A good benchmark for the most popular player in the NBA is shown through the league-leader in All-Star votes. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been the leading vote-getter two of the last three season, with Kobe Bryant edging him during his last season in the 2016 contest. Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard are other stars who have shared the title in past seasons. This season, however, doesn’t have James as the top vote-getter in the first returns. It’s not Curry or someone who plays in a big market like New York, L.A., or Miami. This year’s leading vote-getter so far plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and his name is Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He’s currently only trailing Houston Rockets star guard/forward James Harden in the league for scoring right now, averaging 29.1 points per game to go along with 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.6 steals a night. Antetokounmpo has dazzled fans during his rise to popularity with long strides to the basket for thunderous jams reminiscent of Julius Erving. Last year, Antetokounmpo was voted to his first All Star Game by the fans at just age 22 and now he’s even better.

The Bucks forward also has the support of the Greek population, as he’s the best active player from the country right now, similar to the year’s when Hall of Fame center Yao Ming dominated votes annually with the help of his home country of China. Having “The Greek Freak” lead the league in voting shows how diverse the NBA’s star population is. From James and Curry to Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins, the league is certainly not running low on firepower.

Away from the court, Antetokounmpo has a squeaky-clean image. He pushes the importance of family above everything else on his social media and he isn’t associated with any dirty play or trash talk while on the court. Although he’s a huge star already in the world of basketball, he might just be the next basketball athlete to breakthrough onto Hollywood’s A-List. On the floor, he could very well be the cornerstone to the next era of NBA championships.

Rashad Milligan

Rashad Milligan is a news reporter at the Douglas County Sentinel. He was once the sports editor for Georgia State's student newspaper, The Signal.