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NBA MVP 2012 Power Rankings: Lebron James Holds Onto Number One Spot

Lebron James of the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic hold onto their spots in our 2012 NBA MVP Power Rankings, while Paul Pierce works his way onto our list and "Linsanity" bursts onto the scene.

Miami Heat F Lebron James #6 and Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard #12 celebrate being named to this week's edition of the NBA 2012 MVP Power Rankings.
Miami Heat F Lebron James #6 and Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard #12 celebrate being named to this week's edition of the NBA 2012 MVP Power Rankings.

It’s time for another round of the 2012 NBA MVP Power Rankings! Tom Ziller released his 2012 NBA MVPrankings yesterday and it looks like the trophy has a good shot of finding a home in Florida. Ziller once again has Lebron James of the Miami Heat ranked first, while the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard is still locked in at sixth despite rampant trade rumors.

But Heat fans shouldn't start counting their MVP trophies just yet. Our NBA 2012 MVP power rankings are volatile, especially due to the truncated season. The wear and tear of the season might be getting to Kyle Lowry, who has had seen significant decreases in his points per game and assists per game averages and turned the ball over six times in Portland last night before leaving the game with a strained elbow. Meanwhile, LaMarcus Aldridge has continued to show the same remarkable consistency that earned him a berth in these rankings last week, but simply was outshone by Paul Pierce, who’s slowly worked his way into game shape after a heel injury, and D’Antoni’s latest point guard sensation Jeremy Lin.

Lebron James

Miami Heat 19-7

28.5 ppg, .617 TS%, 8.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists

Lebron’s stranglehold on the top spot of in the NBA MVP 2012 Power Rankings has started to loosen over the past week due a slight dip in his points per game, shooting percentage, and assists since Dwayne Wade came back from his injury and the lashing he took from the media and Kendrick Perkins over his tweet after the Blake Griffin dunk. But make no mistake- Lebron James is still having one of the best seasons in his career and possibly modern basketball history.

Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder 20-5

27.3 ppg, .595 TS%, 8.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists

Kevin Durant has offset a slight dip in his true shooting percentage with increases across the board as far as how many points, rebounds, and assists he’s notching each game. But more importantly, Durant seems to have finally figured out how to get himself open at the end of games, going four for six on game-winning shots this season only making four over the past two years combined.

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers 14-11

29.3 ppg, .536 TS%, 5.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists

Even though Kobe’s numbers are slightly down from last week and he’s still further removed from his searing streak of 40 point games, I had to give him the bump over Derrick Rose this week because of Rose’s health concerns, the likelihood of MVP voters looking past the Laker’s disappointing record if Bryant takes home his first scoring title since 2007, and the surprisingly high number of readers who chose him at the 2012 NBA MVP favorite in my last poll.

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls 22-6

22.0 ppg, .560 TS%, 7.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds

Give Derrick Rose credit for toughness. While he’s certainly not the only player to fight through injuries this season (see Kobe Bryant) he’s currently playing not only through a painful case of turf toe, but also back spasms after injuring his back Thursday against the Bucks. Although Rose has kept playing the injury has clearly hindered him, as he’s notched only 10 points and 6 assists in a little over 30 minutes of playing time in his last two games combined.

Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers 15-8

18.4 ppg, .592 TS%, 9.1 assists, 2.4 steals

As Tom Ziller notes in his 2012 NBA MVP Power Rankings Chris Paul has undoubtably been one of the most valuable players in the league this year despite scoring under 20 points per game. But with the news that Chauncey Billups is likely out for the reason of the season after his injury against the Magic on Monday, Paul might be required to show off a little more of his scoring prowess. Luckily for Clippers‘ fans CP3 is averaging a career best shooting percentage both from the field (.515) and from beyond the arc (.490)

Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic 16-10

21.0 ppg, .564 TS%, 15.4 rebounds, 2.2 blocks

Dwight Howard’s quietly helped the Magic right the ship after a rough stretch at the end of January by averaging a monster 25.4 points and 16.0 rebounds in February after his sixth 20 point, 20 rebound game of the season last night against the Heat. But it’s still tough to place Howard higher in the 2012 NBA MVP rankings when there’s still so much speculation over what team he might end up being the most valuable player for.

Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder 20-5

22.3 ppg, .532 TS%, 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals

Although Oklahoma City is widely regarded as having one of the deepest teams in the league they’ve been riding their two stars, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, pretty hard lately as both played over 40 minutes in games against the Warriors, the Trailblazers, and the Grizzlies in the last week alone. Make no mistake, Westbrook’s scoring and all around contributions have been a huge part of the Thunder’s league-best record.

Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves 13-13

25.0 ppg, .578 TS%, 13.6 rebounds

Kevin Love didn’t drop to eighth in these rankings because his play declined- his shot from downtown have been as deadly as ever and he’s still muscling his way into great position down low for rebounds and tip-ins. But it’s much more unlikely that Love will win the 2012 NBA MVP when voters might still be able the imprint his foot left on Luis Scola’s face Saturday night.

Paul Pierce

Boston Celtics 14-10

18.4 ppg, .561 TS%, 5.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds

Pierce, who’s finally looking like he’s fully recovered from the heel injury that plagued him at the beginning of the season, has averaged 22.6 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.6 rebounds over the Celtics‘ last ten games. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then, that the Celtics have won nine of their last ten and are sneaking up the Eastern Conference standings after a dismal start. But "The Truth" really cemented his position in the rankings by scoring 15 points in Tuesday win over the Bobcats to surge past Larry Bird and become the second highest scorer in the Celtics‘ storied history.

Jeremy Lin

New York Knicks 11-15

9.0 ppg, .613 TS%, 3.5 assists, 1.8 rebounds

It looks strange to see someone with averages as low as Lin’s on an under .500 team get consideration for the 2012 NBA MVP and it seems likely that this may be the only time we see Jeremy Lin’s name here as his fantastic numbers from this past week are likely to drop once a team other than the hapless Wizards have time to game plan for him. But after finally seeing some playing time Saturday against the Nets, Lin has posted an average of 25.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 3.8 rebounds to lead the Knicks to three straight wins. And it’s worth mentioning that Lin’s playing in the same D’Antonio system that brought Steve Nash two MVP titles. If Lin can keep up this level of play it will be awfully hard for MVP voters to overlook the undrafted, Harvard educated, Asian-American sensation who breathed new life into Madison Square Garden and reinvigorated the star-studded Knicks.

As always, be sure to check out who Tom Ziller has pegged as the top contenders for the NBA 2012 MVP and let us know who you think will win the award.

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