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Joel Embiid officially becomes first center since Shaq to win scoring title

Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo emerging as clear favorites for the NBA MVP award as they continue to trade fantastic performances.

Joel Embiid has done something no center has done since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 — won the NBA scoring title.

When the Milwaukee Bucks chose to sit Giannis Antetokounmpo on Sunday, it became official: Embiid at 30.6 points per game wins the title.

Antetokounmpo at 29.9 points per game is officially second, but he wasn’t likely to catch Embiid even if he played. If Embiid sat out Sunday — he is officially questionable — Antetokounmpo would have had to score 77 points to pass the 76ers center. If Embiid had played, how much Antetokounmpo had to score to pass him would have changed depending on how much Embiid scored, however, it would have been about 50 points more than Embiid.

LeBron James, at 30.3 points per game, would have finished second in the scoring race but he did not play enough games to officially qualify. League rules say a player has to play in 58 games to qualify, LeBron (who is out for the final game) will finish with 56.

It’s the same story with Kevin Durant, who averaged 30.1 points a game but played in just 54 due to injuries.

Embiid’s scoring is a large part of his MVP case, he had to take that on more of that this year with Ben Simmons out for much of it. Embiid is in one of the tightest races in recent memory with Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic.