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Joel Embiid becomes first center since Shaquille O’Neal to win the NBA’s scoring title

Joel Embiid outpaces LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić and everbody else to lead the entire NBA in scoring

Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s pretty much official. Unless someone doubles up Wilt Chamberlain’s career high Sunday, as we head into the final game of the NBA season, we can finalize one noble distinction. Before the final weekend slate even tipped off for Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, the MVP candidate out of Kansas, etched his name in history.

Coming in with an average of 30.6 points per game, Embiid is now the first center since Lakers’ legend Shaquille O’Neal to lead the league in scoring. Shaq accomplished that feat in 2000. It is at once a return of the era of the dominant big man, as well as the obvious evolution of the sport, since led by Embiid, big men are doing a combination of things we’ve really never see them do before.

Shams Charania of The Athletic posted the tweet honoring Embiid once we learned that both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were out Sunday.

The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the Play-In. So LeBron James, who averaged 30.3 ppg falls a couple of games short from qualifying for the minimum number of games a player must be eligible to be considered for the honor. The 37 year-old star will nurse his sore ankle and get a head start on a much needed vacation.

The other closest competitor for the scoring title was Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak will get Sunday off so his 29.9 points per game average will lock for the year.

Luka Dončić is averaging 28.5 points per game.

And that means whether Embiid suits up against the Detroit Pistons or not, we can begin doing our collective Thrust the Process celebrations in unison as a fanbase.

Embiid has been an absolute destroyer of worlds this year, his age 28 season:

His combination of size and skill has been incredible to watch over the course of this campaign. Joel Hans has appeared in 68 games and that number would have been much higher if he hadn’t experienced a break through COVID infection.

Embracing the role of leader and franchise player all season long, shepherding the team through the trying Ben Simmons’ absence, it’s simply another feather in his cap towards his very worthy MVP case.

Just give Joel Embid the Damn MVP.

The Sixers will finish no lower than the four seed in the Eastern Conference. Depending on what happens in the Bucks and Boston Celtics games they could move up as well. But for a brief moment, we put everything else on pause and simply appreciate the athletic marvel that is The Process. There was a time not long ago people said his injury history and being out of shape kept him from even being a reliable player. We had to hear how he was immature, unmotivated, had a bad diet for way too long.

Well what if you told all of his haters and doubters that the league would only get exponentially more skilled and be played at an exponentially faster clip with tons of three pointers being shot, and it was none other than Joel who would lead all scorers for an entire season. Would they have ever believed you? Guessing they wouldn’t have even had him finishing in the top ten just a couple seasons ago. Since he’s been in a Sixers uniform he’s channeled Olajuwon, Nowitzki, Duncan, Mutumbo, Durant, and more recently, Harden. At his size it’s all pretty magnificent to watch.

Holy mackerel has this dude come a long way.

Oh right, and if you were drafting an All-Defensive team for the upcoming playoffs, he might be a top five pick.