The first round of NBA All-Star fan votes are in, and there is good news for Paul George.
The seven-time All-Star, who was a reserve last season, sits at third among frontcourt players in the Western Conference behind LeBron James and reigning MVP Nikola Jokić. The two leading guards in the West are Stephen Curry — who leads all players in fan voting — and Luka Dončić. Incidentally, if you substitute Paul George in for Kawhi Leonard, the five projected starters by fan vote are the same five players who started for Team LeBron in the 2021 All-Star Game, give or take a Clipper.
Golden State's Stephen Curry and Brooklyn's Kevin Durant lead the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively, in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting presented by Tissot.— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 6, 2022
The next NBA All-Star fan voting update will be shared Thursday, Jan. 13. pic.twitter.com/B0kSITw4Sr
As a reminder, each voter selects two guards and three frontcourt players. The fan vote accounts for 50 percent of the total vote, along with the player vote and media vote each contributing 25 percent. The coaches then select the All-Star reserves.
Most early media vote projections don’t have the Clippers forward as a starter — Rudy Gobert is instead a popular choice for the remaining frontcourt slot, and it’s going to be hard for George to catch him while he remains injured. He needs a strong showing in the fan vote, but unfortunately, George has two Golden State forwards on his tail, and judging by the high count for Curry, the Warriors fans aren’t messing around.
The Clippers are working hard to get George to Cleveland for the game, seemingly more so than they did the past two seasons with Leonard or George, and stump man Reggie Jackson has his pitch ready to go.
“I’m always campaigning for him to be an All-Star,” Jackson said about his best friend Wednesday. “To be in the position we’re in right now, everything that we’ve had to come through the season, the way that he’s competed, I mean, he’s done it all.”
“I mean, I think it’s a no brainer,” Jackson continued. “If you want to go watch the best players, if you want to see the best action in the game. Yeah, he is the guy to cast your vote for. He’s the guy that you want to see. He’s box office. And I think we all know it, we’re very appreciative of it.... I don’t think the game should overlook what he’s done. Because what he’s done is special, and just for us to, like I said, be floating where we’re at, to sit where we’re at still, with our ups and downs throughout the season, is very much so, a lot of it is on his back and on his shoulders and everything he’s carried for us.”
Whether that’s enough to get George into the All-Star Game for the eighth time is an open question, but he’s off to a good start.