The Golden State Warriors are entering the 2021-22 season with a clean slate. The Warriors hold plenty of optimism directed toward NBA title contention. As Golden State takes the floor on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, here is why the team remains without star guard Klay Thompson.
Klay Thompson’s challenging journey through significant injuries
Since suffering a torn ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, it’s been nothing short of a tumultuous path for Thompson‘s quest to return to the court.
He missed the entire 2019-20 campaign due to the injury, despite optimistic hopes to return late in the campaign. The extended time off pushed the window for a comeback to the 2020-21 season, especially after the start date was pushed back to December due to the Orlando Bubble situation.
However, Thompson suffered a massive setback as he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout last November. It effectively sidelined him for a second straight year. Before the injuries, the star guard was one of the league’s most durable players.
He played in at least 73 regular-season games in each of his first seven seasons, including at least 80 appearances three times. The two significant injuries have cost him two years of his prime while contributing to keeping the Warriors out of NBA title contention.
As Golden State prepares for the season opener, Thompson sits on the outside looking in regarding a return date.
Why isn’t Klay Thompson playing for the Warriors?
After Thompson suffered the torn Achilles, the Warriors have maintained a measured cautionary approach with the star guard.
The organization has strayed away from providing a clear-cut timetable due to the sensitive nature of his injury. In August, ESPN‘s Ramona Shelburne reported that the 31-year-old is targeting a week before Christmas. However, the Warriors view it as an optimistic return date, more realistically aiming shortly after that.
Thompson is rehabbing from an injury that typically requires nine months to a year for a full recovery. He’s more than 11 months removed from when it occurred, putting him squarely in that timeframe.
A recent report emerged from Shams Charania of Stadium stating that the All-Star will be cleared for practice over the next month. Thompson must prove he can handle the physical nature of practicing against other players as he’s only participated in individual workouts and drills.
Considering all those factors, it points firmly toward the Warriors having their star guard back in the fold.
Warriors’ NBA title hopes hinge on the Splash Brothers
Despite Thompson holding an uncertain return date, the Warriors sit focused on vying for an NBA title.
Many media pundits, such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, believe that championship contention is realistic if the star guard returns to playing near the player he was before the injury. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry continues to air his firm belief that Golden State possesses a championship-caliber roster.
“Everybody says it, but we really believe that we’re a championship-caliber team,” Stephen Curry said via the San Francisco Chronicle. “We understand that we have experience, we have our core and we have our young guys who are extremely talented, with amazing upside and work ethic that hopefully can provide a lot for us this year. But the perfect recipe is to put all of that together where, if things go your way toward the end of the season, you’re confidently in that (championship) conversation.
“When we get into the playoffs, we know we’re a tough team to beat, and we just want to be in that conversation.”
The Warriors’ hopes are high, but there is a clear realization that it all depends on Thompson as the x-factor. Ultimately, only time will tell.