NBA-Odds-and-Expert-Picks2014 NBA MVP Power Rankings: Week 14: For most of the NBA season, a strong argument could be made for several players when it came to discussing the MVP Award. However, a scoring barrage on the part of Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has established the Thunder star as the clear frontrunner for the honor as the All-Star break approaches. Sure, there is time for other contenders to make a run, but for now, the MVP discussion starts and stops with Durant. That being said, there is nothing wrong with taking a closer look at the players poised to snatch the MVP Award way from Durant if his season would take an unexpected turn.

1.      Kevin Durant, Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder

It happens so many times in the NBA that the MVP Award is decided by one hot stretch that allows a player to grab the attention of voters and never relinquish control. Durant’s recent scoring binge has been just that and then some as he has carried the Thunder to the best record in the NBA despite Russell Westbrook being sidelined. On his part, Durant leads the NBA with 31.1 points per game. Baring an unprecedented run by another player, Durant just has to put up solid numbers the rest of the way in order to win MVP honors for the first time.

2.      LeBron James, Forward, Miami Heat

James is still the best player in the NBA, and while his all-around, efficient game is still impressive, he is somewhat a victim of his own success. The two-time defending champion Heat aren’t dominating the Eastern Conference like last season, and a head-to-head loss against Kevin Durant and the Thunder during Durant’s 30-point game streak only added to the hype of his main competition for the MVP Award. Unless James is able to take the Heat on another long winning streak, he is going to have a tough time tracking down Durant.

3.      LaMarcus Aldridge, Power Forward, Portland Trail Blazers

Portland’s surprise season has been fueled by the strong play of Aldridge. He is sixth in the NBA in scoring and rebounding and third in double-doubles. Aldridge’s consistent play has the Trail Blazers sitting third in the Western Conference, and with the recent slump of point guard Damian Lillard, his play has been even more valuable. Ultimately, it will take a letdown on the part of the top two contenders for Aldridge to sneak in, but if that happens, he will be waiting with steady game-to-game play.

4.      Blake Griffin, Power Forward, Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul went down with a shoulder injury, and the much-improved Griffin has more than picked up the slack. He is eighth in the NBA in scoring and is nearly averaging a double-double for a Clippers’ team that has the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. Griffin has really expanded his game this year, adding a mid-range jumper and shooting 70.1 percent from the foul line. Paul’s impending return could hurt his MVP hopes in the long run, but Griffin’s highlight-reel dunks combined with his expanded game give him a chance to make some noise.

5.      Carmelo Anthony, Forward, New York Knicks

No, the Knicks aren’t even in a playoff spot in the bad Eastern Conference, but it is tough to blame Anthony. He is second in the NBA in scoring, and for a New York team that has been plagued by injuries, he has kept the season from becoming a complete disaster. He has even shouldered the load inside for the undersized Knicks, hauling in 8.8 rebounds per game. New York has slowly been crawling back into contention, and while the team’s record is going to be a big hurdle to his MVP hopes, it is tough to deny Anthony’s value.

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