December 25, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

NBA MVP Ladder: Ranking the Top Contenders

We are a little over a quarter of the way through the season, so it is time to start talking NBA MVP as the usual suspects have separated themselves from the rest of the league in terms of performance.

It’s time to take a look at the leading contenders for the NNBA’s highest honor in my weekly MVP ladder.

First let’s look at those who just missed the cut.

January 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts after scoring a three point basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mentions: David Lee, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Stephen Curry

Now for the Top 5.

5. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe is having another fantastic season, leading the NBA in scoring at 30.5 points per game. He is also pulling down 5.2 rebounds and dishing out 4.7 assists per night. Even more impressive is the fact that Kobe is shooting a career-high 48.3 percent from the floor. He only clocks in at No. 5 though because his Lakers are only 15-17 on the season.

4. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Anthony certainly has been MVP-like all season long- when he has been healthy. Despite being second in the NBA in scoring at 28.9 points per game and pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game, Anthony drops a couple of spots mostly based on the fact that he has missed six games on the season due to injury and in turn the Knicks are 5-5 during their past 10 games. However the Knicks are 22-10 on the season and a legitimate contender based on the play of Anthony. He will be in contention for the MVP all season if he keeps this up.

3. LeBron James, Miami Heat

The reigning MVP is at it again. LeBron has been scorching hot as of late, but only clocks in at No. 3 thanks to Miami losing two road games this week to the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and a home loss to the Chicago Bulls. However James is averaging career highs in field-goal percentage (54.5) and three-point percentage (40.4), and he ranks fourth in the league in scoring with 26.6 points per game. James leads the league with a PER of 30.25. With the Heat in contention for a second consecutive championship, LBJ will be in contention for a second straight MVP.

2. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Jan 4, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; OKlahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers guard Dorell Wright (4) during the second half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It was hard not to put CP3 at the top spot, especially after leading the Clippers to a 17-game win streak, but he sits at No. 2 for now. His numbers aren’t the greatest but that is due in part to only playing 32.9 minutes per game as of late. But they certainly aren’t bad numbers as Paul has averaged 16.7 points, 9.3 assists and a league-high 2.7 steals. His 25.9 PER is outstanding and according to, he has held opposing point guards to a PER of only 11. No player has had the impact on his team that CP3 has.

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Durant gets the top spot after averaging 28.3 PPG (third in NBA). But here are the three most impressive things about his potential claim to the MVP. First, Durant has a 7.1 win shares according to Basketball-Reference. No player in the NBA can top that. Next, are the outstanding shooting percentages. He is shooting 51.3 percent from the field, 42.5 percent from three-point range and 90.5 percent from the free-throw line, all career highs. No other player in the NBA can boast a line of 50-40-90. Finally there is the fact that he has led the Thunder to a league-best 25-7 on the season. Add up Durant’s resume right now and there is nothing about it that doesn’t scream out MVP.

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