With Kevin Durant projected to miss at least the opening month of the 2014-15 NBA season there is little expectation that the Oklahoma City Thunder star will be able to retain the MVP title he wrestled away from LeBron James last campaign.
With that in mind talk has already begun as to who can step into his place. And despite tip off on opening night still over one week away, a number of names have already been mentioned to fill the void when award season rolls around in 2015.
As you might expect, LeBron James, the man who has won the honor in four of the last six years, is atop many people's lists at the moment with NBA fans expecting the face of the league to dominate on his return to his home state franchise the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Other names such as returning 2010-11 winner Derrick Rose, LA Clippers duo Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and the frighteningly talented Anthony Davis have all been earmarked as competition for LeBron in Durant's absence.
All fairly realistic names you might expect to hear in MVP conversation.
One former winner of the MVP award however has added another today, believing that a certain Houston Rockets star is primed to finally realize his potential on a consistent level.
Hakeem Olajuwon, winner of the award in 1994 whilst a Houston Rocket player, is confident current Rockets star Dwight Howard is more than ready to replace Kevin Durant as the star of the 2014-15 NBA season.
"He's healthy. He's strong. He's ready," explained Olajuwon. "Now it's about having the attitude to go out every night and dominate."
Dwight Howard is undoubtedly a talented ball player - you don't get eight All-Star call ups if you aren't. His defensive capabilities are highlighted by no-less than three Defensive Player of the Year awards (2009-2011).
But in his current situation in Houston, opportunities for the former LA Lakers center to dominate on the offensive side of the ball may be limited. Fellow All-Star regular James Harden is one of the most keyed-in shooters in the entire NBA and it goes without saying that Howard has to let 'the beard' to what he does best if the Rockets are to again mount a challenge in the West.
With the NBA MVP Award usually the reserve of those who find themselves atop the scoring charts year in year out, a shot at the 2014-15 award may be too much to ask from Howard.
Still, with Kobe Bryant given odds of 30-1 for the award by bookmakers last week, the Rockets star stands a better chance than the Black Mamba in the coming months.
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