NBA news: Joel Embiid becomes first center since Shaquille O'Neal to win scoring title

Philadelphia's Joel Embiid will become the first center to win the NBA scoring title since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999/00.

Through 81 games of the NBA season, Embiid has averaged 30.6 points on nearly 50% shooting to go along with 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

While Embiid is the first center since Shaq to accomplish this feat, his game more or less mirrors the great Hakeem Olajuwon, with obvious similarities in their footwork in the post, their ability to do the "dream shake," and how deadly their hookshot is.

What Embiid had in his arsenal that Hakeem and Shaq didn't have though, is the ability to hit the 3-pointer, which renders himself as essentially unguardable.

During the early portion of Embiid's career, many wondered if he'd ever actually be able to step foot on an NBA floor, after he missed the first two seasons of his career with a broken bone in his foot.

However, Embiid was finally able to take the floor during his third season in the league and wasted no time in slotting in, as he immediately established himself as one of the most promising young stars in the league.

Case for MVP?

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Embiid is battling it out with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic for the MVP award, with the Cameroonian the only one out of those three to never win the award.

Embiid has a pretty strong case, to say the least, when you look at his numbers. But his case becomes even stronger when you factor in that he's had to carry the load without Ben Simmons all the way up to the trade deadline and James Harden having trouble acclimating to his new team.

The Simmons saga is no small part of his case either, as the distractions of having to answer questions about him every day and losing a player capable of taking a significant load off of Embiid's shoulders.

Embiid is also serving as the anchor for a top 10 defense in the NBA, making a concerted effort to contest shots and closing open driving lanes using his towering presence.

It's unheard of for a big man to be this multifaceted and dominant as a scorer, which Embiid has proven to be. He can blow past defenders on drives to the rim, dominate you on post-up opportunities and knock down mid-range and 3-point shot attempts whenever the defense dares him to shoot.

It goes a long way when a franchise can build their team around a big man who can dominate this way on both ends of the floor.

The next thing the Sixers need to do is surround him with a better team because they have a legitimate MVP candidate for years to come, and with the right team surrounding Embiid, they can win multiple championships.

READ MORE: NBA news: Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota Timberwolves rises in MVP rankings

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