The NBA has reached its midway point and that means it's time to look at the potential MVP candidates so far for this season. You can look at the MVP any way you want to; most valuable to the team, most valuable to the league, etc. I look at it as how would their team look without them? So your opinions may differ from mine. But these are my top 5 MVP candidates for this season.

Cleveland Cavaliers- LeBron James

Points a game- 30.3
Rebounds a game- 7.8
Assists a game- 7.3
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When it comes to being the MVP, you have to be your teams "most valuable player." LeBron James has definitely been the most valuable player on his team, maybe even in the whole league. Cleveland has now put away a disappointing start to the season and now they find themselves sitting pretty with a 29-23 record and in second place behind Detroit in the Central division. But you can thank LeBron for the turnaround. Nobody has been able to do what LeBron has done this season. How many times have you seen Cleveland down in the fourth quarter and then see LeBron literally take over the game? He's been the go to guy for this Cleveland team and he leads the league in fourth quarter scoring with 9.1 points. That actually is a record that he set this season that has gone unnoticed. That just shows you how clutch of a guy that LeBron is. When it comes to crunch time, LeBron is depended on the most and most of the time he delivers. But scoring isn’t the only thing that James is good at doing. While he is leading the league in scoring with 30.3 points, he also is an everyday threat at getting a triple-double. 7.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists says it all. As much as people want to count him as being the only guy on the team that does all of the work, he does know how to get the team involved. He’s only had 4 triple doubles this season but he’s been close to getting way more than that. He could either be only one rebound or one assist away from achieving a triple-double. So LeBron is a threat everywhere on the floor. Right now, LeBron should be the front runner for the MVP award because he is just having a career year. I’ve never seen better play come from this guy in all of his previous seasons as a Cavalier. As of February 15, LeBron has scored over 20 points in 22 straight games; a feat that nobody is even close to. Everybody knows that the pressure is on LeBron to perform well in every game, but he handles that pressure very well and performs great under it. He’s valuable to his team in so many ways and without him, where would Cleveland be at? In the games that LeBron was injured in earlier this season, the Cavaliers went 0-6. That just shows you how much LeBron means to this team. It’s hard to admit it if you’re a Cleveland player, but it really is the truth. He has given Cleveland hope in his four seasons in the league. MVP considerations for this guy should be on everybody’s list.

Los Angeles Lakers- Kobe Bryant

Points a game- 28.0
Rebounds a game- 6.1
Assists a game- 5.3
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What’s an MVP race without Kobe Bryant in it? Kobe will always be nominated as an MVP as long as he’s been doing what he’s always done in his career; score. It’s not a career year for Kobe, but it still is an MVP type season. Kobe’s worst season could be another’s best season. Shooting at a 45% clip, the L.A. man has put all trade rumors aside and performed like he always has. From the first game of the season to this day, Kobe still has no problem being a Laker especially with the new addition of Pau Gasol who can compliment Bryant on the floor. No, he hasn’t scored 50+ points in four straight games yet nor has he put up 81 in a game. But Bryant doesn’t need to do that in order to deserve MVP considerations. Bryant is playing much different this year. He shows only a little bit of inconsistency on occasions, but he still plays his role. When he is needed, he comes thru at the end of games similar to LeBron James. When it comes to crunch time, there is nobody else you would want to have the ball other than Kobe Bryant. He’s proven it in the past and he’s still proving it now. But sometimes it’s hard to put Bryant among the best in the NBA because the expectations are set so high for him, so 28 points a game isn’t anything new for him. He hasn’t been spectacular like LeBron has because we all know that Kobe is capable of scoring 30 points a game. It seems like when Kobe puts up 35 in a game, it won’t be headlined rather than it would be for other younger players. But regardless, Bryant will always put up MVP numbers. The crazy thing is that he has never won an MVP award despite his tremendous career. So what makes this year so different from all of the other years? Before the season began, there was so much talk surrounding Bryant and him being traded but Bryant has played as if none of that was even being talked about. Bryant was criticized for whining and complaining and being selfish but he hasn’t showed any of that since the first game of the season. Bryant has had to adjust at times as well. He finally got some help when Andrew Bynum emerged as a player but he wasn’t around for long because he got injured. So Bryant had to go for a short period of time without any help until the Lakers acquired Gasol from Memphis. Now Bryant has help that could potentially boost his MVP campaign. But when it comes to being the leagues most valuable player, I think Kobe has that in a bag. When I think of the most “valuable” player, I think of who would people pay to go see every night. Who else but Kobe has that ability to draw in fans from different cities? So Kobe has a legit shot at the MVP title this year but it’s hard to tell it when you’ve been playing at the same level that you’ve played at your whole career.

New Orleans Hornets- Chris Paul

Points a game- 20.5
Rebounds a game- 4.0
Assists a game- 10.9
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Some may think of Chris Paul as overrated and over hyped but why? If you look at where he’s brought this team, it’s too hard to count him out as an MVP candidate. There is no reason why Paul doesn’t deserve to be in the MVP race because the way he is playing ball is tremendous. The Hornets have a chance to win the division over teams like the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs; two very good teams. But the Hornets are a team that basically came out of the woodwork, all led by their all-star point guard, Chris Paul. The way that Paul can dish the ball out to his team is ridiculous as he averages a double-double a game. Every season, he has improved his level of playing ability and this season is something special for him. Paul is only in his third season and he has been playing like a veteran. He is reliable in crunch time, he shoots a respectable 47% from the floor, he can hit the wide open three pointers, he knows how to take the ball to the rim and draw the foul, and he definitely knows how to get his teammates involved. Those 10.9 assists aren’t a joke because he’s basically been doing that throughout his whole career. And don’t disregard his defensive skills either. The man is averaging about 2.6 steals a game so he knows how to play on both sides of the floor. When it comes to team basketball, nobody delivers like Paul does. The Hornets revolve around Paul and as a third year player, he’s basically the backbone to this organization. It’s easy for Paul to get MVP considerations but it’s difficult to win it over players who are championship material. Kobe and LeBron both have playoff experience and many would believe that if Chris Paul won the MVP award, then it would be a fluke in the playoffs. But we can’t say that because we haven’t seen him in the playoffs yet. Regardless, Paul is really the only reason why this team is as successful as it is right now. They hold the best record in the Western Conference right now and Paul is the best player on the best team. So why not have him in the race for the MVP. If he doesn’t win it this year, there is definitely a chance for him to win it in the future. But if this team goes on further into the season and finish off with a tremendous record, why not give the MVP award to Paul?

Orlando Magic- Dwight Howard

Points a game- 21.7
Rebounds a game- 14.6
Assists a game- 1.4
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There is only one guy in the league who doesn’t have a jumper at all that can still average 21.7 points a game and that’s Dwight Howard. Howard isn’t your average big man in the paint. He does everything that a big man is supposed to do, such as grab rebounds, block shots, put the ball in the basket and intimidate others from driving the ball to the basket. As a 6’11 guy who stands in the paint, are you really going to try and go one-on-one with him straight to the basket? That’s what Howard brings to the table when it comes to Orlando. There isn’t anybody else on that team that they can depend on more to get the job done than Howard. Nobody else in the NBA is a bigger threat in the paint than Howard is. He averages a double-double in almost every game and he brings a lot of energy onto the floor. The only thing that affects his scoring is his ability to shoot free throws. He is the first person to foul when it comes to the opposition because he only shoots 59% from the line. So if a team doesn’t want to give up the easy basket, they go to Plan B and immediately foul him. But the same thing was with Shaq. It didn’t bother his career though because he has turned into a Hall of Fame player. The same could possibly happen with Howard. Without Howard, I believe that Orlando would be a perennial lottery team looking for somebody like Howard, but they have him now and he’s given the Magic a shot at a playoff run. It may be difficult as a 22 year old to be the one that is depended on the most, but he puts the Magic in contention for the playoffs every year. As long as Howard is in a Magic jersey, then there is no doubt that he could lead this team to a title one day; it’s just a matter of patience and time. Howard is still young though so he does have some flaws that he needs to work out of his game. Like head Coach Stan Van Gundy said earlier in the week; Howard needs to stop worrying about scoring so much and he needs to focus more on playing better defense and rebounding better. In order for Dwight to be an MVP, he doesn’t need to be a selfish player by scoring so much and try to be a star because he has been successful by NOT doing that. So once Howard re-adjusts to what he’s used to doing, he will always be deserving of the MVP. The main reason why the Orlando Magic has been so successful this season is because of the way Howard was dominating on the boards. But this Howard is having a career year this season and his numbers are MVP material.

Phoenix Suns- Steve Nash

Points a game- 17.4
Rebounds a game- 3.5
Assists a game- 11.7
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Steve Nash is still an MVP candidate as long as his team is playing good basketball around him. The double-double machine is playing just as good as he did when he won his other previous two MVP awards so that still puts him in the MVP race. This franchise is basically revolved around their point guard who has been selected to another all star game this season. Nash is the main guy on this Suns team that they can rely on to get the job done. Nash is still shooting tremendous from behind the arch with a 46% shooting percentage and a 50% field goal shooting percentage which ranks him among the top 5 in shooting percentage for a guard. But the reason why Nash is ranked fifth on my MVP list is because he’s already won two MVP awards but hasn’t been to the NBA Finals. So these MVP awards aren’t helping him and his team out come playoff time. Not like it’s a fluke for Nash, it’s just that he’s basically had his chance even though he still continues to put up MVP numbers consistently. Nash has Chris Paul talent (or it may be the other way around) and he can do things from taking the ball to the paint, penetrating and dish the ball out to an open player, hit open shots and create open looks. For a guy that is complimented with the team that he has, I don’t believe that they would be as successful without Nash rather than they are with him. That is what Nash is to this team and this organization. He is one of those rare point guards that can almost do everything without trying to grab all of the attention and try being a superstar like many other selfish athletes. He plays for the team and that is why he has won the MVP award twice already in his career. This season may not result as it did two years ago for Nash, but even if he doesn’t win it, he still is an MVP type player.

Other notable MVP candidates: Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett

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