The first returns for fan voting for the 2023-24 NBA All-Star Game are in. There aren't too many surprises as the usual suspects like Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Kevin Durant lead the way in total votes. One of the biggest surprises, however, is the amount of votes Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards received.
With 178,563 votes, Kyle Kuzma is the ninth-most popular frontcourt player in the Eastern Conference. He ranks 16th among all the players in the East. He received more votes than a superstar like Devin Booker, former All-Stars like Demar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle, and Karl-Anthony Towns, and a future star like Paolo Banchero.
Kuzma's popularity among NBA fans is surprising and impressive. He has been out of the public eye since being traded away from the Los Angeles Lakers three years ago. He hasn't made the playoffs or played meaningful basketball in a while. The Washington Wizards are 6-27 and only had one nationally televised game all season. Yet, he remains a vastly popular figure.
Every single player above Kuzma in the East Frontcourt either plays for a contender or a huge market. Kuzma is the only player in the top 10 who plays for a non-postseason team. This speaks volumes to how well-liked Kuzma is.
As well as Kuzma has been playing this season, it's hard to argue that he deserves to be in All-Star consideration. He has been a great team leader, he is scoring well and has improved his playmaking. But, he has certainly not been the 16th-best player in the Eastern Conference. Players like Scottie Barnes, Julius Randle, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Brook Lopez who are behind Kuzma probably deserve more of an All-Star consideration among frontcourt players.
This makes Kuzma, along with Klay Thompson and Austin Reaves, the player with the biggest discrepancy in their performance versus their popular vote. This is not a bad thing. The Washington Wizards need all the popularity and national attention they can get. If it is through Kuzma and his persona, so be it.