Joel Embiid of the 76ers captures NBA score, becoming the first center to deliver a feat since Shaquille O’Neal



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For most players, 41 points on 14-of-17 shooting is a career night. For Joel Embiid, it’s just another day at the office this season. The Philadelphia 76ers center dominated the Indiana Pacers on Saturday to give his team its 50th win of the season, adding the icing on the cake to its remarkable season. With Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James out for their season finale Sunday, Embiid has taken the scoring title with 30.6 points per game, all but somewhat historic.

James and Embiid have been neck and neck in recent weeks, but James missing the end of the Lakers season means he has only played 56 games in total. A player must have played 58 to qualify for the scoring title. Antetokounmpo would have needed 47 points to catch even a scoreless Embiid on Sunday, and a lot more if Embiid had played and hit his usual tally. Embiid is the first center since Shaquille O’Neal to win the scoring title, and only the fourth since 1976 to do so.

In addition to the scoring title, Embiid once again wrote some offensive history on Saturday. Even if he plays on Sunday and goes winless, he will finish the season with an average of more than 30 points. That makes him the first center in 40 years to average 30 points per game in a season. Stars like David Robinson (29.8 in 1994), Shaquille O’Neal (29.7 in 2000) and Patrick Ewing (28.6 in 1990) all came close, but none have reached the threshold since Moses Malone in 1982.

Malone is a suitable equation for Embiid. He won three MVP awards during his Hall of Fame career. Embiid tries to win his first and has publicly lobbied for the honour. Malone won a championship with the 76ers. Embiid tries to lead Philadelphia to its first NBA title since.

He still has a long way to go in that regard. The 76ers are currently slated for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, not an ideal starting point for a championship. Should they face the Toronto Raptors in the first round, they will have to play without unvaccinated wing Matisse Thybulle in their road games. James Harden has been struggling lately, and trading before him robbed the 76ers of significant depth.

But their constant in all of this was Embiid. He kept the team afloat before Harden arrived. He even guided them after that. He is having one of the greatest offensive seasons a great man has ever had in NBA history, and now that season will be forever recognized in the history books.

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