Voting for the NBA All-Star starters has changed for 2017, the fan vote only counts for 50 percent with the players and a media panel accounting for the other half. However, that’s still a huge fan impact that a player who can’t attract fan support isn’t likely to overcome, so the following is a guide to what happened in 2016 and who is deserving this year.
Complaints about who gets the nod as an All-Star starter aren’t likely to diminish under the new system this year either. As usual, there are more than five players in a conference worthy of starting.
Here are the top fan vote-getters from a year ago (via Basketball-Reference.com).
In 2016, Dwyane Wade was second in scoring among the East’s shooting guards at 19 points per game, trailing DeMar DeRozan (23.5). Kyle Lowry was second in scoring among point guards at 21.2 points per game trailing Isaiah Thomas (22.2), so the fans didn’t do a bad job here.
Lebron James led the East in scoring (25.3), Paul George was second among the forwards (23.1), and Carmelo Anthony was third among forwards (21.8). In fact, the fans voted in four of the Eastern Conference’s top six scorers in 2016, so there shouldn’t have been that much of a push to change the system for selecting All-Star starters based on last year’s results in the East. Besides, it’s on the coaches to pick up the obvious snubs when selecting the All-Star reserves (Isaiah Thomas, DeMar DeRozan).
This year scoring is up and scoring will remain a strong indicator of who gets voted/selected/picked to be an NBA All-Star and the names doing well in the East may seem rather familiar. (Stats as of December 26th, 2016 from ESPN.com)
Note that rebounding is given greater prominence with the centers and Boston’s Al Horford with 15.7 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.1 blocks doesn’t fit in easily with the power forwards or the centers (right where he’s been his whole career.)
The voting is for two guards and three forwards/centers.
It’s completely possible fans continue for vote for the memories of Wade (2016 East’s leading guard vote-getter) even though there should be half-a-dozen players ahead of him this year. It shouldn’t even come as a shock if Wade still gets the respect of the players and media based on his career despite playing on what’s currently a sub-.500 team.
DeRozan leads the East in scoring on the second place team in the conference, so he should get voted in. However, in Toronto the consensus remains that Lowry is the team’s best player and he’ll likely lead the pair in fan votes.
If winning is taken into account, there is a widening gap between Cleveland, Toronto and the rest of the East. A three-way battle between DeRozan, Lowry and Kyrie Irving to start at guard should be in the cards, the on-going strong name-recognition of Wade notwithstanding.
Look for Isaiah Thomas to garner more fan votes than last year and it’s about time Kemba Walker got a little more recognition. Jimmy Butler, fourth in fan voting as a guard in 2016, plays for those same sub.-500 Bulls as Wade and that isn’t going to help his stock improve from last year (at guard or forward).
Last year only LeBron James of the first place Cavaliers earned the support of the fans, but it would be a surprise if Kevin Love doesn’t see a significant surge in fan support this time around and get voted in as well.
There may be only one spot that is really up for grabs among the forwards and centers and it should be hotly contested.
Carmelo Anthony, voted in last year, is usually a sure-thing with the fans, but this year his teammate ‘The Unicorn’ Kristaps Porzingis is more popular and should easily draw greater fan support. Porzingis trailed Anthony by less than a 100,000 votes in 2016. The obvious media favorite and rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo could challenge Porzingis for a starting role, if only he played for a team more fans followed.
Paul George, second in frontcourt votes last year, has the talent to be a starter, but his team is flirting with the Lottery and his scoring is down 1.7 points from last season. There’s no buzz around George this year and that is going to make votes harder to get with new fresh faces coming onto the scene.
Ever since centers got lumped in with the forwards, this position has gotten shafted in All-Star voting and that isn’t likely to change this year.
Fan voting updates will be shared by the NBA on Thursday, January 5th and Thursday, January 12th and these updates matter. If a popular player is close to being voted in, their team’s fanbase is easily motivated to get behind their guy and push him over the top.
It also doesn’t hurt if a player and his team can get hot at the right time. Fans don’t like to vote for losers, this is no time to go cold.
Voting is easy. NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through Twitter, Facebook, NBA.com, the NBA App and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China. All current NBA players are eligible. Voting ends on Monday, January 16th at 11:59 p.m. E.T.