It's looking increasingly like the captains for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be the same stars as a year ago.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James lead the second returns of All-Star voting, released Thursday by the NBA. Antetokounmpo looks like a near-lock to be an All-Star captain for the second straight season, while James is closely followed by Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and teammate Anthony Davis.
Western Conference All-Star Voting
1. LeBron James (LAL) 3,359,871
2. Anthony Davis (LAL) 3,124,446
3. Kawhi Leonard (LAC) 2,210,539
4. Paul George (LAC) 845,719
5. Nikola Jokic (DEN) 559,881
1. Luka Doncic (DAL) 3,277,870
2. James Harden (HOU) 2,167,269
3. Damian Lillard (POR) 687,855
4. Stephen Curry (GSW) 595,913
5. Russell Westbrook (HOU) 581,500
Eastern Conference All-Star Voting
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 3,259,383
2. Joel Embiid (PHI) 1,784,211
3. Pascal Siakam (TOR) 1,730,763
4. Jimmy Butler (MIA) 1,400,293
5. Jayson Tatum (BOS) 1,182,663
1. Trae Young (ATL) 1,389,628
2. Kyrie Irving (BKN) 1,351,997
3. Kemba Walker (BOS) 1,331,577
4. Derrick Rose (DET) 918,550
5. Zach LaVine (CHI) 572,022
James has been an All-Star captain each of the first two years under the new fantasy draft format. Fan voting represents 50 percent of the formula used to determine All-Stars, with media members and players each having a 25 percent share. The captains will be the players with the highest fan voting among starters in each conference.
Neither James nor Antetokounmpo will have any trouble getting the requisite votes to become starters. James and Davis have revived the Lakers from more than a half-decade of ineptitude, leading them to a 30-7 record that tops the Western Conference. LeBron is averaging a career-high 10.8 assists per game, which would mark the first time he's ever led the NBA in that category.
Antetokounmpo is the runaway favorite to win his second consecutive MVP. The Bucks are an NBA-best 33-6, and Giannis is the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1965-66 to average 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in a season.
While LeBron and Giannis are locks, there's definitely room for movement elsewhere in the voting. Lakers guard Alex Caruso and Celtics center Tacko Fall continue to ascend in the voting due to their cult followings. Caruso is currently sixth among Western Conference guards, ahead of Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker. Fall, the 7'6" center who has played all of 21 minutes this season, is sixth in the Eastern frontcourt voting ahead of guys like Bam Adebayo, Domantas Sabonis and Andre Drummond.
The most controversial pick among fan voting at the moment is Kyrie Irving, who has missed all but 11 games this season due to a shoulder injury. Irving ranks a little more than 20,000 votes ahead of Kemba Walker, who has spearheaded the Celtics' charge to the No. 3 seed in the East.
"I think I've put in a lot of work in this league to be up there whether I'm playing or not. And if you want to see an All Star game, I'd vote for myself as well," Irving told reporters Thursday.
However, it's unlikely Irving will wind up being an All-Star due to the 50 percent sway of the media and players.