Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
In alphabetical order:
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Curry isn't shooting lights out this season from the field (42.3 percent), but he's more than making up for it with his other contributions on the floor.
His averages of 19.7 points, 6.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, not to mention the 2.7 three-pointers he's sinking per game, are a huge reason why the Warriors are one of the NBA's most pleasant surprises through the first quarter of the season.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Ever since being traded before the start of the season, Harden hasn't hesitated to put the Rockets on his back, which has them sitting at a surprising 12-12 after 24 games.
Harden's eye-popping averages of 25.1 points, 5.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game make anyone who thought he wasn't worth a maximum contract look like a complete and utter buffoon.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Holiday drops into the Honorable Mention category this week after missing the 76ers' two games on Dec. 14 and 16 due to a sprained left foot.
In the 22 games he's played this season, he's averaged a career-high 18.4 points and 8.9 assists per game, allowing the Sixers to breathe easy about the four-year, $41 million deal extension that Holiday signed at the start of the 2012-13 season.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard makes his way back into the MVP rankings by virtue of guiding the Trail Blazers to three straight wins, including the game-winning three-pointer he drilled with tenths of a second left on the clock against the New Orleans Hornets on Dec. 16.
He's averaging 18.8 points, 6.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game for Portland, which has him clearly at the top of the Rookie of the Year rankings. Portland likely won't be a strong enough team for Lillard to warrant legitimate MVP consideration, but what he's been doing in Rip City shouldn't go unnoticed.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
By virtue of being the only point guard in the league averaging more than 10 assists per game, Rondo continues to merit brief MVP consideration. (Rondo's averaging 12.9 dimes per game.)
The Celtics' lackluster record and Rondo's continued struggles at the free-throw line are the two major concerns holding him back from moving into the top 10 of the MVP race.
Dropped from rankings: Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers (sorry, but the MVP isn't coming from a team that's 5-20.)
Just missed the cut: David Lee, Golden State Warriors; Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs