Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan is heading to the NBA All-Star Game — this time as a starter.
He is the fourth Raptors player to be named a starter after Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry. In 2001 Antonio Davis also represented the Raptors as a starter, but as an injury replacement for Theo Ratliff.
It will be DeRozan’s third appearance in the game (2014, 2016).
DeRozan beat out Boston’s Isaiah Thomas Thursday in the new voting system that included players and media for the first time this season. The rest of the East lineup for the Feb. 19 game in New Orleans is Kyrie Irving of Cleveland, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee, and Jimmy Butler of Chicago.
Stephen Curry won another tiebreaker to join Golden State teammate Kevin Durant in the Western Conference team’s starting lineup. Curry and Houston’s James Harden beat out Russell Westbrook for the two backcourt spots. They will join frontcourt choices Durant, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio.
Fan voting accounted for 50 per cent in the new system, while current players and a media panel each made up 25 per cent.
DeRozan, who is averaging career highs in points (28.2), rebounds (5.4) and steals (1.24) through 42 games, ranks second in the Eastern Conference and fifth in the NBA in scoring.
DeRozan edged Thomas by about 41,000 votes among fans, which gave him the tiebreaker to join Irving, the MVP of the 2014 All-Star Game, which was also in New Orleans.
James is the leading scorer in All-Star Game history and is set to become just the fifth player to start at least 13 games. He said it meant something extra being the leading vote-getter among fans with nearly 1.9 million votes.
“I think from the standpoint of people enjoy the way I play the game, they respect the way I play the game and at this point in my career I’m still doing something right,” he said earlier Thursday. “Makes me proud, makes my family proud and my support system so it’s cool in that sense.”
He and Durant had the highest possible scores across all three voting groups, but the new process eliminated Chicago’s Dwyane Wade, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia, who would have been elected by fans under the old format.
But they didn’t rank high enough to hold onto spots when player and media votes were counted, though Curry did.
Fan voting served as the tiebreaker, and the two-time MVP’s 1.8 million votes trailed only James. So even though he ranked third behind MVP candidates Harden and Westbrook in the other categories and ended up with the same weighted score as them, he got one spot and Harden the other after earning nearly 200,000 more fan votes than his former teammate.
Perennial East starters such as Wade and Carmelo Anthony missed out, leaving James surrounded by four players voted as starters for the first time. Antetokounmpo became Milwaukee’s first All-Star since Michael Redd in 2003-04.
The reserves will be announced next Thursday after voting by head coaches in each conference.