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James, Durant lead early in NBA All-Star starter voting

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NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets is likely to be headed toward yet one more NBA All-Star Game rematch.

James is the overall leader up to now in All-Star balloting, and Durant leads all Eastern Conference players in early voting returns — putting them on target to be All-Star captains for the third consecutive 12 months.

James had 3,168,694 votes entering Thursday, topping the list of Western Conference frontcourt players. Denver’s Nikola Jokic is second (2,237,768) and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis is third (2,063,325).

Durant leads Eastern Conference frontcourt players with 3,118,545 votes. That’s just ahead of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (2,998,327) and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (2,226,712).

Golden State’s Stephen Curry leads all guards within the balloting with 2,715,520 votes. Dallas’ Luka Doncic has the No. 2 spot amongst West guards with 2,388,502 votes.

Amongst East guards, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving leads with 2,071,715 votes, and Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell is second with 1,637,374.

The highest three frontcourt players and top two guards in each conference shall be chosen as starters, with the leading overall vote-getters from each conference serving as captains and selecting their teams.

Fan voting counts for 50% of the starters balloting, a media ballot counts for 25% and the ballots turned in by NBA players count for the opposite 25%.

James has been a captain in all five previous uses of that process, going 5-0 in All-Star Games. His team beat a Durant-picked team in 2020 and 2021, beat teams picked by Antetokounmpo in 2018 and 2019, and beat a team picked by Curry in 2017.

Voting continues through Jan. 21. The captains and the starters shall be announced Jan. 26. Reserves — chosen by NBA coaches — shall be revealed Feb. 2, and the sport is Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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