Most NBA teams have played at least 20 games, which means we're about a quarter of the way through the 2016-17 season. That makes it the perfect time to check in with the MVP race and see which players are most deserving of the top individual award in the NBA.

4. PG Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

To some, Paul will be a stealth candidate in the MVP race. He isn't averaging career-highs in any statistical category except for three-pointers. As per usual, though, the diminutive NBA guard has been a steadying force for a Clippers squad that intends to make Golden State's NBA championship coronation challenging.

3. SG James Harden, Houston Rockets

He may still be listed as a shooting guard, but Harden is running the point for Houston and doing it incredibly effectively. He leads the NBA in assists with 11.8 per game, and he's averaging 28.3 points per game to boot. But he's also averaging 5.5 turnovers per game, which is tied with Westbrook for worst in the league. Still, the Rockets are easily outperforming expectations, so his place in the MVP race is solid.

2. PG Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

On Sunday, Westbrook recorded his fifth straight triple-double; nobody has done that in the NBA since the days of Michael Jordan. He's averaging a triple-double, the first player to do that in the NBA since Oscar Robertson.

So why isn't he leading the MVP race? He still has a propensity to go hunting for stats a little too often, and his team hasn't quite found their stride yet, although they are now up to 13-8.

1. SF Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Oklahoma City Thunder fans aren't going to like this. Heck, NBA fans might not even like this.

But Kevin Durant has to be the early leader in the MVP race. Amidst the various struggles Klay Thompson and Steph Curry have had this season, Durant has been a steady and dependable figure night in and night out. He's averaging 27.3 points per game while shooting .429 from behind the three-point line, and playing solid defense.

The Warriors wouldn't be atop the NBA standings without him.

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