According to the latest official release from the NBA, retiring Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is a shoo-in to start for the Western Conference in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto on February 14.
According to NBA.com, Bryant led all NBA players in fan votes with 1,533,432 as of January 14. The voting closed at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, and the All-Star starters will be announced on TNT on Thursday.
Here's a look at the players who will be accompanying Bryant as All-Star starters if the voting rankings didn't change by time the polls closed:
- Kobe Bryant - 1,533,432
- Kevin Durant - 774,782
- Draymond Green - 499,947
- LeBron James - 830,345
- Paul George - 569,947
- Carmelo Anthony - 368,336
Predicting the Winners of Tightest Battles
Day-Day Will Hold Off The Claw
Let's face it—the Golden State Warriors fanbase seems to grow on a weekly basis. Fans love winners, and no team has won more than the defending champions over the last 18 months. That gives Draymond Green a bit of an edge over the quiet but spectacular San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
Both Green and Leonard are amazing young players, but it's rare for any Spurs player to win a popularity contest—much less a guy as reserved as Leonard. The Claw will undoubtedly be voted in by the coaches, but Green will likely extend his lead over Leonard to win the starting nod.
Motown Will Push Dre Back in Front of Melo
The city of Detroit had a challenge ahead of it. It was forced to respond in support of its team MVP and league-leading rebounder, Andre Drummond. Based on the latest release, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony moved ahead of the Motown Mastodon for the final starting spot in the Eastern Conference frontcourt by just 7,029 votes.
The Detroit Pistons worked hard via social media to get Drummond the votes he needed to start in the game:
With the Pistons playing their best basketball in years, the fans likely delivered, and Drummond will be rewarded with a well-earned starting spot.
Lowry Won't Catch Irving Despite Incentive Tweets
It would be a cool story if the fans voted Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry an All-Star starter in the game in his team's home city. As of now, he trails Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving by 32,285 votes.
Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy clearly wants to change that. He offered to give away not one, but three iPhone 6S Pluses if fans would help get Lowry into the starting lineup:
It's a definite power move from a guy who has 776,000 followers on Twitter, but it's not as if Cavs fans have all thrown their respective cellular devices out of the window. Irving's lead is a little too big for Lowry to overcome—even with the promise of free phones.