After a one-week hiatus, SBNation.com's NBA MVP Power Rankings have returned! Very little has changed, as LeBron James has determined that he will play like Zeus' avatar for the entire season, apparently. Kobe Bryant did slip a bit due to excellence from a pair of superlative point guards; a Grizzly also debuts in the Power Rankings.
Next week, we'll poll SB Nation's superb team bloggers to check in on their feelings about the MVP race to date. Stay tuned. Until then, let's dig in to this week's edition.
All stats are through Tuesday's action and via Basketball-Reference.com.
|27.6 points on .626 TS%, 8.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists
|As the Heat zoom forward, looking far improved over last year's edition at this point in the season, LeBron continues to have one of the greatest statistical seasons ever. Note that though he's taking few three-pointers, he's hit more than 40 percent of them. We're running out of things for The King to improve upon.
|27.7 points on .612 TS%, 8.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists
|The Thunder are quite excellent themselves, and Durant's overtime outburst against Denver was a jaw-dropper. From an individual accomplishment standpoint, the question for a post-All-Star Durant will be whether he can pass Kobe Bryant to take the lead for the scoring title. Kobe takes four more shots per game than Durant, so that's a serious hurdle despite KD's far superior efficiency.
|22 points on .558 TS%, 7.7 assists
|The Bulls have managed to hang on in Rose's repeated injury absences, but turn into an absolute juggernaut when he's back on the court. Watching how hard Luol Deng -- an incredible player -- has to work to fill Rose's gaps is telling.
|18.5 points on .577 TS%, 8.6 assists, 2.3 steals
|CP3 had back-to-back cringers this week, making a mistake that cost L.A. a chance to beat the Spurs on Saturday and falling apart in the fourth quarter in the Clippers' next game. That the two-game slide was the Clippers' first since opening week suggests how great Paul has otherwise been.
|29 points on .530 TS%, 5.8 rebounds, 5 assists
|No player but Kobe is taking 20 field goal attempts per game this season ... and Kobe is taking 24. But it's nothing like 2005-06, when he took 27.2. If he repeated that, he'd really be leading the scoring title race.
|20.3 points on .553 TS%, 15.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks
|The clock is ticking for the Magic to make a decision on whether to trade the big man midseason or hold its breath until July. Expect All-Star Weekend in Orlando to stoke those fires heavily.
|25.5 points on .576 TS%, 14.1 rebounds
|Love is having an extraordinary season by any standards; for a guy some smart analysts legitimately doubted could even play in the NBA because of his size ... it's truly outrageous. Love is now the classic response to any claims that undersized big men can't be great in today's bigger, more athletic NBA.
|19.5 points on .522 TS%, 7.9 assists
|As noted earlier this week, Parker is playing as well as he ever has ... and he has a Finals MVP. He's been San Antonio's best player by far, even when Manu Ginobili is healthy. Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford have found success on the fringes with Danny Green and Gary Neal, and Tim Duncan is still playing well. But having Parker all these years later is the real boon to the squad this season.
|23.4 points on .546 TS%, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals
|Westbrook has been a true sidekick to Durant as the pair feeds off each other for spectacular performances ... far different than early this season, when Russ seemed more like KD's pet vampire, sucking life from the game when he went off. LeBron-Wade-Bosh vs. KD-Westbrook-Ibaka is the stuff dreams are made of.
|15 points on .556 TS%, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2 blocks
|This should be a one-week visit to the MVP Power Rankings, but Gasol deserves some additional notoriety for getting Memphis into the middle of the playoff race with Zach Randolph on the shelf. Come April, this will be the team everyone attempts to avoid in the first and second rounds. Gasol, excellent on both ends in the paint, is a big part of that.
Others receiving consideration: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyrie Irving, Paul Millsap, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Steve Novak, Isaiah Thomas.