The votes are in and we know who will start in the All-Star Game on Feb. 16. As expected and as announced on TNT on Thursday, LeBron James and Kevin Durant led their respective conferences, with James receiving 1,416,419 votes and Durant receiving 1,396,294 votes.
Let's take a look at all of the starters:
More All-Star reads
More All-Star reads
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: The 32-year-old is leading all shooting guards in PER and having one of his most efficient seasons. He's shooting a career-high 54 percent and scoring 18.9 points in 33.3 minutes per game. Sure, he has to take the occasional game off, but if that means the Heat will get this version of Wade in the playoffs rather than the banged-up one they had last postseason, it's a sound strategy.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: This has been a down year for Irving by any statistical measure, and the Cavaliers' miserable 15-27 record will likely lead some television analysts to argue he doesn't merit a starting selection. Still, you understand why the fans voted him in. Irving has made All-Star weekend his stage since he coming the league, dominating the Rising Stars challenge as a rookie and then winning the Three-Point Shootout and having strong showings in both Rising Stars and the All-Star Game last year.
LeBron James, Miami Heat: Each set of voting returns has had James at the very top, and this should surprise no one. He's having a ridiculously efficient season, treating field-goal percentage like Rajon Rondo treats assists per game. There have been recent criticisms about his defensive intensity, but that's just nitpicking when we're talking about the best player on the planet. He'll have to play center, kind of, with this set of starters.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers: The reigning Most Improved Player has probably actually improved more than any other player since taking home that hardware, elevating his game to the point where he's a reliable No. 1 option on offense. He hasn't stopped guarding the other team's No. 1 option, either. The fact he's this good on both ends at 23 years old is incredible, and the fact that fans gave him over 275,000 more votes than the next guy on the list is encouraging.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: There are valid arguments for Roy Hibbert and Chris Bosh here, especially with the Knicks' 15-27 record. Anthony is putting up superb numbers yet again, though, averaging 26.1 points and a career-high 9.0 rebounds in 39 minutes per game. Anthony doesn't even come close to James, Durant or George defensively, but he's an obvious All-Star.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Even though Bryant asked his fans not to vote for him, he still ended up making his 16th All-Star Game. Bryant has missed most of the season, first recovering from a torn Achilles and then suffering a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. If he can't participate and Chris Paul can't either, there are numerous candidates to fill in, but our best guess would be the Houston Rockets' James Harden.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: The outrage over his non-selection to last year's festivities, his 54-point game at Madison Square Garden last February and his multiple postseason explosions have caused Curry's popularity to soar. He deserved to make the team last year, and he deserves to start this year, averaging a career-high 23.5 points per game and improving immensely as a distributor. His 9.2 assists per game ranks second only to Paul, and fans can't get enough of his three-point shooting. Curry launches a league-high 8.4 per game and makes 38.3 percent of them.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. There is a credible argument that Durant is the MVP of the league this year, despite the fact that LeBron James exists. With Russell Westbrook out of the lineup for a huge chunk of the season, Durant has carried Oklahoma City to a 33-10 record, good for first in the West. Durant is leading the league in scoring at 31 points per game, and he's continued to make strides as a passer and a defender. Despite leading his conference in votes, his all-around game is still underrated.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: His detractors have it all wrong. Griffin is a supremely skilled power forward whose improved jump shot, vision and post moves to go along with his insane finishing and rebounding ability make him an elite player. You can make cases for LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and even Anthony Davis here, but Griffin is a fine pick and his consistency without Chris Paul has been phenomenal.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love made a late run in the voting to surpass Dwight Howard of the Rockets. Love finished with 661,246 votes, roughly 8,000 more than Howard. It is the third career All-Star appearance for Love, and his first start. The sixth-year pro is averaging 25.0 points per game and his 13.0 rebounds per contest is second in the NBA. Love leads the NBA with 35 double-doubles.
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