The first tally for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game is in, and the Top 20 players from each conference are your usual suspects.
Even though the NBA tweaked the format for the exhibition match this year, fans were still able to flex their influence. In the initial returns of the ASG voting, some names were unmistakably out of place. Did someone pull off another Zaza Pachulia?
Meet this year's Zaza. While he isn't Kristaps Porzingis, Kanter is putting up nightly double-doubles (13.4 ppg 10 rpg) for the not-so-bad New York Knicks (18-20), highlighted by a 31-22 Christmas outing. Or maybe, the buzz has something to do with the Turkish center being regarded as an "enemy of the state" in his homeland. It would've been less shocking if it was Michael Beasley we were talking about.
The Greek Freak over the King
Giannis Antetokounmpo is bound to surpass LeBron James as the league fan-favorite, just not this early. He may be miles away from becoming the better player, but that doesn't mean the Greek Freak can't be more exciting. This might be the first time in LeBron's All-Star career that he won't be the top vote-getting small forward. As one fan pointed out: "Imagine if people could correctly spell Giannis' name. He'd have a million votes."
Manu Ginobili (no, this isn't 2005)
Dwyane Wade, at 35, with the sixth-most votes among East guards is already hard to believe, but the second-oldest active NBA player having 66,297 more in the wild, wild West? Simply ridiculous. The 40-year-old guard got more love than frontcourt teammates Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, and perennial All-Stars Chris Paul and Damian Lillard. You can't blame those who voted for him, though:
Seeing the names of Ben Simmons, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Jayson Tatum in there just goes to show how stacked last year's 2017 draft class is. Given that the Rookie of the Year frontrunner isn't essentially a newcomer, the fact that the 27th overall selection has more votes than the second and third picks is still remarkable. Even Donovan Mitchell and Lauri Markkanen can make a case for an All-Star spot.
What seemed like a laughable campaign at first is turning out to be a legitimate candidacy, with the way the fourth-year, third-string guard is playing. Filling in for the injured Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie has started and starred at point for the Brooklyn Nets—just ask the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team he burned with a career-high 26 points and the game-winner. The problem is his team sucks.