The first round of fan voting returns for the 2022 NBA All-Star game in Cleveland have been released, and not one, but two Charlotte Hornets made the cut. LaMelo Ball is fifth among guards in the Eastern Conference and Miles Bridges is eighth among East frontcourt players, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania:
Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Nets’ Kevin Durant lead the NBA’s first All-Star fan voting returns: pic.twitter.com/3812PFdcGb— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 6, 2022
Let’s start at the top; no surprises, as Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo have been the three best frontcourt players in the East this season and James Harden and Trae Young have been the best guards. I must say, it is wildly confusing that DeMar DeRozan is listed as a guard — he’s played 76 percent of his minutes at power forward with Chicago and exactly zero percent at either guard spot. He hasn’t played two-guard since his first year in San Antonio. The NBA’s official listings are so weird sometimes.
Anyway, just below those three is where Ball can establish himself; Zach LaVine has been excellent this season and it’s unlikely Ball supplants him, but if he can maintain a hold on the fifth spot among voters by continuing to produce, it will a.) look good on paper and b.) possibly bode well when coaches pick the reserves. It helps that he’s got some counting stats going in his favor — he’s one of 10 players in the NBA with multiple triple-doubles this season, his 7.8 assists per game ranks eighth and he’s tied for sixth in total steals with 57.
Bridges making the top-10 in the first round of fan voting is pleasantly surprising to me. He certainly deserves it, but we as Charlotte fans know all too well it can take a bit longer for our team’s players to garner mainstream recognition. Bridges has seen his efficiency dip (31.8 percent from deep this season is a career-low), but in turn he’s taken leaps forward as a defender, playmaker and shot-creator. Whether or not he’s officially named an All-Star, I don’t know, but Bridges is absolutely playing like an All-Star.
NBA All-Star votes can be cast a few ways; the quickest is via Twitter (ex: #MilesBridges #NBAAllStar), and those votes can counted up to 10 times per day. NBA.com/vote and the NBA app will allow one ballot to be submitted each day. Voting closes at midnight on Jan. 22 and the All-Star game is on Feb. 20. It’s coming up, so get your votes in!