Sizing Up the NBA MVP Race at Season's Midway Point

Tyson Agbayani@tysonagbayaniCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2013

Sizing Up the NBA MVP Race at Season's Midway Point

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    With the 2012-2013 NBA Season's second half on the horizon, the NBA's MVP race is starting to heat up.

    Will LeBron James earn his 4th MVP title in five years? Is Kevin Durant ready to take the title as the league's best player? Or can the new king of L.A., Chris Paul, snatch his first MVP?

    Time will eventually sort this mess out, but as for now, here's the top five NBA MVP candidates at the midpoint. 

5. David Lee, Golden State Warriors

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    What, David Lee at No. 5? Is this a mistake? The answer is no. 

    David Lee is once again having a solid season but the only difference this year, is his team is finally winning.  

    Sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference with a record of 25-15, the Golden State Warriors have surprised many this season and continue to prove on a regular basis that they're the real deal. 

    While Lee isn't setting career highs all across the board this season, his numbers have still been a thing of beauty. With 19.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game, Lee is proving that he is his team's best and most important player while making a case that he is also the best power forward in the league.    

    Although David Lee won't end up winning the NBA MVP award or even scratch other people's top five MVP candidates, Lee does deserve this kind of recognition.     

4. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    The New York Knicks seem to finally be living up to expectations this season and Carmelo Anthony is the main reason for their success.  

    Anthony is having the best scoring season of his career, averaging 29.2 points per game which is good for third overall in the NBA. While his numbers look good on paper, Anthony makes it look even better in person as he seemingly trashes defenses whenever he feels like it. Anthony is a cold-blooded killer on offense and it can be argued that he is currently the best scorer in the NBA.

    But if Anthony wants to be holding the MVP trophy at the end of the season, the Knicks must get back on track.  

    After jumping out to a 20-7 record this season, the Knicks have stumbled losing seven out of their last 12.  While the injury bug has had a role in this recent hiccup, Anthony and the Knicks must find their way out of this spell in order for Anthony to receive serious consideration.        

3. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    If there was still any question before this season about who's team the Miami Heat was, LeBron James has provided that answer.

    LeBron is once again having an excellent season with 26.3 points, 7 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game and is shooting a career high 55 percent from the floor. LeBron is, without a doubt, the most complete player in the NBA, and his numbers reflect that.

    But although LeBron is the most efficient and statistically the best player in the NBA, the Heat's 6-6 record over the last 12 games has caused him to drop out of the top two in the MVP race.

    While LeBron is currently on the outside looking in, there is no doubt that he will make a run for this award in the coming months. The Heat have proven that they are a championship team and it's really only a matter of time before they right the ship.       

2. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    As much as Lakers fans may hate to admit, the Los Angeles Clippers are the best team in Los Angeles and with Chris Paul at the wheel, the future looks promising.

    Since joining the Clippers last year, Paul has turned the once referred to JV squad of Los Angeles, into a legit title contender. Paul and the Clippers made team history this past December after going undefeated in the month and winning a franchise-record 17 straight games. The Los Angeles Clippers currently hold the third best record in the league at 33-12 and are behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    Although Paul is having a superb year at the point guard position; putting up 16.6 points, 9.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game, what he brings to this team mentally is what sets him apart from the other candidates.  Paul is as nasty as it comes on the court and plays his heart out whether they are up big or down. Paul clearly has a winner's mentality and it's obvious that this Clippers squad is feeding off of him.  

    If Chris Paul can stay healthy, continue to play at this level and keep winning, Paul has a great chance of taking home this year's MVP award.   

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    After losing to the Miami Heat in last year's NBA Finals, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking like a team on a mission as they continue to dominate the association.  

    With a record of 33-9, the Thunder currently hold the NBA's best record and with the average age of their squad at 24.8 years, they don't look like they will be slowing down anytime soon.

    As for their star player Kevin Durant, he is also having a career year.  Posting 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists a game, Durant has improved his game on both the offensive end and the defensive end. He is setting career highs in steals (1.6), blocks (1.2), assists (4.2), free throw percentage (91 percent) and field goal percentage (52 percent).

    Durant is looking as hungry as ever and the fact that his team is rolling only adds more weight to him being considered the league's MVP. If Durant and the Thunder continue to steam roll, Durant could earn his first MVP award at season's end, but by the look of his competition, anything can happen.