1. LeBron James
James may pick-up his second MVP award this season. He led the Cavaliers to a thirteen game winning streak before losing a close game to fellow 2003 draftee Carmelo Anthony. He currently leads the league in scoring. With the acquisition of Antawn Jamison, James has enough weapons around him to lead Cleveland to its first ever NBA championship.
2. Carmelo Anthony
Anthony showed why he belongs in the conversation of the league’s elite after hitting the go-ahead bucket in the face of LeBron James during the final seconds of the Nuggets win in Cleveland. Many doubted that the Nuggets could win a championship with Anthony as the No. 1 guy – until he effectively defended James and hit seven of his last eight shots in regulation.
3. Kevin Durant
The second leading scorer has the Oklahoma City Thunder riding an eight-game winning streak. He has developed into a reliable clutch player and capable defender. The Thunder are currently fifth in Western conference and have a fairly easy schedule ahead of them. It is hard to believe that Durant is just 21 years old.
4. Dwight Howard
Howard still hasn’t learned any post moves during the offseason and remains one of the worst free throw shooters in the league. But despite all of these shortcomings, he is Orlando’s most important piece. He leads the league in blocks and rebounds.
5. Kobe Bryant
A sore ankle has forced the 2008 MVP to miss the Lakers’ five last games. He was a strong candidate early in the season with his string of game-winning shots. But what hurts Bryant’s chances the most is that the Lake Show has won four of their last five games without him in the line-up.
6. Tim Duncan
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have lost much of their magic. Despite averaging only 32 minutes a game, Duncan’s presence sets the tone for the Spurs offense. His great positional defense also helps his teammates out on the perimeter. In a season full of inconsistencies for the Spurs, Duncan is the only constant.