CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25:  Kyrie Irving #2 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shake hands during the game against the Golden State Warriors on December 25, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

JAMES AND IRVING LEAD IN FIRST FAN RETURNS OF NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2017

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are the top two vote-getters overall, while Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors lead all Western Conference players in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon.
 
The first week of fan voting for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, produced close races in both conferences and generated 138% more votes cast (11,174,153) than during the same time period last year (4,693,433).
 
James, a 12-time All-Star, received 595,288 votes to earn the top spot among all players.  Joining James at the top of the Eastern Conference frontcourt are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (500,663) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (250,347), with rookie Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers (221,984) next on the list.  Irving (543,030) and 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls (278,052) lead the East guards, followed by the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan (253,340).
  
Durant, who owns the highest scoring average in All-Star Game history (25.6 ppg), paces all West players with 541,209 votes.  He is followed in the West frontcourt by Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia (439,675) and the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (341,240), who edges the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (318,144).  Curry (523,597) narrowly tops a tight race among West guards, with the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (519,446) edging two-time reigning All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (501,652) for second place.
 
For the first time ever, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the starters for the NBA All-Star Game. Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each.  Player and media voting will begin next week, with each participant completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from both conferences. 
 
After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes.  Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.  The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters.  Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score.
 
See below for the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon.
 
NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2017 PRESENTED BY VERIZON
 
Eastern Conference
Frontcourt
1          LeBron James (CLE) 595,288
2          Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 500,663
3          Kevin Love (CLE) 250,347
4          Joel Embiid (PHI) 221,984
5          Carmelo Anthony (NY) 189,817
6          Jimmy Butler (CHI) 189,066
7          Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 184,166
8          Paul George (IND) 138,332
9          Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 72,628
10         Jabari Parker (MIL) 64,141
 
Guards
1          Kyrie Irving (CLE) 543,030
2          Dwyane Wade (CHI) 278,052
3          DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 253,340
4          Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 193,297
5          Derrick Rose (NY) 129,924
6          Kyle Lowry (TOR) 128,940
7          John Wall (WAS) 87,360
8          Jeremy Lin (BKN) 59,562
9          Kemba Walker (CHA) 52,122
10        Avery Bradley (BOS) 32,822
 
Western Conference
Frontcourt
1          Kevin Durant (GS) 541,209
2          Zaza Pachulia (GS) 439,675
3          Kawhi Leonard (SA) 341,240
4          Anthony Davis (NO) 318,144
5          Draymond Green (GS) 236,315
6          DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 202,317
7          Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 125,278
8          LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 101,724
9          Blake Griffin (LAC) 100,524
10        Marc Gasol (MEM) 97,370
 
Guards
1          Stephen Curry (GS) 523,597
2          James Harden (HOU) 519,446
3          Russell Westbrook (OKC) 501,652
4          Klay Thompson (GS) 293,054
5          Chris Paul (LAC) 173,830
6          Damian Lillard (POR) 117,857
7          Eric Gordon (HOU) 76,609
8          Manu Ginobili (SA) 65,832
9          Andre Iguodala (GS) 64,247
10        Zach LaVine (MIN) 53,642

Source: Pitch London
Image: Getty / NBA