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All-Star season is officially underway and the NBA revealed the first returns from the fan ballots on Thursday. LeBron James received the most votes and Tyrese Haliburton will need the help of the head coaches.

Haliburton, the leader of the Pacers, is having an All-Star season even if fans worldwide haven’t taken notice. He’s currently slotted in eighth among Eastern Conference guards — even behind Trae Young and LaMelo Ball — with 281,113 fan votes.

Value of Votes: The fan vote accounts for 50% of the total vote for starters; votes by the players and media account for 25% each.

Reserve Voting: Is done solely by the head coaches. So first, it’s the popular vote and they will all be household names.

What’s Key: For Haliburton, he’ll need the vote of head coaches. They vote on the reserves. And with the Pacers (21-18) currently in the playoff picture, seventh in the Eastern Conference, he will very likely earn a spot. Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell will likely be the starting backcourt, then Haliburton is a very good candidate for one of the wildcard spots after James Harden and Jaylen Brown, at least, are made the reserve guards.

What They Said:

  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle: “I think the way he’s played has made a strong statement to everyone that’s watched him because he’s the motor, he’s the engine that drives our team. When people look at our team and talk about us being fun to watch, he’s the head of the snake when it comes to that. He sets the initial tone for that in a big way.”
  • Hawks coach Nate McMillan: “He’s having a really outstanding year. Studying the Pacers the last couple of days, he is the guy that is establishing their tempo over there.”
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau: “They play fast and he’s a tough matchup given he can shoot, he’s got great vision and his size is a big plus. He can see over people.”
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone: “Haliburton is a hell of a player.”

Haliburton’s Candidacy: He’s averaging 20.6 points and 10.2 assists per game while making 40.7% of 3-point field goals. He’s No. 1 in the league in assists per game, third in steals (1.8) and has 20 double-doubles in 37 games.

The Pacers have exceeded all expectations and already have 21 wins. He’s everything the organization wanted — and more.

It doesn’t help that the Pacers have played on national TV just once this season.

Where: The 72nd annual NBA All-Star game will be played at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. Remember, Indy will host All-Star weekend NEXT year.

Next: Updates will be provided on the next three Thursdays so the next one will be on Jan. 12. Fan voting is open until midnight ET on Jan. 23.

Results: The starters, plus the two captains — the top vote getter in each conference — will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 26. The reserves will be announced the next week (Feb. 2) on TNT.

Scott Agness is in his 11th season as a beat writer covering the Indiana Pacers. Click here to read more of his work at

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