Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid? Rudy Gobert or Draymond Green? Lowe selects his 2021 NBA award …

He is wrapping one of the greatest offensive seasons in history, and the greatest passing season ever for a big man.

He has great hands; Jokic gobbles steals and rebounds — high-value plays that allow him to grab-and-go, and attack in semi-transition.

There has been consternation, voiced most notably by Nick Wright of Fox Sports, that a Jokic MVP will look silly in retrospect.

Part of Jokic’s MVP case is how he has kept the Nuggets afloat — with huge help from the ascending Michael Porter Jr.

With good health, he will probably go down as, what, one of the half-dozen or so best passers in history? In 15 years we might mention Jokic’s name alongside Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Larry Bird, and John Stockton.

He is Paul’s equal as a crunch-time scorer and distributor — the true heir to Dirk Nowitzki as the rare big who can run late-game offense without much help.

Some of it is that Jokic feels new.

The Nuggets average 1.16 points when Jokic shoots from the post or passes to a teammate who fires — 12th among 88 guys with at least 50 post touches, per Second Spectrum.

The damage gets worse when you include entire possessions featuring a Jokic post touch — capturing hockey assists and swing-swing-swing sequences that begin when panicked opponents double Jokic even though they know the pain that is coming.

The same “you can’t win” helplessness applies on the pick-and-roll, though it remains to be seen how much that holds up in the playoffs without Murray.

A few players in that stratosphere — Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Hakeem Olajuwon, Nowitzki, Curry — have “only” one or two MVPs.

Embiid has the best numbers, but he’s played about 600 fewer minutes than Curry and 400 fewer than Antetokounmpo.

He is neck-and-neck with Jokic as the season’s defining figure and most dominant player — the one we will remember in 10 years when we think of this odd pandemic season.

There is almost no statistical case for either Paul or Randle — both will probably make All-NBA teams — and I’m not sure Paul’s unquantifiable leadership is enough to overcome that.

Butler, Doncic, and Lillard each lifted teams decimated by injury or virus-related protocols — or both.

Edwards is 12th among 34 rotation rookies in PER, 26th in value over replacement player, and 29th in win shares.

Those numbers penalize Edwards for taking tons of shots on a losing team, and hitting them at a poor rate — and playing the bad defense we expect from rookies.

In 35 games since March 1, he’s averaging 23 points on 45% shooting: a semi-respectable 34% on 3s, and 53.3% on 2s.

Edwards leads all rookies in minutes, with about 800 more than Ball.

Given some baseline threshold of availability, I don’t prioritize minutes quite as much in the “of year” awards as in MVP.

Some matchups are tougher for the giants of the game, like Gobert, Embiid, Clint Capela, and Myles Turner — the last three all worthy candidates.

But what is often missed in such matchup machinations is that the giant can still have an impact — sloughing from the corner, waiting to pounce and reclaim his territory around the rim.

Gobert has grown more comfortable venturing to the arc to deter pull-up 3s from Lillard and Curry types.

Gobert has been among the very best defenders on isolations — most of which come against perimeter players after switches.

Green is the smartest help defender in the league — thinking two steps ahead, at the rim and in the passing lane before you know it, with steel-trap hands that can wrench the ball from almost anyone.

Opponents have hit just 47.9% at the basket with Green nearby, the lowest figure among all rotation defenders, per

His willingness to defend point guards means he cannot get schemed out of the central action, as happens to some of the nastiest wing defenders.

Even amid the ongoing 3-point deluge, the most valuable real estate is the area around the basket.

There are no kickouts to 3-point shooters because none are open; Utah’s perimeter defenders stay home, knowing Gobert can cover the entire paint solo.

Turner is on their level as a shot-blocker, but not as a rebounder or post defender; he has played only 47 games.

Bit by bit, possession by possession, Gobert tilts the math more toward his team over that mega-sample than any rival.

The Suns — patient, low risk, maximizing every possession — look like a Chris Paul team.

It has sometimes seemed as if Williams were overtinkering: Frank Kaminsky over Dario Saric as backup center, Kaminsky and Torrey Craig briefly usurpring Jae Crowder’s starting spot, staggering and then not staggering Paul and Devin Booker.

But all along, Williams had a gentle hand on the rudder, guiding the Suns to where they need to go in the big picture.

The Jazz have long sought a gunner type to freelance outside of Snyder’s read-and-react system — someone to inject unpredictability, and carry them for entire quarters.

Ingles is averaging 12.2 points — six fewer than Clarkson, and fewer than several other candidates: the Mavs’ one-two punch of Hardaway Jr.

Thaddeus Young has had a bigger impact on winning than Markkanen for the Chicago Bulls, but he faded down the stretch.

He lives on another planet as a shooter: 49.4% overall, 45.6% on 3s, 59% on 2s — compared to Clarkson’s 42/34/52 line.

Ingles is enjoying one of the most efficient shooting seasons ever, and it’s not because he’s choosy; he’s jacking almost eight 3s per 36 minutes, and daring off-the-bounce shots going left or right.

He has unlocked two of the best lineups in the league: the Knicks’ starters with Rose in place of Elfrid Payton, and bench mobs featuring the quartet of Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Taj Gibson.

Each has helped the Mavs to positive scoring margins with Doncic on the bench.

In between, there are older veterans who suddenly hone one key skill, and youngish vets who improve overall at about an expected rate.

He had good vision, but often chased points — barrelling into crowds instead of making easy kickouts.

He’s dishing six dimes per game, double his career rate, and serving as the hub of an offense that has crept above league average over the last six-plus weeks.

Randle shooting 42% on heaps of 3s came out of absolutely nowhere, and made him almost matchup-proof.

He leads the NBA in combined isolations and post-ups, and has been efficient at both, per Second Spectrum — slotting teammates into appropriate secondary roles, and enabling a low-risk, slow-down style.

He’s not great, or maybe even good, but he’s no longer a liability.

It is quite another to score even more efficiently — 45% on 3s, 63% on 2s — in huge minutes against starters.

The last spot came down to a pile of players, most of whom I mentioned on the Lowe Post podcast three weeks ago.

He maintained about league average from deep on a diet of pull-up 3s that was out of bounds for him before.

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