Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and Los Angeles Lakers playmaker LeBron James are the leading vote-getters in early balloting announced Thursday for the NBA All-Star Game.
No showdown of elite Eastern and Western conference squads is on the schedule due to Covid-19 issues that have shortened the season, but talks are ongoing between the league and players about staging such a game in March.
Durant -- who set the pace with 2,302,705 votes -- is averaging 30.8 points, second-best in the NBA, as well as 7.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists a game for the Nets, who at 14-9 rank third in the Eastern Conference.
James -- best in the Western Conference with 2,288,676 -- is averaging 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists a game for the reigning NBA champion Lakers, who are third overall in the West at 16-6.
Joining Durant in East frontcourt spots were two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece on 1,752,185 and Cameroonian big man Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers on 1,584,028. Boston's Jason Tatum was a distant fourth at 822,151.
In the West frontcourt, James was followed by Serbian center Nikola Jokic of Denver on 1,477,975 votes with Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers third on 1,285,777. Anthony Davis of the Lakers was in fourth on 1,192,881.
Golden State's Stephen Curry led the West backcourt with 2,113,178 votes, third in overall balloting, with Dallas guard Luka Doncic on Slovenia next on 1,395,719. Portland's Damian Lillard was third on 998,853.
NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, averaging 34.8 points a contest, led the East guards with 1,273,817 votes while Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving was second on 1,093,611 followed by teammate James Harden on 1,014,763.
Worldwide fan voting began a week ago and will conclude on February 16. The starting lineup selections will be announced on February 18 and All-Star reserves chosen by NBA coaches will be named on February 23.
Fan balloting will count for 50% of a player's total with current player voting and a media panel each contributing 25% to decide a final ranking for each player.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are in talks about playing an all-star contest on March 7 at Atlanta, during a planned mid-season break in the league schedule.
© Agence France-Presse
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