There are just two days left in the NBA regular season and the playoff picture in each conference is becoming more clear. The New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs all clinched playoff berths on Monday night, while a loss dropped the Miami Heat to No. 7 in the East - only a half-game ahead of the Washington Wizards. The final playoff spot in the West will be decided on Wednesday night when the Minnesota Timberwolves will host the Denver Nuggets, with the winner earning the No. 8 spot.
However, the MVP race has been clear for some time as Houston Rockets star James Harden has asserted himself as the clear frontrunner in the MVP race - an award he's trying to win for the first time after finishing in second twice. He may have the award locked up but several other players are also capping off great seasons. With that in mind, here are the top five MVP contenders so far this season:
5) DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors
Stats: 23.41ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.9 rpg, 21.25 PER
DeRozan has changed his game this year and is shooting more three-point shots than ever before, and that has played a major role in Toronto emerging as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Given the unexpected success of the Raptors, he deserves a spot on this list - but he's not in the top tier of contenders to Harden.
4) Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Stats: 26.8 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.5 rpg, 24.97 PER
Lillard is having the best statistical season of his career but he has entered the MVP race thanks to Portland emerging as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. He's the driving force behind one of the biggest surprises in the league and, like DeRozan, has surpassed players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry in the MVP race because of it - but he is also not in the top tier of contenders.
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3) Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
Stats: 28.2 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 29.09 PER
Many people wrote the Pelicans off following DeMarcus Cousins' injury. Instead, they've clinched a playoff spot for the second time since drafting Anthony Davis. His play is the biggest reason for that as he has led New Orleans to a 16-8 record since the All-Star break and has 10 games with at least 30 points during that stretch.
2) LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Stats: 27.7 ppg, 9.2 apg, 8.7 rpg, 28.65 PER
LeBron has been rejuvenated after Cleveland's trade deadline moves with eight triple-doubles since the All-Star break, and the result is that the Cavs, once again, are serious threats to repeat as Eastern Conference champs. He's still the best player in the sport and is proving that, but his (relative) struggles during Cleveland's rough December/January keep him out of the top spot.
1) James Harden, SG/PG, Houston Rockets
Stats: 30.8 ppg, 8.7 apg, 5.4 rpg, 29.92 PER
You know it is only a matter of time before Harden officially wins the MVP for the first time. The Rockets have the best record in the NBA largely thanks to Harden and is the biggest reason why they're a legitimate threat to knock off the Warriors in the West. He leads the league in scoring and ranks third in assists. I don't think there's any way anyone else wins the award. Despite the addition of Chris Paul, this has been his year.Back to the NBA Newsfeed