As of this very moment, Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge ranks 10th in the 2013-2014 Kia “Race to the MVP” Ladder. Part-way through the eighth season of his career, this is the first time Aldridge has breached legitimate league-wide Most Valuable Player consideration.
His newfound rhythm is due in no small part to Robin Lopez. Playing alongside a young, traditional center for the first time since the Trail Blazers acquired him in 2006  has allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to run his game far more consistently, without wearing himself down.
This season, Aldridge has averaged 22.1 points (career high) and 9.6 rebounds (career high) per game. On the MVP ladder, he is ranked behind (in order): 1. Chris Paul, 2. Kevin Durant, 3. LeBron James, 4. Paul George, 5. Tony Parker, 6. Kevin Love, 7. James Harden, 8. Anthony Davis, 9. Stephen Curry.
Of course, realistically LaMarcus Aldridge is not going to win the MVP Award unless Mr. Swackhammer wisens up and steals a full 9-man rotation’s worth of NBA talent for Space Jam 2, but his inclusion in the top 10 represents an important milestone in his career that will not show up in official stats or accolades.
If the Trail Blazers are able to replicate their early success as the season plays out, we may see Aldridge climb the MVP ladder even further. For now, consider his inclusion among the elite as well deserved recognition for what he has accomplished in Portland this year.
 – Joel Przybilla and Marcus Camby were past their primes, while Channing Frye and J.J. Hickson were less than traditional interior presences. Greg Oden doesn’t count.