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Embiid, Jokic Named NBA Players of the Month

The creme of the crop at center are both on pace for legendary statistical seasons behind a propellant month of January.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Centers Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets have been named the latest recipients of the NBA Player of the Month awards for the month of January.

Standing alone as the upper echelon of centers in the league today, Embiid and Jokic put up gaudy numbers, highlighted on Twitter by NBA Communications:

Embiid’s 34.9 points per game not only maintained his stature as the league leader in points per game (33.5 PPG), but also spearheaded an 11-3 record, ascension up the Eastern Conference standings, and placement atop the latest power rankings as of Jan. 30.

Embiid’s 33.5 PPG and counting is also No. 20 among the all-time individual scoring seasons in NBA history. His 53.4 percent shooting from the field is a career-high. He is on pace to join Kareem Abdul Jabbar (1972) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966) as the only players to average a double-double with 33 points or better, on 53 percent shooting or greater. Both legends won the MVP Award in those seasons.

Jokic has done nothing but average a triple-double en route to a 12-4 record in the month of January. He added to his stellar play with a game-winner against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 15 to cap off triple-double No. 88 for his career. After that, he produced four more triple-doubles in five games played, including a second game-winner on the month against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.

Jokic is currently averaging a triple-double on the season as well. Only Oscar Robertson (1962) and Russell Westbrook (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021) have accomplished the feat in NBA History. He would be the first center to do so. He is also only 0.2 assists shy of the league-leading Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers. In the event that he usurps the burgeoning Pacers’ star, he would join Wilt Chamberlain (1968) as the only centers to ever lead the league in that category.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard received honorable mention for the Western Conference award after averaging 28.0 points, 7.6 assists, and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 49.7% from the field and 46.9% from the three-point arc over 15 games in January.