Coming out of the 2013 All-Star break, the 2013 NBA MVP race is growing more lopsided each day.
What once looked like a legitimate three- or four-man competition has boiled down to just one man: LeBron Raymone James.
Through the first two weeks of February, James laid waste to the rest of the league. He topped it off by dominating his fiercest MVP challenger, Kevin Durant, in Miami's final game before the All-Star break. (Happy Valentine's Day, K.D.!)
Can Durant or another superstar dethrone King James from the top spot of the presumptive 2013 MVP favorites? Barring an injury to James, it'll be tough, but not altogether impossible.
To be featured here, a player needs to either be his team's unquestionably best player, one of the league's leaders in a major statistical category or on one of the teams with the best records in the league.
What will it take for someone to stop James from winning his fourth career MVP award? Find out here.
Note: Statistics and records are current through games played on Feb. 18. Last week's rankings here.
In alphabetical order
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
As recently noted by the Wall Street Journal, LaMarcus Aldridge ranks second in the league in field-goal percentage in the final minute of games when the score is within three points either way, according to NBA.com. Aldridge has converted nine of his 15 attempts in that situation this season, behind only Cleveland's Kyrie Irving (11-of-17).
Unfortunately for Aldridge's slim MVP chances, his Portland Trail Blazers sit three games behind the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot in the West. Aldridge has zero shot at the MVP without a major post-All-Star-break surge from the Blazers.
Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
Tyson Chandler continues to lead the league in field-goal percentage (67.3), with no one anywhere close to challenging him. (DeAndre Jordan is the closest, shooting 59.9 percent from the field.)
Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is also on the shortlist of favorites for this year's DPOY award. The New York Knicks defense hasn't been nearly as formidable this year as it was in 2011-12, but the Knicks having the second-best record in the Eastern Conference helps both his DPOY and MVP chances.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry couldn't take home the three-point shooting contest crown during All-Star Weekend, but he still managed to prove why he's one of the most feared shooters in the league.
The Golden State Warriors hit a skid right before the All-Star break, but Curry is still averaging 21 points, 6.6 assists and four rebounds per game on the season. If the Dubs can pull out of the slump soon and battle back into the top four of the Western Conference, Curry will go back to being a top-10 MVP candidate.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
A bone bruise in Tim Duncan's right knee is all that's keeping him from being a top-10 MVP candidate again. He missed four games in early February with the injury before returning on Feb. 13 and lighting up the Cleveland Cavaliers to the tune of 13 points, six rebounds, five blocks and three assists in 25 minutes.
If Duncan stays healthy after the All-Star break, he'll likely move back into the top 10 as long as San Antonio maintains the best record in the league.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Don't let Blake Griffin's lower-than-ever per-game stats fool you: He's having a monster 2012-13 season. He's averaging a career-low 32.5 minutes per game and still putting up 18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists in that time
Griffin ranks seventh in the league in win shares (7.7) and ninth in the NBA in PER (23.4), according to Basketball Reference. He's been a major reason why the Los Angeles Clippers are enjoying arguably the finest season in franchise history.
Just missed the cut: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics; Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
Dropped from rankings: David Lee, Golden State Warriors
Last week's ranking: Honorable Mention
He's shooting a career-high 50.5 percent from the field, averaging 21 points per game on 15.6 field-goal attempts. He's also chipping in 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks per game for Miami.
After a slow start to the season, Wade caught fire before the All-Star break. He averaged only 17.1 points, 4.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in November 2012, compared to 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game in Miami's first eight games in February.
Wade is tied with Carmelo Anthony for seventh in the league in PER (23.8) and tied for 14th in win shares (6.1) with Anthony, San Antonio's Tiago Splitter and Indiana's George Hill, according to Basketball Reference.
While it's impossible not to appreciate James' unprecedented efficiency, don't cast Wade aside just yet. He may be on the wrong side of 30, but he's proving this season that he's still capable of playing the game at an elite level.
Odds of winning MVP: 0.25 percent
Last week's ranking: 8
The list of NBA players averaging at least 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds per game in 2012-13 reads as following: Russell Westbrook. That's it.
On the year, Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 8.1 assists and a career-high 5.1 rebounds per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who entered the All-Star break with the second-best record in the league.
There's no reason to believe the Thunder won't remain a top-two seed in the West or that Westbrook will dramatically slump in the second half. Still, he likely won't rise much higher than this on the MVP favorites list for two reasons.
First, there's no hiding Westbrook's shooting efficiency (or lack thereof) this season. He's shooting only 42.6 percent from the field while attempting nearly 19 field goals per game, adding fuel to the fire for his critics who say he shoots too much.
Considering Westbrook has a teammate (Kevin Durant) who's shooting over 50 percent from the field, Westbrook isn't even the MVP favorite on his own team. He'd need to virtually average a triple-double for the final two months of the season to stand any chance of winning MVP.
Odds of winning MVP: 0.25 percent
Last week's ranking: 9
Paul George has been so good in 2012-13 that the Indiana Pacers have hardly missed Danny Granger, their former star forward who's been battling left patellar tendinosis all season.
George finished the 2011-12 season with per-game averages of 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists and then averaged 14.3 points, six rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in November 2012.
From there, his stats have only skyrocketed. Through the Pacers' first seven games in February, he averaged 19.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, finishing with a 23-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist triple-double against the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 13.
The Pacers only trail the New York Knicks by 1.5 games for the second-best record in the East, despite Granger's season-long absence. With Granger finally ready to return, the Pacers should only get stronger, but George's playing time (and MVP chances) could be adversely affected.
Chances to win MVP: 0.5 percent
Last week's ranking: 7
If Kobe Bryant has any realistic shot at the 2013 MVP, the Los Angeles Lakers need to finally get their act together coming out of the All-Star break.
A 25-29 team isn't producing an MVP, even if it's the storied Lakers franchise. To his credit, Bryant has been doing virtually everything in his power to get the Lakers' fortunes turned around in 2013.
In February, Bryant took it upon himself to assume more of the Lakers' point guard duties, which came at the expense of his scoring. He's averaging only 19.4 points per game in the month, but he's averaging 6.8 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game too.
On the season, Kobe's averaging 26.8 points, 5.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. He's one of only three players this season averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game (along with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook), according to Basketball Reference.
Without a serious Laker surge in the second half of the season, Bryant doesn't rank highly enough in win shares (7.2, eighth in the league) or PER (22.5, 12th in the league) to merit serious MVP consideration, though.
Odds of winning MVP: One percent
Last week's ranking: 6
After playing dutiful host for the 2013 All-Star Weekend, James Harden looked fully ready to get back to work and keep his Houston Rockets in playoff contention.
Harden has been simply sensational since being traded to Houston a few days before the start of the 2012-13 season. He's averaging 26.1 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game for the Rockets, setting career highs across the board.
Through Houston's first six games in February, Harden averaged 27.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and two steals per game, shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from three-point range, according to NBA.com. He finished with a plus/minus rating of plus-8.7 over those six games.
On the season, he ranks fourth in the league in terms of win shares (8.5) and 10th in PER (23.3), according to Basketball Reference.
Plain and simple, Harden has been a revelation in his first season as a full-time starter. As long as Houston stays in the Western Conference playoff hunt, Harden deserves fringe MVP consideration.
Odds of winning MVP: 1.5 percent
Last week's ranking: 5
Fresh off winning the 2013 All-Star Game MVP award, this could be the last time in 2013 that Chris Paul isn't in the top four of the regular-season MVP favorites.
A bruised right kneecap sidelined Paul for nine straight games in late January and early February, sending the Los Angeles Clippers on a semi-alarming skid. Upon Paul's return, however, the Clippers won four of their last five heading into the All-Star break.
Paul is the Clippers' great equalizer. He can pick opponents apart with pinpoint passes or slither his way through defenses on his way to the bucket. If he gets bored, he'll drain a few three-pointers in your face.
CP3 ranks third in the league with a PER of 26.8 and third in the league in win shares (8.9), according to Basketball Reference. He's also averaging an league-leading 2.6 steals per game.
So long as the Clippers stay in the upper echelon of the Western Conference playoff race, Paul has nearly as good a shot as anyone not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant to take the MVP home.
Odds of winning MVP: Two percent
Last week's ranking: 3
Carmelo Anthony had a rough time in the New York Knicks' final game before the All-Star break, but he's otherwise been sensational in 2012-13.
His ability to be a floor-spacing 4 makes the Knicks offense flourish. On the season, Anthony is shooting over 40 percent on a career-high 6.8 three-point attempts per game.
He's still not the most efficient scorer in the league, and the whole early-season "Hey, he's passing now!" movement has long faded, but Anthony's still in the midst of a career year.
Melo currently sports a career-high PER of 23.8, tied with Miami's Dwyane Wade for seventh in the league, according to Basketball Reference.
The Knicks, at 32-18 heading into the All-Star break, sit four games behind the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Anthony needs to dramatically improve his shooting efficiency and score the best record in the East to have any chance at the MVP, given what the top two MVP favorites have done this season.
Odds of winning MVP: Two percent
Last week's ranking: 4
Tony Parker is in the midst of the best season of his career for the team with the best record in the NBA in 2012-13. That merits Parker's most serious MVP consideration ever.
When Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili went down with injuries in January, the San Antonio Spurs didn't miss a beat due to Parker's excellence.
He's gone from averaging 21.9 points, 7.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game in January to 26.8 points, 9.2 assists and four rebounds per game thus far in February.
Parker is posting a career-high PER of 24.5, good for sixth overall in the league, according to Basketball Reference. He also ranks fifth in the league with 8.2 win shares per game, according to Basketball Reference.
At the All-Star break, the Spurs finished with a league-best 42-12 record, 2.5 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder. If the Spurs finish with the top record in the cutthroat Western Conference and Parker stays this electric, he's got an outside shot at upsetting the two top MVP candidates.
Odds of winning MVP: 2.5 percent
Last week's ranking: 2
Kevin Durant didn't lose the MVP award on Valentine's Day, but he certainly didn't do himself any favors that night either.
LeBron James, the reigning MVP, got the best of Durant in a much-hyped meeting between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder in their final game before the All-Star break.
Durant started an ice-cold 2-of-10 from the field, while James recorded 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists by halftime. K.D. did manage to salvage his stat line by scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the night with 40 points on 12-of-24 shooting and eight rebounds.
There's still two months left in the season, leaving Durant plenty of time to surpass James in the MVP voting. It won't be easy, though.
James has been recently widening his league lead in PER (31.4), with Durant trailing by over two points (29.2), according to Basketball Reference. K.D.'s league lead in win shares (13.1) has also been narrowing thanks to James' (12.3) recent streak of exemplary play, according to Basketball Reference.
Durant needs to maintain the league lead in scoring—he currently leads all scorers with 29.2 points per game—and needs to stay above the vaunted 50-40-90 shooting lines to have any chance at the MVP.
If he manages both, he'll become the first player in NBA history to accomplish both of those things during the same season. That'll be impressive in and of itself, no matter what happens in the MVP race.
Odds of winning MVP: 30 percent
Last week's ranking: 1
When constructing an NBA MVP resume for LeBron James in 2013, look no further than his final seven games before the All-Star break.
In Miami's six games from Feb. 3-12, James broke an NBA record for the most straight games with at least 30 points and shooting at least 60 percent from the field.
His amazing streak was snapped on Valentine's Day against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he still finished with 39 points on 14-of-24 shooting (58 percent), 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
James leads the league in PER (31.4) for the sixth straight season, according to Basketball Reference. After leading the NBA in win shares in each of the past four seasons, he trails only Kevin Durant (13.1) in terms of win shares (12.3) in 2012-13, according to Basketball Reference.
James does, however, lead the NBA in win shares per 48 minutes (.307), just over Durant's mark of .305, according to Basketball Reference.
If James emerges from the All-Star break anywhere near as dominant as he was heading into it, the rest of the MVP candidates hardly stand a chance in this race.
An injury to James or an unexpected cold streak for the otherwise red-hot Miami Heat are the only two conceivable obstacles to James' fourth MVP award at this point in the season.
Odds of winning MVP: 60 percent