After an unconventional year, the 2020 NBA playoffs are finally winding down. The Golden State Warriors, however, aren’t chasing another championship; the club struggled through a lost season and sunk to the bottom of the Western Conference. Despite those struggles, though, there is some good news coming out of the Bay Area: Klay Thompson has finally returned to the court.
After a recent practice at Golden State Warriors minicamp, Steve Kerr provided an update on Klay Thompson’s recovery efforts. Although the guard isn’t back to his old self just yet, Warriors fans still have plenty to be excited about.
Klay Thompson is a talented, albeit injured, star
The last time that we saw Klay Thompson in NBA action was Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Despite that layoff, the guard has previous proven himself to be one of the NBA’s top sharpshooters.
Thompson, the son of former NBA player Mychal, played his college ball at Washington State. While the guard arrived on campus as a knock-down shooter, he improved during his time in Pullman; by the time he left school to enter into the 2011 NBA draft, Klay had proven to be a legitimate scorer, capable of stepping up and taking his team to the next level.
On draft night, the Golden State Warriors Warriors selected Thompson with the 11th-overall pick. Although he only started 29 games as a rookie, the guard showed plenty of promise; before long, he and Steph Curry became a deadly one-two punch.
Together, the Splash Brothers led the Warriors to three NBA titles; during their chase for a fourth, however, injury struck. During Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Klay Thompson tore his ACL. He missed the entire 2020 campaign, as the Warriors floundered.
Steve Kerr dishes on Klay Thompson’s return to the court
While Klay Thompson spent the 2020 season recovering from his injury, the Golden State Warriors still had some lingering concerns over their guard; due to the coronavirus pandemic, they weren’t able to be as hands-on as usual. Since minicamp has convened, however, Steve Kerr and company are able to get up close and personal with their star guard.
On September 25, Thompson joined his teammates on the court for practice. While there were some limitations, it was undeniably a step in the right direction.
“It was great to have him out on the floor, in the locker room,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr explained, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “Just his presence alone gave us a jolt of energy and excitement. Practice went well. This is the first practice coming off an ACL injury and a year and a half absence so I didn’t expect him to be in top shape, in top form, and he was not, but he moved well and it’s a good first step.”
On September 28, Kerr provided a bit more context on Klay Thompson’s recovery. While the guard still isn’t ready to scrimmage, that isn’t a cause for concern; if anything, he sounds pretty close to full participation.
“So, we’re taking it really slow with Klay,” Kerr explained, according to a recording shared by Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He’s basically taking part in all of practice other than the scrimmage. We’re doing other drills that are live, we did some defensive drills, 5-on-5, more of a controlled scrimmage that he took part in.”
That might now sound like much, but it’s good news for Warriors fans
In isolation, taking part in most of practice doesn’t sound like anything to write home about. Given Klay Thompson’s importance to the Golden State Warriors, though, his progress is undeniably good news.
Last year, the Warriors fell off a cliff. Due to a perfect storm of circumstances—Thompson was out for the year, Steph Curry missed time with a broken hand, and some reliable veterans left town during the offseason—the club sunk to the bottom of the league standings. After years of chasing NBA championships, it was a rude awakening for everyone in the Bay Area.
The 2020-21 NBA season, however, should be a different story. The Warriors emerged from the draft lottery with the second-overall pick; whether they keep that selection or trade it away, they’ll still reap the rewards. Steph Curry returned to action before the coronavirus pandemic suspended all play; Klay Thompson, based on his progress reports, should be back to his old self sooner rather than later and will only benefit from the delayed start to the season.
2020, by any metric, didn’t go how any Golden State Warriors fan drew it up. With the Splash Brothers reunited and a second-overall pick in their pocket, however, the future is looking quite a bit brighter.