If early voting returns are any indication, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are going to be drafting teams for the NBA All-Star Game once again.
The NBA released the first returns on fan voting for the 2023 edition of the game Thursday, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets stars are leading their respective conferences. Elsewhere, Stephen Curry leads Western Conference guards in the voting, while Kyrie Irving leads the backcourt in the Eastern Conference:
NBA Communications @NBAPR
LeBron James and Kevin Durant lead their respective conferences in the first fan returns of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAAllStar?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAAllStar</a> Voting presented by AT&T. <br><br>Fans account for 50% of the vote to decide All-Star starters. NBA players and a media panel account for 25% each. <br><br>The next fan update is Jan. 12. <a href="https://t.co/osVeUGI8H4">pic.twitter.com/osVeUGI8H4</a>
It comes as no surprise that James and Durant are the leading vote-getters.
LeBron is on the shortest of shortlists when it comes to the best players in NBA history, and he also plays on a major stage with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is well on his way to a 19th career All-Star Game and is carrying his team by averaging 29.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
Durant is a generational superstar who will earn his 13th All-Star nod of his career if this voting pattern continues. He is a major reason the Nets have won 16 of their past 18 games and is averaging 29.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
This season will mark the sixth time the top two vote-getters will draft their teams instead of going by the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format for the All-Star Game.
James has been a captain every year of the new format and has drafted against Durant twice. It is becoming something of a pattern, although he also drafted against Giannis Antetokounmpo twice and Stephen Curry.
Team LeBron is 5-0 in All-Star Games using the captain format.
The next voting update will be provided next Thursday, and the starters will be revealed on Jan. 26 on TNT. The reserves will then be announced on Feb. 2 on TNT.
This year's All-Star Game will take place in the Utah Jazz's Vivint Arena on Feb. 19.