Updated NBA MVP Rankings

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

Updated NBA MVP Rankings

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    The MVP race for the 2011-12 NBA season is changing every week, but there are some familiar names who will remain at the top of the slag heap throughout the entire year.

    Although the candidates on this list all belong in the conversation, the successes (and failures) of their respective teams will undoubtedly play a role in determining who walks away with the honor.

    There are some big men who are rapidly climbing the ladder, but does one occupy the top spot?

10. Kyle Lowry, PG Houston Rockets

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    Stats: 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.3 blocks, 3.2 turnovers, 43.8 percent shooting

    Lowry has played at an All-Star level since long before last season ended, but he's only just starting to gain attention in the public sphere.

    He's fantastic at facilitating the offense for the Rockets and is incredibly involved at both ends of the court.

    This isn't a new trend for Lowry, and as long as he can stay healthy, it's hard to imagine his pace of play dropping off to the point where he doesn't remain firmly fixated in the mix.

9. Dwight Howard, C Orlando Magic

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    Stats: 18.6 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.4 blocks, 3.0 turnovers, 59.1 percent shooting

    Howard still wants to be traded out of Orlando, but he's asserting himself as a major part of why the Magic are winning while he's on the roster.

    He's unlike any other center in the game in how dominant he is inside. His video game-type numbers haven't slowed down despite the constant trade winds swirling around him.

    Although his pathetic foul-shooting doesn't look like it will ever improve, he is so good in other areas of the game that it can be overlooked.

8. Rajon Rondo, PG Boston Celtics

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    Stats: 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 4.1 turnovers, 52.3 percent shooting

    Some Celtics fans might not want to hear it, but Rondo is entering an era where he is primed to take over as Boston's best and most important player.

    Imagine what the offense would look like if Rondo missed time. He is the engine that makes the car run, and there is no way the Celtics could replace him.

    He is so essential to what his team does at both ends of the floor. It's about time people started paying attention to all of the things he does so well rather than his jumper.

7. Dwyane Wade, SG Miami Heat

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    Stats: 18.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, 3.7 turnovers, 44.6 percent shooting

    LeBron James gets a ton of the MVP consideration (and for very good reason), but there are two contenders for the award on this Miami team.

    Wade is a far more versatile player than he receives credit for, and his attention to detail at the defensive end is something that is far too regularly overlooked.

    He might not put up the gaudy stats that others on this list do, but it's about far more than what shows up in the box score when determining who belongs here.

6. Derrick Rose, PG Chicago Bulls

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    Stats: 19.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 3.6 turnovers, 43.6 percent shooting

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again—the ceiling on Rose's game is limitless.

    He's pouring in one ridiculous effort after the other, and he's got a real chance to average 20 points and 10 assists per game this season.

    There is every reason to think that Rose will win multiple MVP awards before his playing days come to a conclusion, and there's a legitimate chance for him to become a back-to-back winner this year.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF Portland Trail Blazers

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    Stats: 22.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.9 turnovers, 49 percent shooting

    Aldridge was an All-Star snub last season, but he's a virtual certainty to represent Portland this season.

    He has emerged as the definitive leader for his team. The timing couldn't be better with the retirement of Brandon Roy just prior to the campaign getting under way.

    He has been a force in the low post, and the way his game has developed over the last two seasons has been fascinating to watch.

4. Carmelo Anthony, SF New York Knicks

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    Stats: 26.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, 44.1 percent shooting

    Anthony has the green light to do basically whatever he wants with the Knicks under Mike D'Antoni. He has taken over the offensive controls.

    In addition to being a scoring force, Anthony is also chipping in more assists than we're used to seeing, and he continues his barrage from behind the arc.

    If he can keep his turnovers down and the Knicks can put a turbulent start in the rear-view mirror, Anthony could very rapidly ascend up the rankings.

3. Kevin Love, PF Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Stats: 24.0 points, 14.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks, 3.1 turnovers, 44.2 percent shooting

    Love's season has been, in a word, ridiculous.

    After assaulting the stat sheet last season, Love has been even more prolific this year and has stepped forward as a very real threat from deep.

    He is dominating the opposition from just about everywhere on the floor, and his ridiculous average of 5.2 offensive rebounds per game lends an idea to how active he is at that end of the floor.

2. Kevin Durant, SF Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Stats: 25.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.9 blocks, 3.6 turnovers, 49.2 percent shooting

    Durant's statistics are not as eye-popping as some fans would like to see, but he's the glue that keeps it all together in Oklahoma City.

    Some argue that his game is too one-dimensional, but that couldn't be further from the case. He's actually assisting on more baskets than he has in previous seasons, and he's shooting a much better percentage from long distance than he has in either of the last two years.

    It's going to be tough to knock him out of one of the top three spots so long as the Thunder continue to win.

1. LeBron James, SF Miami Heat

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    Stats: 30.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.9 blocks, 3.5 turnovers, 60.1 percent shooting

    James is having a season unlike any other one in his incredible career, and that's really making a statement considering how good it's gone for him so far.

    He's abandoning his previous inclination to settle for jump shots, and he's becoming a more complete player with his new approach on the offensive end.

    Although his offensive dominance is what is of interest to most, James has also been very active at the defensive end as well and is currently averaging his best steals per game mark since the 2004-05 season.

    Can anyone slow him down with this type of efficiency? He's already got five games of 30 points or more.