NBA MVP Power Rankings: Someone Is Starting To Challenge Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was running away with the MVP award for most of the first half of the season without having to deal with any real challengers. However, Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler has clearly emerged as a real threat to Curry in recent weeks, carrying an injured Bulls team on his back. With that being said, several other top players are also making their push at Curry. Here are the top five MVP candidates right now:

5) Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Durant has returned to his dominant ways this season, showing no ill effects from the various foot injuries that limited him to just 27 games last year. KD has missed seven games with an injury (one game for rest) and the Thunder are just 3-4 in the that time, but they're 26-8 with him on the floor. He's playing more efficiently than he ever has before (28.47 PER) while still putting up amazing numbers (26.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.4 apg) and shooting 51.7 percent from the field.

4) LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron has put up a good stat line to this point, averaging 25.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game this year while carrying an injured Cavs team to the best record in the Eastern Conference. He's no longer the unquestioned best player in the world, but he's still in the conversation - and putting up eye-popping numbers every single night.

3) Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has drasticall improved offensively (20.2 ppg), but his defensive is every bit as good as it's always been. On top of averaging 1.9 steals per game, Leonard has the ability to completely shut down the opposing team's best player, and has continued to do so this year. Finally, he is now a true superstar and is challenging LeBron James as the best all-around player in the league.

2) Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

Butler has firmly supplanted Derrick Rose as the face of the Chicago Bulls, and he has been one of the most exciting players in the league all season - highlighted by his league-high 53 points against the 76ers this week and 42-point performance against the Raptors, during which he broke Michael Jordan's franchise record for most points in a half (40). He has been one of the league's best defenders for the past few years, and now that he's really asserting himself offensively (22.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.2 apg), he's become a legitimate MVP candidate.

1) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Curry's star has faded a bit since the Warriors' amazing win streak ended, but he is still clearly the best player in the league. Leading the NBA with 29.7 points per game, Curry is shooting 50.7 percent from the field and a ridiculous 44.6 percent from three while averaging 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Oh yeah, he's also the best player and clear leader of a team that has tied the record for best 40-game start in league history (37-3).

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