The NBA released the second returns for All-Star voting on Thursday, which revealed that no one has overtaken the Indiana Pacers' Paul George for a starting frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference. George (457,544), a two-time All-Star, continues to trail LeBron James (636,388) in the balloting, but leads current third-place holder Andre Drummond (261,158) by nearly 200,000 votes.
November's Player of the Month gained nearly 175,000 votes since the first returns were released on Christmas Day, signaling that voters were not dissuaded by his late-December shooting woes as much as they were encouraged by his overall comeback. After averaging 29.5 points, fourth-best in the league, on 47.7 percent shooting in November, George's field-goal percentage fell by 10 percentage points in December (37.1%) as he adjusted to teams sending multiple defenders to contain him.
Indiana's star has since responded, averaging 28.0 points and 9.3 rebounds while connecting on 43.3 percent of his field-goal attempts over the last three games.
While George's numbers are back to reinforcing his All-Star bid, the second returns underscore the notion that voters are still motivated more by popularity than they are by stats or team record.
Kobe Bryant's farewell tour, barring a huge surprise, has locked him into a starting frontcourt spot in the Western Conference. Kyrie Irving (271,094) remains narrowly ahead of Kyle Lowry (242,276) in the Eastern Conference backcourt voting, despite having only played in seven games this season. And Kawhi Leonard, the reigning DPOY and current league leader in three-point percentage (minimum 100 attempts), will likely come off the bench in Toronto.
Per official release, the next balloting update will be announced on Thursday, January 14. With a few spots closely contested, viewers could still be in for some surprises when the starters are revealed live on TNT on Thursday, January 21.
Here are the latest results in the East:
1. LeBron James (Cle) 636,388
2. Paul George (Ind) 457,554
3. Andre Drummond (Det) 261,158
4. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 255,536
5. Pau Gasol (Chi) 209,006
6. Chris Bosh (Mia) 194,429
7. Kevin Love (Cle) 172,517
8. Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 168,549
9. Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 160,170
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 48,768
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 562,558
2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 271,094
3. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 242,276
4. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 220,429
5. John Wall (Was) 207,274
6. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 170,539
7. Derrick Rose (Chi) 159,787
8. Jeremy Lin (Cha) 122,988
9. Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 87,452
10. Reggie Jackson (Det) 44,525