NBA / Apr 3, 2012 / 3:30 pm

The Top 10 NBA MVP Candidates, Week 5

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant (photo. Rob Hammer)

3. RUSSELL WESTBROOK – Last week: 31.6 ppg/6.3 apg/2.3 rpg
LW: No. 5, rising
Nobody can tell Russell Westbrook anything right now. America became so infatuated with Kevin Durant’s skill and humility that many of us automatically feel he has to take the most shots every night. Russell Westbrook comes off as cocky and a bit full of himself on the court, but he usually backs it up pretty well. Who can tell him he’s taking too many shots when he’s making most of them and the team is playing at an all-time high? Yes he’s the point guard, and yes his job is to make sure the best player gets the most shots, but who’s to say he isn’t the best player on some nights?

When he’s playing at the level he’s capable of playing at and shooting a high percentage from the field, he isn’t taking away from the team’s success. He isn’t taking food off of KD’s plate. He’s a matchup nightmare for some point guards; how can you criticize him for taking advantage of that? He only hurts the team when he shoots poorly and often, which has now become less often. The Thunder are playing the league’s best basketball right now and he has a lot to do with it.

2. LEBRON JAMES – Last week: 18.0 ppg/7.6 apg/5.6 apg
LW: No. 1, Falling
No player in the NBA has it as difficult as LeBron James does. Quite frankly, whatever he does in the regular season will ultimately go unnoticed if Miami doesn’t get the job done this year. MVP or no MVP. He knows that and he’s been playing like it, just not as hard recently as we’re accustomed to seeing. His effort hasn’t been the same on defense and on offense he’s been very passive, especially against Boston on Sunday.

Miami has been looking like a team that’s tired of playing meaningless games. It almost seems as if they like their chances better as the No. 2 seed. LeBron really needs a convincing performance against OKC tomorrow night if he wants to become the leader in this race again. If Durant comes out victorious again, he really becomes the runaway favorite to win it.

1. KEVIN DURANT – Last week: 24.0 ppg/9.0 rpg/3.3 apg
LW: No. 2, Rising
KD has taken over this MVP race. Here’s why: The Oklahoma City Thunder are the hottest team in the league right now. With Rose being out, Chicago has been struggling, and Miami is appearing to have it in cruise control. They look comfortable with the two seed while the Thunder appear to be playing for the league’s best record. They’ve turned it up while Miami and Chicago have turned it down.

The Thunder have emerged as the best team in the league after recently stomping Chicago (without Rose) and Miami, and Durant has been playing consistently efficient while LeBron has been sporadic. Right now, there’s no question Durant has taken over as the leader in this MVP race.

Who are your top 10 MVP candidates right now?

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