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Top 5 NBA MVP candidates halfway through the season

Dark-horse candidates

Kevin Durant

The 2014 NBA MVP is playing some of his best basketball in his time with the Nets, and it has coincided with Brooklyn going from a sub-.500 team to a potential No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have won 16 of their last 18 games, and a big reason is the play of their star forward who has averaged nearly 30 points per game – currently ranking sixth in the league – while being held to under 20 points in just two contests this season. If Durant can stay healthy and continue his efficient play while propelling the Nets to the top of the East, he could sneak up to win the award.

Donovan Mitchell

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that has often been overlooked thus far in the season despite being 25-14 and a top-five team in the East, but they are young, dangerous and led by a budding star in Mitchell. Of course, the guard had some fantastic years during his time in Utah, but the switch to Cleveland has done him good as he is one spot behind Durant in league-scoring average with 29 points per game. While Mitchell impacts the game as a passer, rebounder and on defense as well, he has become the go-to scorer the Cavs were missing last year, with four 40-plus point performances highlighted by his 71-point outing earlier this month against the Bulls. Should Mitchell lead Cleveland to the top of the East while continuing his sensational play, he too could be alive and well in the MVP mix.

Ja Morant

With Golden State and Phoenix failing to live up to expectations, Morant has been able to elevate the Memphis Grizzlies to the top of the West. In his fourth season in the league, the point guard continues to get better and better, and seemingly makes a highlight-reel play every night. He has impressive averages of 27.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and eight assists, and has already posted three triple-doubles on the year. Morant will need to show out against some of the Western Conference stars in this mix he will face in the second half, but if he does, there’s no doubt his name will be in the MVP conversation come spring.

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