By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Jan 7 2010 2:02PM
Tracy McGrady has played a total of 47 minutes and hasn't been on the court since Christmas. Yet McGrady has increased his lead over Steve Nash for the second guard spot in Western Conference All-Star balloting.
Nash has played 1,208 minutes ... and quite effectively.
McGrady received 97,062 votes in the last seven days, 1,370 more than Nash. With the final update on balloting announced on Thursday, McGrady's lead over Nash (2,375 votes) is still the smallest of any position. It's also much smaller than the 214,000-vote lead that Gilbert Arenas overcame in the final two weeks of voting to beat out Vince Carter for a starting spot in 2007. But Arenas closed the gap on Carter in each of the previous two weeks. McGrady has had more votes than Nash each of the last two, even though he hasn't played a game in that time.
There are still 10 days left to vote. Paper balloting closes on Sunday, Jan. 10, while voting on NBA.com concludes on Monday, Jan. 18. Nash doesn't have any momentum, but it wouldn't take much of a pro-Nash movement to make a difference. If every media member, blogger and tweeter who has complained about McGrady's position as a potential starter voted for Nash every day for the next 10 days, Nash would be in the backcourt next to Kobe Bryant on Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium.
He may be anyway. McGrady has stated that he would make an appearance at All-Star Weekend if the fans voted him in, but wouldn't play out of respect for the other Western Conference guards who have earned a right to be there.
The closest race in the Eastern Conference is also at guard, where Allen Iverson increased his lead over Carter for the second spot by almost 30,000 votes since last week's update. Iverson now leads Carter by 185,132 votes. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo and Joe Johnson, who rank third and fourth among East guards in efficiency and who both play for teams with 22 or more wins, stand at eighth and seventh in voting, respectively. Rondo has less than a third of the votes that Iverson has.
If Iverson keeps his lead, the Eastern Conference would have the same starting lineup as it did last season, as Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard look to be locks.
The Western Conference starting lineup will be new, of course. With the exception of 2007, when he missed the game with an injury,Yao Ming has manned the center spot for the West since his rookie season.
Right now, Amar'e Stoudemire will take Yao's spot in Dallas, and he'll surely be joined by Kobe Bryant at guard and Carmelo Anthony at forward. But the second West forward spot is still very much up for grabs. Dirk Nowitzki leads Tim Duncan by 49,905 votes and Pau Gasol by 72,060. Both Duncan (90,835) and Gasol (86,303) garnered more votes than Nowitzki (72,159) over the last week.
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