led the Western Conference frontcourt (and all players) with Nikola Jokic remaining in second place. Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have held their positions of third and fifth respectively, with Anthony Davis remaining between them at fourth.
Leonard doubled his vote count in a week, coming in at just under 2.5 million votes. Davis is just over 100,000 votes behind him—about the same margin as last week. This difference, along with the 25% player vote and the 25% media vote, will determine the final frontcourt spot in the West. Davis and Leonard are both worthy candidates, but it will be interesting to see if the Lakers’ superior level of popularity ultimately puts Davis over the top as a Los Angeles basketball icon.
George just cracked 1 million votes this week, holding a 150,000 vote lead over the sixth-place Zion Williamson. It is unlikely that George cracks the starting lineup, even if the players and media are kind to him. A week ago, he would’ve been essentially guaranteed to be voted in by the coaches as a reserve. However, if George ends up missing an extended amount of time due to the bone edema in his foot that currently has him sidelined, coaches might be forced to give the spot to another player (though the Western Conference frontcourt isn’t particularly deep this season).
In the past week, the league has confirmed that an actual All-Star game will in fact be played in Atlanta, and Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that the dunk contest may be incorporated into the event during halftime of the game.
Many players, including LeBron James, have voiced their dismay with the financially-motivated decision to host an exhibition game during a pandemic. Leonard said as much himself.
It seems that the league will continue with its plan despite the players’ frustration. The starters will be announced on TNT on Feb. 18.