Fan voting for the 2023 NBA All-Star game is continuing at quite apace, and perhaps unsurprisingly, two big names lead the way. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant are top of the tree in the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively.
Fan votes will count for 50% of the total; as such, they mean a great deal, and millions have cast their votes accordingly. In the West, LeBron has thus far amassed a total of in excess of 3.1 million votes, putting the four-time NBA champion ahead of Nikola Jokic in terms of the frontcourt, while Steph Curry leads the guards with a total of 2.7 million.
Durant also has 3.1 million votes in the East, clear of Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the Milwaukee Bucks star in the second spot.
You can never underestimate the pull of star power when it comes to these fan votes, with LeBron James having the most votes despite the fact that this Lakers side is not a team you’d want to back with your sports bet, which you should only place after doing the relevant sportsbook research, not least as the Crypto.com Arena team aren’t exactly well placed to make it to the post-season.
While the Lakers may be bottom of the Pacific Division with a 19-21 record, Durant’s Nets are looking a lot healthier under new head coach Jacque Vaughn than under his predecessor Steve Nash.
The Nets are now on a run of 14 wins from 15 and sit second in the Eastern Conference and just a game behind the leaders, the Boston Celtics. Durant’s form has been a big reason for their return to form at the Barclays Center.
The 34-year-old has been remarkably consistent in 2022-23, top-scoring for Brooklyn in 27 of the team’s 40 games thus far. Durant has made it to the NBA All-Star game on 12 previous occasions, and a 13th is a certainty.
Indeed the only issue that may prevent such an occurrence could be injury related. Durant hobbled out of Brooklyn’s recent 102-101 win over the Miami Heat in the third quarter with an apparent right knee issue.
It was around this time last season that Durant suffered a sprained MCL, and that saw him out of action for five weeks, and Vaughn will hope that history isn’t set to repeat itself.
Prior to his leaving the court, Durant passed Dominique Wilkins on the all-time NBA point-scoring charts, moving into 14th place when he hit his 26,669th point.
Though the Nets are more than just Durant, and Vaughn has a decent level of strength in depth in his roster, it should not be underestimated just how crucial it is for Brooklyn to have their number seven firing on all cylinders for a large portion of the regular season and beyond.
It’s not just his playing ability that matters to the Nets; it’s also the air of calm and togetherness that he promotes and exudes, and Durant himself can feel things are better in the locker room than in recent seasons, commenting recently;
“I think coming into the training camp, we understood that it’s going to be a lot on us from a media standpoint, from just the noise in general around our team, so I think that made us tighter once camp started,”
“We started to win some games, started to get better as a team, and do some things out there that work for us. And now it seems like everything was patched all together, but it felt like it was always cool, to be honest.” Durant added.