Lillard Surprised, Anthony Honored By First Round Of All-Star Votes

WASHINGTON D.C. -- On Thursday, the NBA released first returns from fan voting for starters at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, and in a change from previous seasons, the news is pretty good for the Portland Trail Blazers.

In his best showing in fan voting, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard comes in third among Western Conference guards, while Carmelo Anthony comes in at eighth among frontcourt players. Fan voting for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, held this year at the United Center in Chicago, started on Christmas Day.

Lillard’s 202,498 votes considerably trail Luka Doncic of the Mavericks and James Harden of the Rockets, who sit in first and second, respectively, among West guards. But the 6-3 guard in his eighth season out of Weber State has never come all that close to cracking the Top 3 in fan voting, so the first 2020 returns are pleasant surprise.

“I’m third?” said Damian Lillard, who is averaging 26.7 points on 44 percent shooting from the field, 7.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 36 minutes per game this season. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that high. It feels good. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to wait your turn. I think when your body of work builds up or adds up and you earn your respect. And people see that you didn’t have one or two or three good seasons, it’s been every year of improvement and being consistent.”

Despite playing in one of the NBA’s smaller markets, Lillard comes in ahead of players such as Stephen Curry (191,149), Russell Westbrook (189,005), D’Angelo Russell (122,499), Donovan Mitchell (108.349) and Devin Booker (91,817).

As for Anthony, his 142,292 votes puts him between Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets (160,934) and Brandon Ingram of the Pelicans (118,188), with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard taking the top three spots, respectively.

“My thing is it’s all about the fans at the end of the day,” said Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star. “That’s why we do what we do, for the love of the game but we also do it for the fans. So I appreciate everything that’s coming my way, especially coming from the fans, the support. Hopefully they’ll continue that support.”

After sitting out a year and not joining the Blazers roster until a month into the NBA season, Anthony making the 2020 All-Star Game would certainly raise some eyebrows. But if it happens, he’s going.

“If I get the opportunity I’ll definitely take the opportunity,” said Anthony, who is averaging 16.2 points on 42 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent shooting from three, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 31 minutes per game this season. “But we’ll see what happens.”

Of course, with changes made a few seasons ago, fan voting now is just a part of deciding which five players from both the West and East will start at the All-Star Game. According to the NBA…

Fans can vote on NBA.com, through the NBA app and on Google by searching "NBA Vote" or "NBA All-Star Vote." The results of voting will be announced on Thursday, January 23, with reserves, selected by coaches vote, a week later on January 30.