Joel Embiid clinched the 2021-22 NBA scoring title Sunday, becoming the first international player to do so.
Embiid 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, but he clinched the honor when Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out of the Milwaukee Bucks‘ finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, had Embiid scored zero points Sunday against the Detroit Pistons, Antetokounmpo would have had to score 47 against Cleveland to win the title. If Embiid hadn’t played, Antetokounmpo would have needed 78.
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 also set several other marks by winning the scoring title. The MVP candidate 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 award.
Embiid will 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. His current 33.8 minutes per game would surpass Stephen Curry‘s 34.2 minutes in 2015-16 and last season.
In that scenario, Philadelphia would play the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, which begin next weekend. Otherwise, the 76ers will have the fourth seed and will face the Toronto Raptors in the first round.
Embiid is listed as questionable to play against Detroit with right knee soreness.