The fans no longer have all the power in determining the starters for the NBA All-Star Game, but their vote is still the biggest piece of the pie in selecting the five players from each conference who will begin the game. The first round of fan voting results are in for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 18 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, and like always, the fans got some things right, and some things wrong.
The NBA All-Star starters are determined by 50 percent fan voting, 25 percent media voting, and 25 percent player voting. Two backcourt players and three frontcourt players are selected to start the game from each conference. The league determines the positions, and it’s created some really tough choices for the fans this year.
Because of the positional breakdown, one of the following players will have to come off the bench in the East this year: Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. We had all four of those players in our top-six of MVP voting so far, but none of them are eligible for a backcourt spot. It’s past time for the league to just eliminate positions altogether for the All-Star Game, but until that happens, a couple players will always be unhappy.
Here are the results for the first round of fan voting for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, with our analysis on how the fans did below:
What the fans got right so far in 2023 NBA All-Star game voting
- Kevin Durant is the East’s leading vote-getter: Durant is turning in one of the best years of his career at age 34, and he has a real shot at winning MVP. The Nets’ season was on the brink of falling apart after a 1-5 start that saw the team fire head coach Steve Nash and suspend Kyrie Irving for sharing antisemitic propaganda on social media. Somehow, Durant pulled them out of the mud with his most efficient scoring season ever, averaging 30 points per game on a remarkable 68 percent true shooting. There are so many young stars all over the NBA these days, but it’s possible Durant is still the best player in the world.
- Donovan Mitchell would start in the backcourt for the East: The best guard in the Eastern Conference this year has been Donovan Mitchell. Fresh off a 71-point game against the Bulls, Mitchell is the second-leading vote-getter among East guards so far, and would be in line to start the game. Mitchell is an incredibly explosive scorer in tight spaces, and has given Cleveland a second guard who can create shots for himself and others. Mitchell should start this game even if the NBA eliminated positions. He’s been one of the five best players in the conference thus far.
- Luka Doncic would start in the backcourt for the West: Doncic’s recent 60-point triple-double against the Knicks was a reminder of what every hardcore NBA fan already knows: the 23-year-old Mavs superstar is on track to be an all-time great player, and he’s only getting better and better every year. Doncic is 6’7, 230 pounds, but he’s categorized as a guard. Whether it’s Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander starting next to him is up for debate, but there’s no doubt Doncic should be an All-Star starter.
What the fans have wrong so far in 2023 NBA All-Star game voting
- LeBron James should not be the leading vote-getter so far: LeBron has had a remarkable season for someone in year No. 20 of their career, but he’s no longer in competition for the title of best player in the world. James has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, and while he’s still putting up impressive numbers, it feels like he’s more concerned with chasing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record than trying to squeeze every win out of a doomed Lakers season. LeBron is still awesome, but shouldn’t have more votes than someone like Nikola Jokic. If the West started its five best players this season, LeBron would likely be coming off the bench.
- Kyrie Irving should’t be starting for the East: Irving has had another great season scoring the ball for a resurgent Nets team, but making the case that he deserves to be an All-Star starter is a stretch. Irving was out of the lineup for an extended period with his suspension for sharing disinformation on Twitter, and he’s putting up the lowest assist numbers of his career and his worst three-point shooting numbers since 2016. Boston’s Jaylen Brown averaging more points per game than Irving this season, and provides more defensively. Tyrese Haliburton from the Indiana Pacers would be another good option as an All-Star starter. The five best players in the East this season are Antetokounmpo, Durant, Embiid, Tatum, and Mitchell, but they can’t all start because of the positional requirements. Still, Brown is a better choice than Irving for a backcourt starter.
- The Kings need more fan votes for their terrific season: Where is Domantas Sabonis on the Western Conference fan voting? Sabonis is currently No. 7 on basketball-reference’s MVP tracker, but he’s nowhere to be found in the first fan vote. De’Aaron Fox is also notably absent from the West’s top-10 guard list despite having an awesome year as the engine driving the Kings’ surprising success. Get out and vote, Sacramento! Your players deserve it.
- Austin Reaves and Russell Westbrook shouldn’t be in the top-10 of West backcourt voting: It’s good to play for the Lakers. Reaves is a nice player, but he wouldn’t be in the top-10 of All-Star voting on any other team in the league. Westbrook has been in trade rumors all season and got moved to the bench, and he is still No. 6 in All-Star voting, ahead of Damian Lillard. This is ridiculous and should not happen.
- Where’s Bam Adebayo in the East front court voting? The Heat have been disappointing this year, but Adebayo is having one of the best seasons of his career. He should be in the top-10 of Eastern Conference All-Star voting even if he doesn’t deserve to start in a loaded year.
What do you think the fans got right? What do you think they got wrong? Let us know in the comments.