Good morning. Let’s basketball.
SHOCKING VOTE RESULTS? WELL, THAT’S NEW: The final vote totals for the 2017 NBA All-Star starters were released on Thursday. Predictions made by yours truly mostly came true: Kyrie Irving reigned in the East backcourt thanks to the fan vote, and Stephen Curry edged Russell Westbrook for the same reason. The one surprise was that DeMar DeRozan — not Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, or even John Wall — landed the second East guard spot.
To be clear, there is no way Curry deserves to start over Westbrook. But that result was predictable based on the fan vote and the lack of a fourth legitimate contender in player and media voting. There ended up being six competitive options for the East backcourt, but not the ones we thought: Dwyane Wade did better than Kemba Walker. Hell, Derrick Rose did better than Kemba Walker.
I, for one, am shocked that the media ranked Lowry as the No. 4 guard in the East and players put him at No. 5. Thomas actually tied DeRozan in overall weighted score, but DeRozan got the edge due to winning the fan vote tiebreaker (by about 41,000 votes). If Boston is mad, it has only itself to blame. The players and media both had Thomas over DeRozan.
The noncontroversial All-Star starters include LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo (!!!) and Jimmy Butler in the East, and James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard in the West. Joel Embiid did catch Butler in the fan vote, but finished sufficiently low in the player vote to get bumped. DeMarcus Cousins was the closest competitor to Davis in the West frontcourt as players bumped Draymond Green all the way down to No. 9!
Here are the vote totals. Coaches will pick the reserves, and they will be announced on Jan. 26.
VOTING REFORM: Tim Cato has two really good ideas on how to improve this new All-Star starter vote format for next year: change the tiebreaker, and prevent players from voting for themselves. I actually don’t think most of those players who have one vote actually voted for themselves. I think teammates and friends are making joke votes. In fact, I’m guessing that either a majority of players included at least one joke vote on their ballot or like a third of the ballots were total joke ballots. Odds are some guys decided to just vote for their team’s starting five, or their team’s bench mob, or their team’s rookies and fringe players, or guys that went to the same college or are from the same part of the country.
The solution there isn’t to ban self-votes (that just creates something for the league to police, which would be so annoying). The solution is to give players a pre-set selection of options without a write-in option. Make it broad enough to not snub any reasonable candidates, but prevent all these useless votes.
TURNOUT: Shout out to players for their ~75 percent turnout rate. Better than America at much lower stakes!
SCORES GALORE ...
Suns 103, Cavaliers 118
Mavericks 95, Heat 99
Wizards 113, Knicks 110
Nuggets 104, Spurs 118
Wolves 104, Clippers 101
YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE: The race for the West’s No. 8 seed is an embarrassing disaster.
LONZO AND THE BALLERS: Lee Jenkins hangs out with Lonzo Ball and the UCLA Bruins.
[INTRIGUED FACE] More info on two-way D-League contracts.
NEXT UP: Big ESPN game at 8 p.m. ET: Warriors at Rockets. That is followed at 10:30 by ... Pacers-Lakers. ABC’s Saturday night schedule launches this week with Spurs-Cavaliers (8:30 p.m. ET), as well.
Be strong. Be resolute. Be excellent to each other.