Lillard Sixth Among West Guards In First Round Of All-Star Voting

by Casey Holdahl
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After few tweaks to the system since moving away from paper ballots, the NBA has changed voting for All-Star starters in multiple ways over the past few seasons.

First, fan vote now only makes up 50 percent of the vote with current players getting 25 percent and NBA media getting the other 25, whereas before, fan vote completely determined which 10 players would start the yearly exhibition.

And in the second move, the league drastically culled down the voting options, which for the last few seasons had heavily prioritized voting on various social media platforms, in favor of a system that only tabulates votes made on NBA.com, the NBA's app and Google. Some theorized that with those changes, deserving players from small market teams might stand a better chance of being voted in as starters.

And perhaps that will ultimately be the case, though the first fan voting returns looks similar to the past few seasons, with LeBron James leading all players with just over a million votes, followed Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry all leading their respective conferences at their positions.

Then there's Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard coming in sixth among Western Conference guards with 200,609 votes. Despite ranking in the Top 10 of various statistical categories, Lillard comes in with far fewer votes than Curry (793,111 votes), Derrick Rose (698,086 votes) and James Harden (541,606 votes) and Klay Thompson (247,618 votes). But perhaps more concerning is that despite playing the best basketball of his career, he's not all that far ahead of DeMar DeRozan (197,524 votes) and Lonzo Ball (175,040 votes). Lillard also trails Eastern Conference guards Irving (910,329 votes), Dwyane Wade (409,156 votes), Kemba Walker (319,519 votes) and Ben Simmons (259,993) while leading the likes of Victor Oladipo (198,009) and Kyle Lowry (180,571), though he's not competing with those players, as conference are still kept separate for voting, even if the teams will be mixed.

But the good news is that Lillard is already well ahead of where he was last year in terms of votes, and is slightly improved with regarding to rank among the other candidates. After the first round of returns in 2018, Lillard was seventh among backcourt players with 148,622 votes, so the fact that he's already eclipsed the 200,000 vote mark is a sign of progress. Also worth noting that Stephen Curry led Western Conference guard voting at this time last year with 735,115 votes, so Lillard's increase isn't a function of more votes league-wide, which is a good sign.

But most importantly, there's still time to cast your vote for Lillard, CJ McCollum, who did not make the Top 10 of Western Conference vote-getting guards, or any other Trail Blazer using the following methods...

NBA.com voting page at NBA.com/vote: Fill out one full ballot per day (per day is defined as once every 24 hours) on NBA.com/vote from a desktop or mobile browser.  Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters.

NBA App: Access the ballot and vote through the app, which is available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day and select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters.

Google: Vote on Google.com or the Google Search App by searching “NBA Vote” and “NBA All-Star Vote” or simply by searching for your favorite player or team. Fans may submit votes for 10 unique players per day.

The Google Assistant: NBA All-Star Voting is available on the Google Assistant for the first time.  Vote via any Google Assistant-enabled device by saying, “Google, talk to NBA All-Star.”  Fans may submit votes for up to 10 unique players per day.  The Google Assistant is available on laptops, phones, speakers, tablets and other connected devices. 

Voting ends on January 21 and the starters will be announced a few days later on TNT's "NBA Tip-Off" with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith. Reserves, which are selected solely by the NBA's head coaches, will be announced on January 31 with the All-Star Game to be held on February 17 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC.