NBA MVP Power Rankings: Who are the early frontrunners a month into the season?

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

We’re about a month into the 2012-13 NBA season and it’s time to start looking at who the potential MVP candidates are.

Last year, we saw LeBron James take home his third MVP in four years as the Miami Heat went on to win the NBA title behind a career year from LeBron.

Kevin Durant finished second in the voting last season while players like Chris Paul and Tony Parker made strong cases as the league’ most valuable player as well.

Here’s a look at MVP Power Rankings a month into the season:

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

LeBron and the Heat are off to another strong start this season and should cruise to the one seed in the Eastern Conference when it’s all said and done. LeBron’s numbers are just as good as they were a season ago. He’s averaging 25.2 points, 6.5 assists and a career-high 8.9 rebounds per game. He’s still shooting 53.1 percent from the field and a career-best 43.9 percent from beyond the arc. He leads the league in PER and it will take a monster effort from anyone else to dethrone him as the MVP.

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Many believe the MVP will be a two-man race this year between LeBron and Durant. Durant is also off to a great start this season leading the Thunder to a 10-4 record so far. He has a career-best PER of 27.02 so far this year and is averaging career-highs in rebounds (9.4) and assists (4.5) per game. His 26.5 points per game again puts him in the hunt for another scoring title which would be his fourth straight. But it’s his commitment to becoming a better all-around player this year that may nudge him closer to LeBron in the MVP race.

3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

There has been a lot of drama in L.A. so far this season with coaching changes and under the radar has been the season Kobe is putting together. Kobe is leading the league in scoring at 26.9 points per game and shooting career-highs 51.0 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. He has been the brightest spot for the Lakers so far this season and if he keeps this up while the Lakers start winning more, he may challenge LeBron and Durant for the MVP hardware.

4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

As usual, Duncan and the Spurs are flying under the radar this year. The Spurs have the second best record in the league so far this year and Duncan is second in the league in PER behind only LeBron. He’s averaging 19.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in only 31.4 minutes per game. He’s shooting 51.7 percent from the field and blocking 2.4 shots per game. Duncan may not be able to keep up these numbers all season but what he’s doing shouldn’t go as unnoticed as it is.

5. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

The Knicks have the second-best record in the East and Carmelo Anthony is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s much more efficient than he was a season ago and is averaging 25.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 47.0 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from downtown. The Knicks look for real this year and if so, Anthony is an MVP candidate.

6. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Rondo was the favorite sleeper pick for MVP this season. He has been great to start the year but the Celtics’ record isn’t quite good enough to put him ahead of some other guys just yet. Rondo is on an assist tear this year leading the league averaging 13.7 per game to go with 13.5 points per game. He’s shooting a career-high 51.7 percent from the field and has a career-high 21.04 PER so far this year.

7. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Paul’s numbers are slightly down from a season ago but the Clippers are better. They’ve looked like one of the best teams in the league so far beating the Heat once and Spurs twice. Paul is averaging 15.8 points and 9.6 assists per game. He’d either have to improve those numbers a good deal or the Clippers would have to finish with the one seed in the West for him to have a legit shot at winning the MVP.

8. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

Love has just recently returned from injury and has played only three games so far this season. But he’s already averaging 24.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per game while the Timberwolves look like a team that could make the playoffs once they get healthy. If they do and Love keeps putting up these numbers, he will be right up there with LeBron, Durant and Kobe at the end of the year.

9. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Lowry is off to a career-year with his new team this season. He’s posting a career-high 24.67 PER which is good for 9th in the NBA. He’s averaging 18.3 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. Toronto is only 3-11 on the year but if Lowry stays healthy he will surely make the All-Star team and be one of the most important players to his team in the league.

10. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

Davis is the real deal. The No. 1 overall pick has been banged up this season but when healthy he has the 4th highest PER in the league. He’s averaging 16.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 83.9 percent from the free throw line. Once the Hornets get Davis and Eric Gordon back in the lineup, they might be able to make a push for the playoffs while Davis puts up enormous numbers.

Topics: Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Oklahoma City Thunder

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