Isaiah Thomas fills out his All-Star ballot; it looks like he has a decent shot at being named a starter
Tomorrow is the big day. The NBA All-Star starting lineups will be announced on TNT at 7pm, prior to a matchup of the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards that tips off at 8pm EST. Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas is a shoe-in to make the Eastern Conference All-Star squad for the 2nd straight season, but a starting nod would be an achievement that Isaiah would truly relish. Since the first returns of fan voting came back in early January, Thomas has been trailing Kyrie Irving, Dwyane Wade, and DeMar DeRozan - in that order.
Since that point Isaiah has continued to play at a very high level, and has received a groundswell of support from athletes and celebrities from all over, trying to help push him into that starting-lineup. Their efforts have been not been lost on Thomas, who's very happy to be in the conversation. Via Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe:
“I’ve always dreamed of being in this position,” Thomas said, “but it doesn’t seem real when you’ve got the Patriots, you’ve got Gronk tweeting you, you’ve got [Seahawks cornerback] Richard Sherman, all these top athletes taking notice of what you’re doing. It says a lot, and things are starting to pay off.”
The fan voting ended on Monday night, and the final results won't be revealed before starters are announced; however, for the first time ever the NBA has decided that they would let the players and media members have some input in the voting process. This year the fans make up 50 percent of the vote, and the media and players will make up the other 50 percent. This should work in Isaiah's favor, as it's likely that his stellar play will land him higher among those two groups. Thomas himself revealed his recently filled out ballot via the Boston Globe:
East: G Isaiah Thomas, G Avery Bradley, F Al Horford, F Jae Crowder, C Amir Johnson
West: G Russell Westbrook (Thunder), G James Harden (Rockets), F Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), F Kevin Durant (Warriors), F DeMarcus Cousins (Kings).
I would imagine a lot of NBA players voted for all of their teams starters, but if the players voted seriously for the other conference - as it seems Isaiah did - this should definitely help balance the voting process.
Now in Isaiah's case, the early returns on media voting look to help his cause for sure. The Boston Globe did a straw poll, getting the votes from 25 of 100 eligible media members, and Isaiah ranked 1st among guards in the Eastern Conference with 17 votes, and DeRozan finished just behind him with 14. If Thomas did finish first among all of the media members, then that added with the player vote could certainly be enough to put him into the starting lineup. Wade didn't receive any votes from the media members polled by the Globe, and Irving finished 5th with just 4 votes. Should those two finish as low among the player voting as well, there's a good chance Thomas and DeRozan can both find themselves in the starting lineup.
Thomas admits that the player vote could ultimately be a big factor to getting him into the starting lineup:
“I think that can help,” Thomas said. “I just show love to people who show love to me. There’s always a respect factor. You respect really good players and respect people who respect you, and it goes from there.”
It's easy to see why the NBA decided to take away some of the fan influence in the voting process away, and give to to the players and media members, when you've got Wade and Zaza Pachulia of the Warriors among the leaders of fan voting returns. Hopefully this new system does a better job of putting the right guys in New Orleans this year, or the fans might have even less influence next year.
Photo Credit - CSNNE.com
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