Momentum in one of the most tightly contested MVP races in recent memory seems to be trending away from Joel Embiid. Just because the Philadelphia 76ers superstar may not win basketball's highest individual honor, though, hardly means he'll finish 2021-22 without garnering historic individual accolades.
The first among them? Embiid officially winning the scoring title on Sunday, becoming the first center in basketball to lead the league in points per game since Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-2000.
Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid wins the 2021-22 NBA scoring title, the first center to lead the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 10, 2022
Embiid, questionable for Philadelphia's season finale with knee soreness, enters Sunday's action averaging 30.6 points per game. Giannis Antetokounmpo had an outside shot to catch him for the scoring title on the final day of the regular season, but was ruled out for his team's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Embiid has long been compared to O'Neal due to his otherwordly combination of size, athleticism and back-to-the-basket scoring chops. The Lakers legend averaged 29.7 points per game in 1999-2000, becoming scoring champion for the second and final time of his career. O'Neal won his lone MVP that season, too, capping an utterly dominant individual campaign with his first NBA title and Finals MVP award.
Joel Embiid, obviously, wouldn't mind that same postseason fate. Assuming the Sixers don't defy expectations to win their first championship since 1983, though, Embiid can at least take solace from a rare accomplishment that continues cementing him as among the most talented, productive centers ever—MVP voting be damned, too.