With the regular season wrapping up, it’s time to take a look at Philadelphia 76ers‘ star Joel Embiid and his phenomenal season. The seven-foot center put together his best season by far, leading not just the 76ers but the entire league in scoring with 30.6 points per game. However, his scoring is just one of the many career highs he set this year.
The last time a center led the NBA in scoring was over twenty years ago. Shaquille O’Neal was the last one to do it in the 1999-2000 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. The last time that a center averaged 30 or more points per game was all the way back in the 1981-82 season when Moses Malone won MVP in Houston. Based on more traditional stats, Embiid still put in the best year of his career, just a year removed from finishing second in the MVP race.
Joel Embiid, as expected with his high scoring outputs, set his career-high in both field goals attempted (9.8) and field goals made (19.6) while also setting his career-high in assists with 4.2 per game. He also attempted 11.7 free throws per game, making 9.6 per game, both career highs. And for those who argue that his high volume of free throws should put an asterisk next to the scoring title and any MVP consideration, a much-needed reminder that Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the other MVP candidates, is attempting nearly just as many with 11.4 per game.
If teams are sick of seeing players shoot free throws, they should stop fouling them so often. Even though all of these career highs, the most important career-high Embiid posted, this season was in games played, though. Joel Embiid played in 68 games — Embiid missed nine games with a positive COVID diagnosis — for the 76ers and in a league where availability is so important, and with a player who has struggled with it in the past, it’s great to see.
Beyond just his stats, the obstacles Joel faced this year are especially unique. At the beginning of the year, the 76ers had a significant majority of their money tied to three players: Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons. The first of the Sixers’ big three, Joel Embiid, was playing at a historic rate.
The second, Tobias Harris, was playing at a decent level but often fell into the conversation for one of the worst contracts in the entire NBA. The third, Ben Simmons, refused to even play a game for the 76ers after trade rumors and trade demands. With all of this falling apart, Joel Embiid single-handedly kept the Sixers competitive and vying for one of the East’s top seeds.
No player this year had to carry the weight of their team as heavily as Joel Embiid and even considering the acquisition of James Harden, it is clear just how important Joel is to the 76ers. With Harden going through a slump and Tyrese Maxey being the only consistent player for the Sixers besides Embiid, it’s clear that Embiid is truly the most elevating and dynamic player in the entire NBA.