LOS ANGELES – If the Los Angeles Clippers are to have any hope of making a championship run this season, they’ll need everyone to pick up their play. Kawhi Leonard has picked up right where he left off before his ACL injury, and Sixers star Joel Embiid believes the best is yet to come.

Leonard has played in 22 games this season following a 15-month absence due to a torn left ACL. The first month and a half of the season were rough, as Leonard played just five of the Clippers’ first 24 games due to knee inflammation and a sprained ankle. Since his return from the sprain, Leonard has looked a lot more like himself.

Over the last five games, Leonard is averaging 28.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 threes per game on 50.5 percent shooting from the field and 43.5 percent from three. The problem over those last five games is that the Clippers have lost three of them, the latest to Joel Embiid and the Sixers.

Despite defeating Leonard and sweeping the Lakers/Clippers road trip, Joel Embiid believes Kawhi Leonard has another level he can take it to.

“He looks amazing,” Sixers’ Joel Embiid said of Kawhi Leonard. “I mentioned it last time we played them, you can count on him to turn into Michael Jordan in the playoffs. I think once you get to that level — I think he looks great now, but I think he’s gonna be even better once you get to the playoffs.”

High praise from Embiid, who is arguably a top three candidate for MVP of the league right now. Embiid, of course, has had nothing but great things to say about Kawhi Leonard since the two-time NBA Finals MVP eliminated his Sixers in the 2019 playoffs and went on to win the NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors.

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Finally healthy, Kawhi Leonard says he’s just happy to be on the court again and able to get consistent minutes

“I’m just happy that I’m playing,” Leonard said following Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets. “I’m getting the consistent minutes. As the season goes on, games go on, hopefully I can keep improving. The team can improve, really, most importantly. I’m still getting used to the minutes that I’m playing and to the NBA season grind. I’ve got the vet mind, but obviously I didn’t play last year. So yeah, body is still getting used to it, but I feel good. That’s the only thing that matters to me, and I just want to keep building this team.

There was even a funny moment during the 2021 postseason when Joel Embiid paused his postgame press conference to react to Kawhi Leonard’s dunk over Derrick Favors.

In 33 appearances this season, Joel Embiid is averaging 33.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.7 blocks per game for the Sixers on 53.6 percent shooting.