Christmas Day in the NBA is not just a day for the league to take over the sports calendar and showcase its best teams and players in a number of prime-time games. It's also the start of voting for the All-Star Game, and now, nearly a month later, the polls are closed, votes have been tallied and we know the 10 starters for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.
Just as a reminder, fan voting accounts for only 50 percent of the final voting tally. Coaches and players also send in votes of their own, and those account for 25 percent each. Also, because the league doesn't do the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format anymore, the teams are picked by captains. The two players with the highest number of fan votes win that honor, and this time around it was Milwaukee Bucks superstar, and reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Now, here are the 10 starters (while the game isn't played in a East vs. West format, the players are still selected via conferences to keep representation equal):
Los Angeles Lakers
The next step to complete the All-Star rosters will be the selection of the reserves. All of those picks are made by coaches, who will choose seven players -- three frontcourt, two guards, two wild cards -- from each conference. Those results will be announced on Jan. 30.
With all of the formalities out of the way, here are a few takeaways from the voting results
Every single year, there happens to be at least one serious debate about a player getting snubbed of a starting spot. This time around, the "controversy" has centered around Jimmy Butler. The veteran forward took his talents to South Beach this summer, and has helped turn the Heat into a legitimate threat to the power structure in the Eastern Conference. Everyone expected them to be a playoff team once they got him, but no one could have predicted they'd be in second place at this point in the season.
Though he's seemingly forgotten how to shoot -- 44 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from 3 -- Butler has been the engine behind the team's success. He's putting up 20.3 points, seven rebounds and 6.5 assists while often operating as their de-facto point guard. Throw in impressive work on the defensive end, and the case for him to start the game is clear.
There was never a doubt that Giannis was going to start, and Embiid seemed like a lock as well, but the third frontcourt spot was in question. In the end, Siakam got the nod, continuing his upward trend from energy guy off the bench to All-Star starter. And certainly the case is there for the Raptors star. He's putting up 23.5 points and 7.7 rebounds for the third-place team in the East, while playing strong defense of his own. But he's missed 11 games, and has cooled off considerably since his strong start, which opened the door for Butler to get a starting nod.
Butler will still obviously make the team, and no one remembers whether you started or not when they're counting All-Star appearances at the end of your career, so this really isn't that big of an issue. But for a player like Butler, you can bet he'll use it as motivation for the rest of the season.
No surprises in the West
While we know what the fans are thinking because of the frequent voting returns the league makes public along the way, we have no idea who the coaches or players are voting for until the starters are revealed. That can result in some surprises, as we saw in the East. In the West, well, not so much. Really since about the first month of the season, these five players have stood out among the rest.
LeBron James looks rejuvenated with these new-look Lakers, while his teammate, Anthony Davis, has been playing at a near-MVP level himself. And Kawhi Leonard, of course, has been dynamite when healthy for the Clippers. James Harden has cooled off over the past week or so, but is still averaging nearly 40 points per game, while Luka Doncic is putting up absurd triple-doubles on a seemingly nightly basis.
These five were the top-five vote getters across the board, from fans, to players to media. In fact, the media just straight up didn't vote for anyone besides Doncic, Harden and Damian Lillard, who grabbed a few votes, but nowhere near enough to make the starters.
Another marker of LeBron's dominance
There are all sorts of directions you can go in when trying to quantify just how incredible LeBron James' career has been, but since it's All-Star time, let's go that way. This is the third straight year that LeBron has been named an All-Star captain, meaning he's held the position every time since the league started the new format. With 6,275,459 fan votes, he recorded the most votes of any player -- an incredible statement that nearly 20 years into his career, he's still the most popular player in the league.
What else, what else? Well, let's see. This will be LeBron's 16th All-Star Game appearance, which moves him into third-place all time, behind only Kobe Bryant (18) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19). Starting in 2005, when he made his first appearance, he hasn't missed an All-Star Game since. He's also started every single one of those games, and his 16 starts are an NBA record. Furthermore, his 16 All-Star Games are more than all of the Eastern Conference starters combined. Together, they have just 13 trips to All-Star Weekend.
I could keep going -- he's led the league in fan voting seven times in his career -- but you get the point. LeBron is a marvel, and we'll never see anyone like him again.