LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant lead All-Star voting

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant lead All-Star voting
December 12, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Mark Strotman

Kobe Bryant returned to the Lakers lineup just four days ago after missing the first 20 games of the season, but his fans have been working hard since the NBA All-Star voting opened.

Bryant leads all Western Conference backcourt players with more than 500,000 votes, the league revealed announcing the first returns on ballots.

The 15-time All-Star and 4-time All-Star Game MVP has played just two games, logged 57 minutes and scored 29 points and yet finds himself atop the ballot over the likes of Chris Paul and Steph Curry, two early-season MVP candidates. It shouldn't come as a total surprise, however, considering fans vote through a bevy of social-media outlets to determine the starters. Coaches fill out the respective rosters through a vote.

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Leading the way in total votes is LeBron James, who continues to improve in his 11th NBA season. The nine-time All-Star is averaging 25.0 points on 58 percent shooting, 6.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists and has tallied more than 609,000 votes. Budding star Paul George ranks just below James in the Eastern Conference with 489,335 votes. George was voted to his first All-Star Game last season as a reserve, though he's almost guaranteed to start this season as the Pacers' leading scorer. New York's Carmelo Anthony trails George by about 65,000 votes.

The backcourt in the East is led by Miami's Dwyane Wade (396,279 votes) and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving (365,712 votes). Injured Bulls star Derrick Rose ranks third in the East backcourt voting with 272,410 votes. Rose, who is out for the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee, wouldn't be able to accept the invitation to start in the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans, but fans are proving they haven't forgotten about the former MVP. For that matter, Boston's Rajon Rondo, who has not played a game this year while recovering from ACL surgery, is seventh among East backcourt players.

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In the East, the NBA's leading scorer Kevin Durant leads the way with more than 607,000 votes, just shy of James' league-leading 609,000 votes. A four-time All-Star, Durant is averaging 28.4 points and a career-best 8.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in his seventh NBA season. Trailing Durant is Houston's Dwight Howard (295,120 votes) and Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (292,925).

Balloting concludes on Jan. 20, with the starters being announced live on TNT on Jan. 23 during a one-hour edition of Inside the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith.

Here are the leaders in NBA voting, for both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference:

Eastern Conference

Frontcourt

1. LeBron James (Mia) 609,336
2. Paul George (Ind) 489,335
3. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 424,211
4. Roy Hibbert (Ind) 208,369
5. Chris Bosh (Mia) 156,364
6. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 102,825
7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 75,229
8. Jeff Green (Bos) 55,912
9. Luol Deng (Chi) 54,340
10. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 51,738
11. Andre Drummond (Det) 51,351
12. Carlos Boozer (Chi) 48,745
13. Paul Pierce (BKN) 45,145
14. Brook Lopez (BKN) 37,153
15. Josh Smith (Det) 32,025

Backcourt 

1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 396,279
2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 365,712
3. Derrick Rose (Chi) 272,410
4. John Wall (Was) 124,851
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 99,464
6. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 80,889
7. Deron Williams (BKN) 44,282
8. George Hill (Ind) 42,536
9. Evan Turner (Phi) 33,605
10. Mario Chalmers (Mia) 32,996

Western Conference

Frontcourt 

1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 607,407
2. Dwight Howard (Hou) 295,120
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 292,925
4. Kevin Love (Min) 275,506
5. Tim Duncan (SA) 217,271
6. Anthony Davis (NO) 149,579
7. Pau Gasol (LAL) 133,199
8. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 132,818
9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 109,745
10. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 89,093
11. Chandler Parsons (Hou) 77,179
12. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 60,923
13. David Lee (GS) 60,015
14. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 55,023
15. Omer Asik (Hou) 53,827

Backcourt

1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 501,215
2. Chris Paul (LAC) 393,313
3. Stephen Curry (GS) 327,449
4. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 240,404
5. James Harden (Hou) 198,667
6. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 149,065
7. Tony Parker (SA) 112,423
8. Ricky Rubio (Min) 63,096
9. Steve Nash (LAL) 60,782
10. Damian Lillard (Por) 55,847