Joel Embiid secured the 2021-22 NBA scoring title Sunday.
The Bucks ruled Giannis Antetokounmpo out with right knee soreness for their Sunday afternoon game against the Cavs. That decision meant, barring the most improbable event in sporting history — something along the lines of a 250-point game by Luka Doncic — Embiid will be the first Sixer to lead the league in scoring since Allen Iverson in the 2004-05 season.
He’ll be the first center scoring champion since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000.
Embiid, who is the first to win the accolade as an international player, averaged 30.6 points over the Sixers’ first 81 games and appeared in a career-high 68 of those contests.
Embiid's closest contender in the competition was Lebron James (30.3 PPG), who was eliminated from the scoring title after suffering an ankle sprain that sidelined him in the final games of the Lakers' regular season.
Malone on his mind
Until Embiid, the last center to average over 30 points in a season was Moses Malone.
The late Hall of Famer posted 31.1 points per game with the Rockets (and a league-high 14.7 rebounds per contest) in the 1981-82 season. The next year, he helped the Sixers win their last NBA title.
“Well, that’s a challenge for next year. So next year I’ve got to come out and average more than him,” Embiid said with a smile after a 41-point, 20-rebound game in the Sixers’ win Saturday over the Pacers. “Obviously he’s a legend, and it’s great. Especially as a big in this era, it’s hard — it’s been a long time. It’s been, what, 40 years? It hasn’t been done, so that’s something that I think is great. I hope guys coming up, especially bigs coming up, are able to do even more.
“I think the biggest thing with me is that I feel comfortable with it, because I feel like I didn’t force anything. I felt like I just played within the flow of the offense. Before we had James (Harden), obviously I had a much larger role in the offense, whether it was playmaking or scoring. … We added him to try to share the load and all that, which has been great. Great stats, and I guess I’m happy about it.”