The return of Klay Thompson

By Nevan Shum

Staff Writer

On June 23, 2011, Klay Thompson was drafted by the National Basketball Association as an 11th pick recruit to the Golden State Warriors. Since his arrival, he has become a starting player for the Warriors, having career averages of 19.4 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 2.3 assists per game. This means that on each night that he plays, he is set to score about 20 points, receive the ball three to four times from missed shots, and pass the ball into a made shot about two times. 

With these stats and many other great players on his team, Thompson has had a very successful career, starting in 595 games out of the 632 games he has played in and starting in every game he has been a part of since his second year of being in the NBA. Not only was he an efficient player offensively, but he was also awarded accolades to prove his greatness. To list a few, he has been a five-time NBA All-Star, three-time NBA Champion, and was on the 2018-2019 All-Defensive Team.

Klay Thompson on the 2016 United States Olympic Basketball Team [PHOTO CREDIT: wikimedia.org]

During the 2018-2019 season, Thompson had great stats on both sides of the court, scoring an average of 21.5 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, and 2.4 assists per game. In that season he was one of the main factors that brought the Warriors to the playoffs, a seeded tournament at the end of the season. 

Throughout that tournament, the Warriors made it to the Finals, but unluckily in game six of a best of seven, Thompson had a possible career-ending injury, tearing his ACL on June 13, 2019 and losing both the game and series on the same day. Since then, he has undergone successful surgery and has progressed towards a full recovery. From his first steps since the injury to being able to shoot around on the court, he began to train with the Warriors team. 

Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors vs the Washington Warriors [PHOTO CREDIT: wikimedia.org]

After missing the 2019-2020 season to eagerly wanting to play in the 2020-2021 season, he suffered another career-damaging injury on November 18, 2020. In a season-ending injury, before he stepped foot on an NBA court, Thompson tore his Achilles tendon; this set him back mentally and physically. In an NBC interview, Thompson said, “It was hard, man. I can’t even lie to you, it was really really hard. Especially the second time around. The first time, I accepted it. Championship game, five-straight finals, stuff happens. The second time was just so unexpected. It was a week before the season. I was training so hard for like a year, year and a half actually.” Since his Achilles tendon tear, he has been expected to make a full recovery and has been working towards coming back to the Golden State Warriors’ court ever since. 

From an injury in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals to coming back into the NBA during this 2021-2022 season, Thompson has motivated himself to work back towards what he had at the peak of his career over the course of nearly three years. 

From the last game he played in 2019 to his first game of 2022, he has missed a total of 941 days and has been playing since his return on January 9, 2022. In his season debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thompson looked very good, scoring 17 points, rebounding three times, and having one assist. During that game, he proved to the whole NBA scene that he was back and he was ready to play his heart out against whatever team gets in their way. 

Thompson has been back for almost two months and his stats for this season are very impressive for someone who missed two consecutive seasons. With an average of scoring 17.1 points per game, rebounding 3.8 times per game, and getting 3 assists per game while under time limits for how long he can be on the court, he has become an even more efficient player.

Klay Thompson during the 2014 off-season [PHOTO CREDIT: flickr.com]

His return creates problems for all opposing teams. While on offense, he can consistently make shots, get the ball to his teammates, and set up plays, and on defense, he was known for being a great two-way player: he can do both offense and defense very well, stick to the man he’s guarding, and follow up on his teammates’ decisions. 

The greatest problem now in the NBA is a healthy Warriors roster and their ability to create opportunities for three-point shots. The Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter of all time, with Thompson, one of the best 3 and D players (someone who is a known 3-point shooter and can switch into a strong defensive player after losing possession of the ball), makes the Warriors offense unbeatable. The fact that Thompson has returned after two years of inactivity and has proven to be more efficient than how he used to play makes the Warriors roster as scary as it ever was. 

[FEATURED IMAGE (at the top of this post): Thank You Dubs Mural (PHOTO CREDIT: flickr.com)]

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