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LeBron James, Kobe Bryant Among Early Favorites For NBA MVP

Even if Dwyane Wade doesn't play Thursday night in Miami, the battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat will feature plenty of star power. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will have all eyes on them during the TNT broadcast, and they are at the top of the latest NBA MVP power rankings at SB Nation.

James is rated by NBA scribe Tom Ziller as No. 1 in the early race for Most Valuable Player honors, and it's hard to argue the logic. "His numbers remain out of this universe, and while his team's offense is far from perfect, it's still among the best in the world," Ziller wrote. "If you grade LeBron against his contemporaries, he's an easy leader for MVP at this point. It's only when you grade him against what you think he should be that he looks like a failure based on the season to date."

Ziller has Bryant, the winner of the last two Western Conference Player of the Week awards and the NBA's leading scorer, rated No. 3, behind James and Kevin Durant, who is having a fine season for the best-in-west Oklahoma City Thunder. "Kobe had an incredible week, with four straight 40-point games and, once that streak ended, a game-winning assist to Derek Fisher on Monday to beat the defending champs. The point totals are gaudy, and Kobe is rebounding and racking up assists at great rates," wrote Ziller.

Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers is rated fourth, with Ziller noting, "CP3's shooting has stabilized, and he's offering the Clippers enough backcourt scoring punch to make this a candidate for the league's best offense by the team the season wraps."

Lakers center Andrew Bynum is rated No. 9.

For more news and information on the Lakers or their upcoming Thursday game against Miami, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.