Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid had one of the most extraordinary seasons in the 2021-22 season. The big fella averaged 30.6 points to become the first big man to lead the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and the first big man to average 30 in a season since Moses Malone in 1982.
Embiid was able to do it all out on the floor. He was taking defenders off the dribble, he was getting to the basket, he was knocking down jumpers, he was getting to the free-throw line, and he made it all look so easy. He shot 49.9% from the floor and he threw the Sixers on his back when the time called for it.
As the 2022-23 season gets set to begin in a few weeks, now is the time for ESPN’s NBARank of the top 100 players in the game and Embiid came in ranked fourth on the list:
ESPN on why Embiid rose from No. 7 to No. 4
Embiid was dominant last season, averaging 30.6 points per game to lead the league in scoring for the first time in his career — the first time a center led the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 and the first time a center had averaged at least 30 points per game across an entire season since Moses Malone in 1981-82.
Embiid also averaged the fewest minutes of any player to win the scoring title with 33.8 per game, beating the 34.2 mark Curry set in both 2016 and 2021. He has become a complete player offensively, able to score at all three levels with ease, and is one of the league’s most imposing rim protectors.
ESPN’s question for Embiid in the 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 a postseason healthy?
To this point in his career, he has had one dose of bad injury luck after another, including a facial fracture and thumb sprain during Philadelphia’s playoff run in the spring. When Embiid is healthy and available, there might not be a more dominant player in the NBA today. After playing a career-high 68 games last season, Embiid is eyeing both a healthy regular season and playoffs this time around. If he does, the sky’s the limit.
ESPN on why Embiid could be No. 1 at some point
After years of having to make up for the deficiencies of a flawed roster around him, this season is the first time Embiid will be surrounded by a team built to optimize his strengths. That will only increase Embiid’s chances of claiming that elusive MVP award and leading Philadelphia to the deep playoff run missing from his résumé.
If those things happen, he could vault to the top of this list.
Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire