Miami Heat

Could appearance in NBA All-Star Game be part of Dwyane Wade’s final season?

Could a spot in the NBA All-Star Game be part of Dwyane Wade’s 16th and final NBA season?

If it was only up to the fans, it looks like the answer would be yes. Wade stands second among Eastern Conference guards in the first fan returns of All-Star balloting results released Thursday by the NBA.

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Boston’s Kyrie Irving (910,329) is currently the only East guard with more votes than Wade (409,156), who is ahead of other top candidates such as Charlotte’s Kemba Walker (319,519), Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (259,993) and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (198,009).

Wade is the only Heat player among the top 10 in the voting among guards or frontcourt players.

Fan voting is only part of the selection process, though. Fan balloting accounts for 50 percent of the vote to determine the All-Star Game’s 10 starters, with players and a media panel each accounting for 25 percent of the vote.

Every voter submits a ballot with two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference to determine the starters.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks broke down what that voting system could mean for Wade, noting: “Example for a player like Dwyane Wade: Finishes 2 in fan voting, 10 with player voting and 6 in media, his ranking would be 5.0.”

In other words, Wade will also need to finish among the top vote-getters on the players’ and media’s ballots to have a real chance to start in this year’s All-Star Game.

If not, Wade, 36, could make it as a reserve. The coaches determine the seven reserves from each conference.

Wade, who is averaging 14.1 points on 41.2 percent shooting off the Heat’s bench this season, last appeared in the All-Star Game in 2016. He is a 12-time All-Star, and has been voted in as a starter 10 times.

The 2019 All-Star Game will take place at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 17. It will follow last year’s format: The two team captains will draft rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference, making their picks regardless of conference affiliation. The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference.

Voting from fans, players and media will conclude on Jan. 21 at 11:59 p.m.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.