It’s Embiid vs. Doncic for scoring title in NBA’s final week


FOR the second time, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will have an international player as its scoring champion.

It will be the second time in as many years.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid—who was born in Cameroon—is on the cusp of becoming a back-to-back scoring champion, though he and Dallas’s Luka Doncic might take that race down to the wire.

Embiid opened up a bit of breathing room on Sunday, when he had 28 points in the 76ers’ loss to Milwaukee while Doncic—who is from Slovenia—scored 28 in the Mavericks’ overtime loss to Atlanta.

Embiid now has 2,110 points in 64 games for an average of 32.97 per game. Doncic has 2,096 points, also in 64 games for an average of 32.75 per game.

Philadelphia has four games remaining, Dallas has three. No NBA games were being played Monday, with the league taking off the day of the NCAA men’s Division I championship game.

Portland’s Damian Lillard is third in the scoring race at 32.2 points per game. He’ll finish at that average, because the Trail Blazers have shut him down for the rest of the season given that they are out of playoff contention.

Technically, Lillard could still move ahead of Embiid and Doncic, but it’s highly unlikely—even if Embiid and Doncic both play in a game and are held scoreless, their averages still wouldn’t dip below Lillard’s.

This could be the closest scoring race in more than a decade. The last time the scoring title was decided by less than a half-point per game was 2011-12, when Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant edged the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant by 0.17 points per game—Durant averaged 28.03, Bryant averaged 27.86.

Embiid held off Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo to lead the league in points per game last season to become the first official international scoring champion. Dominique Wilkins also won a scoring title; he was born in France but played for the US and is considered an American player.

(It should be noted that Embiid’s average of 30.6 points last season was barely ahead of LeBron James’s 30.3 per game, but James did not officially qualify for the NBA leaderboard because he did not appear in enough games.)

Should Embiid, Doncic and Lillard all finish with averages of at least 32 points per game, it’ll make NBA history.

There never has been a season where three players had such an average. There have been two players averaging at least 32 points on four previous occasions—Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain did it in 1960-61, 1961-62 and 1962-63; Bryant and Allen Iverson did it in 2005-06.

Image credits: AP

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