Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid had one of the most extraordinary seasons of the 2021-22 season. The senior player averaged 30.6 points to become the first major man to lead the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and the first senior man to average 30 points in a season since Moses Malone in 1982.
Embiid was able to do all of that on Earth. He’s been taking defenders off the dribble, he’s been hitting the basket, he’s been getting the jumpers down, he’s been getting to the free-throw line, and he’s made everything look so easy. He shot 49.9% from the ground and threw the hexagram on his back when time called for it.
With the 2022-23 season kicking off in a few weeks, it’s now time for ESPN’s NARank to be among the top 100 players in the game and Embiid ranked fourth on the list:
ESPN on why Embiid went from #7 to #4
Embiid dominated last season, averaging 30.6 points per game to lead the league in scoring for the first time in his career – the first time he has topped the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 and for the first time center. He has averaged at least 30 points per game during the entire season since Moses Malone in 1981-82.
Embiid also averaged the few minutes for any player to win the scoring title with 33.8 per game, beating the 34.2 curry mark set in both 2016 and 2021. He has become a complete offensive player, capable of scoring at all levels. Easily all three, and it’s one of the most imposing edge protectors in the league.
ESPN question for Embiid in 2022-23 season
At this point in his career, the only question left for Embiid isn’t necessarily up to him: Can he make it through the post-season healthy?
To this point in his career, he’s had one dose of nasty injuries after another, including a broken face and a sprained thumb during the playoffs in Philadelphia in the spring. When Embiid is healthy and available, there may not be a more dominant player in the NBA today. Having played 68 games last season, Embiid is looking forward to a regular, healthy season this time around. If he does, the sky is the limit.
ESPN on why Embiid might be #1 at some point
After years of having to make up for the shortcomings of a flawed roster around him, this season is the first time Embiid has surrounded a team determined to improve his strengths. It will only increase Embiid’s chances of claiming the elusive Player of the Year award and lead Philadelphia to the missing deep playoff of his résumé.
If these things happen, he can jump to the top of this list.
The story originally appeared on Sixers Wire