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NBA power rankings: JAMES HARDEN LEADS CLUTTERED MVP RACE

With the race for the NBA MVP heating up, we give you our top five candidates for the award as of Nov. 19.

Just missed: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has slowed down a bit after a hot start, pushing him just outside of our top five for the week. He’s averaging 24.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 steals and is shooting 45.4% from the field and 40.3% from beyond the arc for the 10-3 Spurs.

T-5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Durant has had little trouble finding his niche in The Bay for the 11-2 Warriors, averaging a team-high 27.9 points to go along with 8.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals. He’s also shooting a career-high 57.2% from the field and 43.1% from three.

T-5. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Averaging a league-leading 33.0 points per game, DeRozan became the first player since Michael Jordan (1986-87) to score at least 30 points in eight of his first nine games.

4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Another year, another reminder that Paul is one of the best two-way point guards in NBA history. He’s averaging 17.9 points, 8.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and a league-high 3.0 steals for the 12-2 Clippers.

3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Seemingly in cruise control, James has led the defending champion Cavaliers to a 10-2 start, averaging 23.2 points and a career-high 8.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists.

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

No Durant? No problem. Westbrook has responded to the offseason departure of his All-Star running mate in as Westbrook a way as possible, stuffing the stat sheet while shouldering the majority of the load for the 8-5 Thunder. He entered the weekend with a league-leading four triple-doubles, as well as 31.7-point, 10.1-assist, 9.6-rebound and 1.2-steal averages.

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

Harden — who is averaging 28.7 points, 12.5 assists and 7.8 rebounds — has only played in 13 games, but already has more 30-point, 15-assist performances (four) than the entire NBA had all of last season (three). If he keeps up his record-setting pace while continuing to steer the Rockets toward the playoffs, he’ll be tough to dethrone.

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