NBA MVP 2012 Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul Strong Contenders

The Chris Paul era with the Los Angeles Clippers hasn't just brought a second playoff contender to Staples Center this season. The point guard also means there are two legitimate candidates for NBA Most Valuable Player who play their home games in the building. Paul, along with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, are rated as strong contenders in the latest NBA MVP Power Rankings at SB Nation.

Tom Ziller rightfully rates LeBron James as the clear top choice for NBA MVP this season, but Bryant made a leap over Kevin Durant for the No. 2 spot in the pecking order. "Kobe hasn't been just the top scorer among two-guards this season, but he's also one of the best rebounders and the best playmaker," said Ziller. "If you close your eyes and look at the numbers, he's been disturbingly Wade-like."

Bryant leads the NBA in scoring this season, at 30.0 points per game, and is averaging 6.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game this season.

Paul, who has led the Clippers to the lead over the Lakers in the Pacific Division, is also seen as a strong MVP candidate, currently ranked eighth.

"There's a feeling that those back-to-back wins over the Nuggets and Thunder constituted a turning point for the Clippers, and CP3's floor game would have been the dominant story if not for Blake Griffin's maiming of Kendrick Perkins," wrote Ziller. "By the end of the season, once his games played number catches up, he should be right near the top of this list.

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