The NBA has released the results of the first round of 2016 All-Star voting, and Los Angeles Lakers small forward Kobe Bryant is the leading vote-getter so far. Bryant (who is averaging 17.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 34.4% shooting in the 2015-16 season) leads all players with 719,235 votes. For context, that gives Bryant a sizable lead on the next closest player, reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who has 510,202 votes, and a 209,033 vote difference.
NBA fans vote to determine the All-Star starters for each conference, selecting three "frontcourt" players and two "guards" players. Bryant, who has started all of his games this season for the Lakers at small forward, is considered a frontcourt player for voting purposes for the first time in his 19 year career. The next three closest frontcourt players in the Western Conference are Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder (349,473 votes), the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin (182,107), and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs(164,521), so Bryant is unlikely to be overtaken with such a sizable lead and will in all likelihood start his 18th All-Star game in his 20th and final season. No other Lakers are among the leading vote-getters. Here is the full voting breakdown, courtesy of the NBA:
The image from the Lakers' Instagram congratulating Bryant is pretty cool too:
Bryant has not been one of the best frontcourt players in the Western Conference this season, but he has played better of late, averaging 23.8 points on 46.2% shooting, 4.6 assists, and 4.4 rebounds over his last five games. The All-Star game is for the fans to decide who they want to see, and they have responded emphatically that they want to see Kobe represent the West one final time before he hangs up his sneakers for good.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com