NEW YORK (AFP) - Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James and Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo led the first fan balloting updates announced on Thursday (Jan 3) for next month's NBA All-Star Game.
Los Angeles Lakers star playmaker James received the most votes with 1,083,363 to pace the Western Conference frontcourt while Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo led the Eastern Conference with 991,561 votes in the first fan ballot returns.
Voting continues through Jan 21 with fan ballots counting 50 per cent, current NBA players counting 25 per cent and a media panel counting 25 per cent to determining the 10 starters for the 68th NBA All-Star Game on Feb 17 at Charlotte, North Carolina.
All-Star Game starters and captains will be revealed Jan 24. Reserves will be revealed one week later.
This year's All-Star contest will follow last year's format with two team captains - the All-Stars who lead their conference - each selecting rosters from pools of starters and reserve players regardless of conference affiliation.
James, a 14-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA All-Star Most Valuable Player, was followed in the West front line by Slovenian 19-year-old swingman Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks on 679,839 and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant with 659,968.
Chasing a starting berth were New Orleans star big man Anthony Davis at 605,417 and Oklahoma City's Paul George on 580,055 with New Zealand centre Steven Adams of Oklahoma City next on 261,327.
Three-time NBA champion and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the reigning champion Warriors topped Western Conference guards with 793,111 votes and Minnesota's Derrick Rose joined him in the backcourt with 698,086 votes.
Houston's James Harden, the NBA's top scorer with 33.3 points a game, was chasing a starting spot in third on 541,606 with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook next on 459,792.
Antetokounmpo was followed in East frontcourt starting spot positions by Toronto's Kawhi Leonard on 774,172 and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, a centre from Cameroon, on 648,002.
Embiid's 76ers teammate Jimmy Butler was a distant fourth on 222,206.
Boston's Kyrie Irving topped the East guards with 910,329 votes and Miami's Dwyane Wade was second on 409,156.
Chasing backcourt starting spots were Charlotte's Kemba Walker of 319,519 and Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year from Australia, on 259,993.
James leads Curry by more than 290,000 votes for the West captain's spot while Antetokounmpo has a lead of just over 81,000 votes on Irving for the East captain's spot.