NBA playoffs are less than a month away; everyone is buzzing about who will win the title of this season's Most Valuable Player. With only a few weeks left of regular season games, the MVP candidates are in crunch time to prove who deserves the title the most.
Here's a list of seven players that are likely to win 2011-2012 MVP.
Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers
Point guard Chris Paul made his debut with the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and Clips fans are far from disappointed with his contribution to the team. The duo of CP3 and Blake Griffin have had analysts debating whether the Clippers have the potential to surpass the other Los Angeles team, the Lakers.
Although the Lakers' season record is slightly superior, that does not mean that Chris Paul is not a solid contender for the MVP title. This season, CP3 has lead the Clippers to establishing themselves as a threat to all teams in the Western Conference.
Kevin Love winning Foot Locker's Three-Point Competition at the 2012 All-Star Weekend.
With a mediocre record and lower-tier conference ranking, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not quite favored for the 2012 playoffs. However, their forward-center, Kevin Love, has captured the attention of NBA fans and analysts this past month.
Love made a bold statement when he won Foot Locker's Three-Point Competition at the 2012 All-Star Weekend. Following the All-Star break, Love has been putting out numbers that make him MVP worthy. In his last 15 games, Love has averaged an impressive 31.2 points per game.
It is absolutely possible that an MVP can emerge from an average team. With a few more weeks of regular-season games left before playoffs, the Wolves still have some time to boost their record.
If Love stays consistent and continues to improve over the remainder of the season, then he has a legitimate shot of getting MVP. No pun intended.
However, his recent games have made it evident that he is no longer suffering and is qualified to win the MVP. With a season average of 22.9 points per game, Wade has stepped his game up to an impressive 25.2-point average in his past five games.
If he continues to play and improve like he has been lately, then he could have a solid chance of winning the title.
With all the buzz about trade rumors and MVP speculation, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic has been one of the most discussed players of the 2011-2012 NBA season. Although Howard decided to remain in Orlando for at least another year, he still has a promising chance of winning the MVP title. The Magic backbone's credentials include his versatility on the court and a season average of 14.5 rebounds per game.
Miami Heat's LeBron James has had a stellar 2012 season that has solidified him as a top candidate for MVP. With a season average of 26.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, his numbers are impossible to deny. He and No. 5 candidate Dwyane Wade are one of the most dynamic duos in the league.
The reason why James falls short of a No. 1 or No. 2 spot is due to recent observations. In his past five games, his shooting percentage has fallen to 46 percent. Of those five games, this percentage drop at the Bulls game is forgivable. But with the other four of those games being against the Wizards, Rockets and Celtics, LeBron's shooting percentage should have flourished.
Now is not the time for an MVP contender to be losing consistency. For MVP candidacy, it is crucial to finish strong as the season wraps up. Despite the recent setback, LBJ should have no problem bouncing back from his recent struggles and remaining a top prediction for the title.
In case you weren't already well aware: meet Kobe Bryant, guard of the Los Angeles Lakers. Among his lengthy list of basketball achievements, Kobe is the currently the highest average scorer of the NBA. Not to mention that at this past All-Star Weekend, he broke Michael Jordan's All-Star Game scoring record.
Unless you've been living in Antarctica for the past decade, there should be no discrepancy as to why Kobe is one of the most likely players to win MVP this year.
Kevin Durant winning MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game
The countdown concludes with the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, your reining 2012 All-Star Game MVP.
KD tied LeBron James with 36 points at this season's All-Star Game, a number which outscored MVP contenders Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. KD led the Western Conference to their victory over the East and was named the MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game. The All-Star Game sizes up the best of the best, so it is very telling of who is worthy of winning MVP later in the season.
Durant has led OKC to their season-long best record of the Western Conference. When it comes to the league, the only team they fall short of is the Chicago Bulls, and it's not impossible that the Thunder surpass them in the next few weeks.
In tandem with Russell Westbrook, KD is the leader of a young team that will pose a major threat to veteran teams in the upcoming playoffs.