Zach LaVine won't be a 2021 All-Star starter, but fans rooting for him to earn his first career selection have to feel pretty good about his chances of nabbing a reserve spot after voting results were released Thursday night.
LaVine finished fourth among Eastern Conference guards in the overall weighted vote, including fourth in the fan rank (which accounts for 50 percent of the final tally), fifth in media rank (25 percent) and tied for third in player rank (25 percent) with James Harden.
Coaches will now select seven reserves from each conference, who will be announced on Feb. 23.
With career high marks of 28.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists this season on gaudy 52 percent shooting from the field, 43.7 from 3-point range and 84.7 from the free throw line, LaVine is making his best case ever to earn a spot in the game. He's enjoyed an abundance of endorsements throughout the early part of the season. "Let’s get it right this year with Zach LaVine as an AllStar!" Dwyane Wade tweeted on Jan. 28.
"I think for basketball players that means more than anything. I think that's the thing that takes you longer," LaVine said on a recent episode of NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls Talk Podcast of getting recognition from his peers. "Especially if you get snubbed or if you don't have some of those individual accolades and your peers come up and tell you, 'Hey look, you're still that guy' or 'I see you at this level.' You know, that means a lot because that's the company that you're playing with and they hold you to a higher standard."
One would figure that third place finish in the player vote, then, will be a point of pride.
But he'll be relying on a coach selection to take him to the finish line. Whether a first career berth is in the cards or not, you can bet LaVine isn't slowing down.
"Everybody when you put work in, you want the recognition. And I think before you get that it has to come from winning," LaVine said on the podcast, echoing a sentiment he's parroted for years. "Do I think of myself any less if I don't get voted an All-Star? No. Whenever I step on the court, I think I'm the best player on the court, that's just me.
"But over the last couple of years, I don't think there's 12 better players in the conference than me. And I try to let my play do the talking."