Who are the most popular NBA All-Stars?
Which 2023 NBA All-Stars are talked about most? Which are most loved? We analysed social media data to find out.
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The NBA All-Star Game offers fans a rare opportunity to decide, or at least have a say in, which players they want to see on the court.
While the NBA moved away from a pure fan vote in 2017, fan opinion still makes up 50 per cent of the total All-Star vote.
This means that the 10 players selected to start for the All-Star team are among the most popular players in the NBA each season.
But, as we head towards the 2023 All-Star Game, which current All-Stars are most popular among fans around the league?
To find out, we used social media listening tool Linkfluence to collate fan opinion.
Which All-Stars are talked about most?
The first question we wanted to answer was simply: which 2023 NBA All-Stars are talked about most on social media?
Social media has given sports fans the opportunity to connect with others on their favourite teams and players like never before, and All-Stars are usually some of the most discussed players over the course of the season.
Debate around All-Star candidates and selection heats up in the run-in to the game, so we focused our attention on volume of posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram since 1 January 2023.
Here are the results:
Unsurprisingly, it’s LeBron James who comes out on top, with more than 264,000 social media posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram since the turn of the year.
The Los Angeles Lakers forward, who became the NBA’s all-time scoring leader on February 7, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was the most voted-for All-Star this season with 7.4m votes.
Under the current All-Star format, which sees the player from each conference who received the most votes nominated as team captain, he will select Team James from the pool of starters.
Second on the list is James’s former teammate Kyrie Irving, who has been mentioned more than 187,000 times on social media since January 1.
Irving was selected as an All-Star while with the Brooklyn Nets but has since moved to the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster trade, which goes some way towards explaining the volume of conversation about him.
Kevin Durant, who was also selected as a Nets player but has since been traded to the Phoenix Suns, is third on the list with 127,998 social media mentions.
Durant will unfortunately not feature in the All-Star Game due to injury, but should be back well in time for the NBA Playoffs, and received the third-most fan votes this year with 6.5m.
Next up is Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, with 108,926 social mentions. ‘The Greek Freak’ received the most votes in the Eastern Conference with 6.7m, and will captain Team Giannis against Team James.
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was the fifth most talked-about player on social platforms with 79,538 posts.
He is followed by Luka Doncic (49,260), Donovan Mitchell (35,504), Jayson Tatum (34,759), Nikola Jokic (26,915) and Zion Williamson (19,137).
Which NBA All-Stars are most popular?
So, we know which All-Stars are being talked about most, but what is being said about them?
Using Linkfluence’s social listening tool, we are able to break down conversations about each player by sentiment, showing the percentage of posts which are positive, negative, and neutral.
Using this information, we can tell which All-Stars are most loved among fans across social media.
Here are the results:
Again, there is a clear No. 1 here, with James receiving by far the most positive sentiment on social media, with 21.96 per cent of posts about him being positive.
The fact that James only just became the highest-scoring player in the history of the NBA probably goes some way to explaining the five per cent gap between him and the rest of the All-Star starters.
Such a feat does not come round very often, and even fans who have critiqued LeBron for his whole career will have been forced to admire his greatness in the last few weeks.
Another all-time great in Curry is second on the list, with 16.36 per cent positive sentiment on social media.
Curry is coming off a fourth championship-winning season with the Warriors and received the second-most fan votes in the Western Conference with 5.8m.
Golden State are struggling a bit this year but remain in playoff contention in the West at 28-28, with Curry averaging 29.4 points per game.
In third comes Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic with 16.20 per cent positive sentiment.
The two-time defending MVP generated the second-least amount of conversation on social media, but what he did generate was generally positive.
Not far behind him at 16.20 per cent is Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mitchell, who continues to underline his status as a real superstar.
This is Mitchell’s first season in Cleveland after five seasons in Utah, and his fourth consecutive All-Star selection.
Fifth on the list is Antetokounmpo, with 15.85 per cent positive sentiment.
The two-time MVP is one of the biggest names in the NBA and has earned his seventh consecutive selection as an All-Star.
Rounding off the list are Irving (15.09%), Durant (14.79%), Tatum (14.47%), Doncic (14.46%) and Williamson (9.22%).
There are many things we can take away from this social media data, but there is one conclusion which far outshines everything else: LeBron James remains the undisputed king of the NBA.
In his 20th season in the league, James is still the player who is talked about most, and the player who attracts most admiration from fans.
He will have to make way for the younger generation at some point, but for now, King James holds the throne.