With reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose missing nearly half the season with physical ailments, Miami's LeBron James has become a heavy favorite to regain possession of the trophy he won in 2008 and 2009.

If he wins, as I suspect he will, James will be just the eighth player in league history to take home the league's most prestigious award a third time. This would place him with such luminaries as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone.

Not that it should influence voters, but he also would be the lone member of such select company without a championship ring.

Until recently, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant had authored a compelling case as an alternative for the No. 1 spot on the official MVP ballot that requires voters to rank five players. The league's No. 2 scorer, Durant had his team with a comfortable lead atop the Western Conference from the first week of the season.

Team success counts for plenty in MVP consideration.