76ers' Joel Embiid Becomes 1st Center to Average 30 PPG Since 1982

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 9, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 9: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the game against the Indiana Pacers on April 9, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

With a dominant performance in the Philadelphia 76ers' 133-120 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, center Joel Embiid is guaranteed to average at least 30 points per game this season.

Sam Quinn of CBS Sports noted that Embiid is the first NBA center to accomplish that feat since Moses Malone in 1982, and he also listed several Hall of Fame centers who never reached the 30-points-per-game mark in a season:

Sam Quinn @SamQuinnCBS

Joel Embiid has officially become the first center to average 30 PPG in a season since Moses Malone in 1982. Some notable career-highs from those who never got there:<br><br>Robinson: 29.8 (93-94)<br>Shaq: 29.7 (99-00)<br>Ewing: 28.6 (89-90)<br>Hakeem: 27.8 (94-95)<br>Duncan: 25.5 (01-02) <a href="https://t.co/UjRJx2wlZO">https://t.co/UjRJx2wlZO</a>

It was also noted by StatMuse that Embiid is almost guaranteed to win the scoring title as well, since Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo would have to do something unbelievable to catch him:

StatMuse @statmuse

Joel Embiid pretty much has the scoring title in the bag.<br><br>Even if he plays the last game of the season tomorrow and scores 0 points, Giannis would have to score 47 to pass him.<br><br>If Embiid sits out tomorrow, Giannis needs 78 points. <a href="https://t.co/QGk1kk7oXZ">pic.twitter.com/QGk1kk7oXZ</a>

As seen in the following highlight reel, Embiid was essentially unstoppable Saturday, racking up 41 points and 20 rebounds in the 76ers' victory:


πŸ”₯ <a href="https://twitter.com/JoelEmbiid?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JoelEmbiid</a> ERUPTED for a 41 point double-double in the <a href="https://twitter.com/sixers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sixers</a> win.<br><br>41 PTS | 20 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL<br><br>πŸ”₯ Embiid has had 41+ points in 3 of his last 4 games! <a href="https://t.co/RdftVXyCFA">pic.twitter.com/RdftVXyCFA</a>

The 76ers still have one game to play during the regular season, as they will face the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, but even if Embiid plays and goes scoreless, he can't fall below 30 points per game.

Even though Embiid has clinched averaging at least 30 points per game and has nearly clinched the scoring title, he may still play Sunday since a Sixers win coupled with a Boston Celtics loss would move Philadelphia up from the fourth seed to the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Before Embiid accomplished the feat, there were only 15 instances in NBA history when a center averaged at least 30 points during a season, per StatMuse.

Embiid is the sixth center to do so, joining Malone, Bob McAdoo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Walt Bellamy.

Malone, who is a 76ers legend, averaged 31.1 points per game when he was a member of the Houston Rockets during the 1981-82 campaign. Malone won his second of three career NBA MVP awards that season.

Embiid is firmly in the MVP race, but he is far from a lock, with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Antetokounmpo also making strong cases.

Like Embiid, Jokic made history this year by becoming the first player with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season.

Jokic, who won the NBA MVP award last season, is averaging 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game for a Nuggets team he led to the playoffs despite the absence of co-star Jamal Murray all season due to a torn ACL.

Meanwhile, Giannis is in search of his third career MVP award and is coming off winning NBA Finals MVP last season.

The Greek superstar is averaging 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game for a Bucks team that is second in the East.

Embiid's averages of 30.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game compare favorably to what Jokic and Giannis have done, but he is far from a lock to become the first Sixers star to win MVP since Allen Iverson in 2001.