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NBA MVP 2012 Power Rankings: LeBron And Howard Lead The Way

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 29:  2012 NBA MVP candidates Derrick Rose and Lebron James square off during the Heat's 97-93 victory.
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 29: 2012 NBA MVP candidates Derrick Rose and Lebron James square off during the Heat's 97-93 victory.

With almost a third of the season completed it’s time to take a look at how the 2012 NBA MVP race is shaping up. Two past NBA MVP’s have the top slots in these rankings, but in this condensed season the rankings are more volatile than ever and most of these candidates could easily win the 2012 NBA MVP.

Earlier today, Tom Ziller released his weekly 2012 NBA MVP power rankings, which should hold special interest for fans of the Heat and the Magic. The Miami Heat's Lebron James held onto the top spot in Ziller's rankings, as in our own, while Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic center, fell to sixth. I've ranked Howard even worse due to not only his trouble scoring efficiently from the field and free throw woes, which Ziller mentions, but also due to the Magic's consistent defensive troubles.

Lebron James

Miami Heat 16-5

29.2 ppg, .620 TS%, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists

Lebron’s gotten off to a great start on his long road back to redemption after disappearing in the Finals. It looks like his work in the post has paid off, as he’s been finding the basket with ease. He’s averaging nearly 30 points a game on an astronomically high 62% True Shooting percentage to go along with 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. So far his remarkable season has lead the Heat to 16-5 record even with Dwayne Wade missing eight games. The only real questions are whether Lebron can sustain this performance with Wade back in the line-up, and whether 2012 NBA MVP voters will continue to hold him responsible for leaving Cleveland and choking in the Finals last summer. If not, Lebron could be looking at reclaiming his MVP throne this year.

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls 18-5

23.3 ppg, .565 TS%, 7.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds

Give D-Rose credit for once again improving his game, as he’s become more of a playmaker this season just as he promised. Despite being hobbled with turf toe, a nagging injury that can torpedo the production of speedy guards, Rose is shooting a higher percentage and notching more assists than he did in his NBA MVP season last year. As a result Chicago has more wins than anyone else in the NBA despite a rash of injuries and a dip in production from their starting frontcourt.

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers 13-9

30.0 ppg, .541 TS%, 6.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists

While Kobe Bryant became a common MVP pick during his string of 40 point games early last month, over the past several weeks he’s actually morphed into a more serious NBA MVP contender with a dazzling display of his all-around game. Not only has Kobe been one of the best scoring guards in the league this season, he’s been one of the best passers and rebounders as well. Unfortunately despite playing better recently, the Lakers still haven’t managed to meet their lofty expectations- something MVP voters could hold against him.

Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder 16-4

26.8 ppg, .613 TS%, 7.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Although his scoring is down slightly from previous years, Durant’s jumper is still probably the deadliest in the game. He’s posting a career high 51% field goal percentage, and rebounding better than he ever has. His scoring is undoubtably the most important cog in Oklahoma City’s league leading 16-4 record, but his career high 3.1 turnovers per game have been part of OKC’s turnover plague as well.

Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder 16-4

21.3 ppg, .525 TS%, 5.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 steals

While KD’s shooting prowess is still the main weapon in OKC’s arsenal, Westbrook’s all-around game is the perfect compliment. Westbrook’s been playing better since he was rewarded with that $80 million dollar contract shooting, in his past five games he’s averaged 23.6 points, 3.4 steals, and 6.4 assists. He still turns the ball over too commonly, but his athleticism, skill, and defensive acumen go a long way towards making up for it.

Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves 10-11

25.5 ppg, .582 TS%, 13.5 rebounds

While Rubio’s deservedly gotten a lot of credit for Minnesota’s return to prominence, the T-Wolves wouldn’t be within a hair of .500 without Love’s outstanding shooting and rebounding. Love is one of the league’s best rebounders and 3-point shooters, and the spacing provided by his deep range and second chance points are essential to Minnesota’s rise.

Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic 12-9

20.0 ppg, .544 TS%, 15.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks

If you only look at his rebounding and scoring numbers Howard would be higher in these rankings, but his career high 15.3 rebounds a game are far too often the result of him camping out by the rim rather than walling off the paint and anchoring Orlando’s defense. In addition his 20.0 points per game have come at the lowest efficiency than since his sophomore season. As a result Orlando has fallen apart, losing badly in five of their last six games. In addition his trade demands are likely to hurt him in the eyes of MVP voters.

Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers 12-6

18.1 ppg, .598 TS%, 8.9 assists, 2.5 steals

For the most part Chris Paul’s been as good as advertised in Los Angeles, and his impact in the Clippers’ high-octane offense is almost immeasurable. If Paul can quiet concerns that he might be injury prone and stay healthy for the rest of the season, expect him to rise quickly through these NBA MVP 2012 power rankings.

LaMarcus Aldridge

Posrtland Trailblazers 12-9

22.6 ppg, .545 TS%, 8.8 rebounds

Last year when Brandon Roy went down, Blazers fans crossed their fingers and hoped that LaMarcus Aldridge would step up as a franchise player. This year, bouyed by his successful campaign last season, Portland fans have had a little loftier expectations for their power forward and again Aldridge has surpassed them. In his fifth year in the league Aldridge has cemented his place among the league’s leading scorers and 2012 NBA MVP candidates.

Kyle Lowry

Houston Rockets 12-9

14.6 ppg, 8.0 assists, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals

It’s safe to say that almost no one expected to see Kyle Lowry on this list before the season began, but he’s proven himself to be a triple-double threat nearly every night. The 2011 MIP candidate has improved even more this year, and is currently posting career highs in points, assists, steals, and rebounds this season. He’s still a long-shot to win the NBA MVP, but he’s a lot closer than anyone would’ve predicted when the season began.

Also, be sure to check out Tom Ziller’s 2012 NBA MVP power rankings and let us know who you think should be the 2012 NBA MVP so far in the comments section below.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.