MVP Race: Joel Embiid takes top spot

Kawhi Leonard has bounced back impressively since missing time with a leg injury, averaging 30.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the three games since his return, a trio of contests that saw the Los Angeles Clippers go 2-1.

The first victory was extremely noteworthy, too, as Leonard led Los Angeles to a four-point win over the hottest team in the league, the Utah Jazz, on Friday night, while the defeat wasn’t embarrassing by any means, as Leonard nearly forced overtime against the equally in-form Brooklyn Nets before an egregious flop by fellow MVP candidate James Harden ended the game.

Leonard discussed the call after the game (via ESPN):

At the start of the drive, Leonard appeared to try to shake Harden from grabbing his left arm. Then as Leonard gathered and went up for the layup, his left forearm made contact with Harden’s torso, and the referees called the foul. “My take from it is if we gonna pretty much play bully ball at the end of the game, let both sides play it,” Leonard said. “But they didn’t call it, so good defense. I got grabbed early, but like I said, no call, so great defense.”

Although the NBA deemed the call correct the next day, there’s something to be said in that fans don’t want to see a game featuring four of the best players in the league end on a pretty soft whistle, considering how physical the game had been to that point.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The Clippers are very legit this season, as their +6.8 net rating ranks third league-wide, and their two-way monster Leonard has been the biggest reason why. That’s why he’s entered the Top 5 of these rankings this week.

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