LeBron James, Kevin Durant Lead 3rd Return of NBA All-Star Voting

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2014

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 7: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball up the court against the New Orleans Pelicans at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on Jan. 7, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 2014 (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The third set of results from the NBA's All-Star voting is in, and there have actually been a few shakeups. 

Much to the surprise of absolutely no one, LeBron James has more votes than anyone else in the Association. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is a close second while leading the much more competitive Western Conference race.

Those aren't the shakeups, though. 

That would be one of the surprises, as Stephen Curry has moved past Chris Paul in the West's starting backcourt. 

In just one season, we've seen the league's premier sharpshooter go from sitting out of the contest entirely to holding down one of the starting spots. Also notable is Kobe Bryant's absolutely insane popularity: 

Even though he's played only six games and struggled during most of them, the Mamba still has so many fans that he's the clear-cut front-runner in this portion of the ballot. And that's despite Kobe himself telling the Associated Press (via NBA.com) that he wants fans to vote for the younger guys who deserve selection. 

The Eastern Conference's backcourt doesn't have as many surprises: 

Derrick Rose has fallen out of the starting lineup, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if John Wall moved past him by the time the voting officially closes, which happens 10 days after this release. 

The East's frontcourt, meanwhile, looks exactly like it should: 

No surprises there, though it's notable that LeBron would be the East's starting center in this scenario. Anyone else want to see him jump against Dwight Howard when the game opens?

This lack of head-scratching results doesn't apply to the NBA's toughest conference: 

Of the four sections, this is probably the most interesting. 

Durant clearly deserves to lead the pool, but the second and third spots are up for grabs. Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin are duking it out for No. 2, separated by what feels like only a handful of votes, while Kevin Love is in fourth place with a closable gap on both of the current starters.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 8: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves rebounds against the Phoenix Suns on January 8, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or usi
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Right now, Love, who is averaging 26.1 points, 13.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, has emerged as the game's best power forward, though LaMarcus Aldridge won't let him run away with the title. But if voting closed after this third return, neither would make it into the starting lineup.

Hmmm. Something feels funky about that.

As always, there's plenty to gripe about when it comes to All-Star voting. It's a popularity contest after all, so feel free to make fun of these selections (while taking the time to praise the ones the fans got correct) until the starters are officially announced.