Kyrie Irving third, Al Horford 10th in Washington Post MVP Ratings

In the Washington Post's MVP straw poll, James Harden stands clearly at the top with 944 points. Lebron James sits well below Harden at Number Two in the ratings with 773 points. Kyrie Irving with 347 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo (317 points) follow for third and fourth place, respectively.

Harden's Rockets have an 18-4 record and are riding a seven-game winning streak. He is averaging 31.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists. His team has achieved that record, for the most part, without the services of guard Chris Paul. Lebron James' Cavaliers have a 17-7 record and have won their last 12 games. They are now on a roll. The King is averaging 28.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 8.5 APG. Here is The Washington Post's Tim Bontemps with his comments on the top six players:
Harden has led the Houston Rockets to the best record in the Western Conference, largely without co-star Chris Paul, while James has powered the Cleveland Cavaliers to 12 consecutive wins, lifting the team back up the standings after a lackluster 5-7 start. His former Cavaliers sidekick, Irving, leads a Celtics team with the NBA’s best record, one that stunned the NBA by reeling off 16 straight wins in the wake of Gordon Hayward’s season-ending injury on opening night. Antetokounmpo has taken the final step to NBA superstardom, while the Warriors continue to be the league’s best team thanks to the combined brilliance of (Steph) Curry and (Kevin) Durant.

In this morning's NBA TV broadcast, Chris Webber, Isiah Thomas and Kevin McHale discussed the best NBA backcourts, and Kevin had this to say about James Harden and Kyrie Irving:

"I look at who's playing the best - Harden and Kyrie irving. Kyrie and James (Harden) are playing at at a different level. Harden's patience and ability to go where he wants, and Irving's just overall confidence - his ability to just take over games is amazing."

There is a dilution factor that comes into play when an MVP candidate shares the court with another nominee. That is already happening with the Warriors' Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Chris Paul's return to the Rockets may dilute Harden's firm hold on the top position somewhat. Al Horford sitting at Number 10 in the voting may adversely affect Irving's numbers slightly, but it is great to see Al in the conversation. Lebron and Giannis have no such problem. They have no competition within their own teams.

McHale's statement about Kyrie's "ability to take over games is amazing" was right on. He truly is the Celtics' Bus Driver, hopefully driving the team all the way to the Finals this season.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports