Top 5 Early Candidates for 2013-14 NBA MVP

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Top 5 Early Candidates for 2013-14 NBA MVP

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James has had a stranglehold on the NBA MVP award for most of the last five years. The one year he lost was because Derrick Rose was on the best team in the NBA during the regular season and played almost as well as James did. James had better numbers nearly across the board and proved he was more valuable when his Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls in five games.

Last season, the award was decided early on. LeBron ran away with the award when he set the NBA record for most consecutive games with 30-plus points and over 60 percent shooting from the field with six. He was also the Eastern Conference player of the month for every month except April, when Miami had clinched the no. 1 seed and James received plenty of rest. He was almost the first unanimous choice for NBA MVP, but one voter felt compelled to prevent history by voting for Carmelo Anthony.

James came into the season as the clear-cut favorite to win another MVP award, but there are a few players that have the ability to overtake him. One factor against LeBron may be the Michael Jordan rule, where it is tough to top what you did the previous season, so voters look at your overall year as a disappointment. Even though he could have a much better season than anyone else, there will be a few Karl Malones ready to pounce on the award even though they don't deserve it.

Through seven weeks of the NBA season, these five players should be at the top of everyone's list for NBA MVP.

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5. Stephen Curry

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No. 5 was a toss up between Stephen Curry and Chris Paul. Curry is a much better scorer at the point guard position and Paul is more of a traditional point guard. The tiebreaker is that the Los Angeles Clippers are 1-0 without Paul and the Golden State Warriors are 0-3 without Curry. Curry is the only player in the NBA in the top-10 in points per game and top-five in assists per game. He is averaging 24.3 points and 9.0 assists, and has the Warriors within a game of the final playoff spot even though they have had injury troubles all season.

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4. Kevin Durant

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have the best record in the NBA and Kevin Durant is their best player. They were able to weather the storm with Russell Westbrook out early on, and have been the hottest team in the league over the last couple of weeks. Durant leads the NBA with 28.6 points per game and is shooting nearly 49 percent from the field. His biggest drawback is that he is an average defensive player and plays a position where it is necessary to stop guys like Kobe Bryant, Paul George and LeBron James.

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3. Paul George

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers have the best record in the Eastern Conference and are on a collision course with the Miami Heat to decide who goes to the NBA Finals. The evolution of Paul George continues as he went from a good player two years ago to an All-Star last year. Now, he is an elite player in the league.

He is the second-best two-way player in the NBA behind LeBron James, and provides a difficult matchup for James when they play. He has increased his points per game by at least five every season and is now sitting at 23.8. He is shooting 46 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 86 percent from the line. However, his rebounding and assist numbers are down from a year ago, which will cause him to miss out on the MVP award.

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2. LaMarcus Aldridge

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The Portland Trail Blazers were 33-49 a year ago and have made few changes to their lineup. They brought back Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. Their only change was losing J.J. Hickson and replacing him with Robin Lopez at center. Aldridge has been an All-Star and one of the best power forwards in the game for the last few seasons, but Portland's struggles to be a respectable team has cost him awards. Portland has the second-best record in the NBA at 22-5 and leads the NBA in points per game. Aldridge is averaging 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this season. He has started all 27 games for Portland and has won the last two Western Conference Player of the Week awards.

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1. LeBron James

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As hard as it is to believe, LeBron James is having a more efficient season this year then he did last season. He is averaging 25.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He is the only 25-6-6 player in the league. He is shooting just under 60 percent from the field, while also shooting over 41 percent from the 3-point line and nearly 79 percent from the line. Every single one of those numbers are career-highs and Miami is only a game out of first place in the East.