Joel Embiid wins NBA scoring title for first time, becomes first center since Shaq to claim crown

ESPN | Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid clinched the 2021-22 NBA scoring title Sunday, becoming the first international player to do so.

Embiid, who was born in Cameroon, was already the overwhelming favorite to claim the first scoring title by a center since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 heading into the final day of the regular season. He locked up the honor when Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out of the Milwaukee Bucks’ finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid finished with 30.6 points per game this season while Antetokounmpo averaged 29.9. Embiid sat out Philadelphia’s finale against the Detroit Pistons.

Embiid’s stiffest competition, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (30.3 PPG), didn’t qualify for the scoring title after a sprained ankle cost him the final few games of the season. James played in 56 games in 2021-22, under the 58-game threshold necessary to qualify for season-ending awards.

Beyond becoming the first international player to lead the league in scoring, Embiid set other marks this season. He set the record for playing the fewest minutes per game by a scoring champion since the shot clock was introduced in the 1954-55 season — Embiid’s 33.8 minutes per game surpasses Stephen Curry’s 34.2 minutes in 2015-16 and last season.

The MVP candidate also became the first center to average more than 30 points for a season since Moses Malone in 1981-82 (when the Hall of Famer won the MVP).

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