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In alphabetical order:
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
With Tony Parker out for the next few weeks, Tim Duncan has taken it upon himself to go right back to being the leader of the San Antonio Spurs. He posted back-to-back games in early March with at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks despite playing roughly 30 minutes per game.
Duncan, a leading MVP candidate at the beginning of the season, never really had a chance at the award due to coach Gregg Popovich. There's no faulting Pop for keeping Duncan rested for the playoffs, but it's doing him no favors in the MVP race.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
What were the odds in the preseason that Blake Griffin wouldn't be the Los Angeles Clipper with the nastiest dunk of the year? DeAndre Jordan may have one-upped Griffin's alley-oop game by annihilating poor Brandon Knight, but Griffin's the big man that keeps the Clippers' engine running.
Despite playing a career-low in minutes, Griffin has been a monster this season, as evidenced by his 23-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist effort in a 117-101 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on March 6. To put it plainly, Griffin has become a more well-rounded player, which only spells trouble for the NBA's other 29 teams.
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have taken the destruction-by-committee approach all season, but Ty Lawson earns his first berth in these MVP rankings based on what he's been doing since the All-Star break.
After averaging a more-than-respectable 15.8 points per game pre-All-Star break, Lawson has jumped up to over 23 points per game since mid-February. Considering that the Nuggets are only a few games out of the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, Lawson will have no shortage of chances to move up this list in the coming weeks.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Despite battling plantar fasciitis, Joakim Noah continues to deliver gutty performances for his wounded Chicago Bulls. The latest came on March 10 in a 90-81 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, where Noah battled inside against Dwight Howard all game and finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a steal.
Even if Derrick Rose doesn't return this season, Noah will help guide Chicago into the playoffs. The eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks only trail the fifth-seeded Bulls by a handful of games, however, raising the question of just how long the Bulls will last in the playoffs once they get there.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Given that Tony Parker was a top-three MVP candidate all of two weeks ago, I'm not planning on fully dropping him off this list. The second he returns to the court, his status as a top-10 MVP candidate likely returns with him.
Parker's return to the lineup could occur sooner than expected, according to the San Antonio Express-News. He's already running on a treadmill just over a week after spraining his left ankle, which has the Spurs optimistic about a possible return in late March.
Just missed the cut: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks; Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Dropped from rankings: Zach Randolph (injury)