NBA Draft

Klay Thompson return: Warriors star making season debut Sunday vs. Cavs, excited to ‘prove to people who I am’

The rich are about to get richer. The Golden State Warriors, who already own the second-best record in the league and possess one of the leading MVP candidates in Stephen Curry and leading Defensive Player of the Year candidates in Draymond Green, are about to add one of the greatest shooters in history to their team. That shooter, of course, is Klay Thompson, who will make his long-anticipated return to NBA action Sunday vs. the Cavaliers, the Warriors star announced via Instagram on Saturday. 

After tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals, then tearing his Achilles tendon just prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, Thompson has not played in an NBA basketball game in over two-and-a-half calendar years. And for all their successes so far, the Warriors need him. 

Quietly, the Warriors have the 26th-ranked offense since Dec. 1, per Cleaning the Glass, and Stephen Curry is having the worst shooting season of his career at 38.8 percent from 3 and 42 percent from the field. 

There’s no telling how long it will take for Thompson to get his game legs back, let alone his complete basketball rhythm, and who knows if physically he’ll ever be quite the same, but we know he can shoot in his sleep. And as long as he can do that, defenses are not going to be able to sell out on Curry with relative impunity, not with Green at the helm of 4-on-3 advantages and Thompson one pass away waiting to fire. 

Thompson, for one, is intent on proving that he’s still his old self. Fueled by being left off the NBA 75 list last year, Thompson said in a recent interview that he’s out for “revenge.”

“I know myself. I know how good I am. I know the things I’ve done,” Thompson said. “It’s like — how many times do I have to do something that no one else has ever done before and get respect? Do I have to go score 50 in a quarter now? Like, what the hell? It’s whatever though, man. It’s over with. I’m going to use it as fuel.

“I’m excited to get out there and prove to people who I am,” Thompson continued. “I know they forgot because I’ve been out for two years, but I’ve never been hungrier seeing that stuff. Never been hungrier. And the best way at revenge is to win. Seriously.”

Steve Kerr has already said Thompson will be in the starting lineup immediately upon his return, which moves Jordan Poole to the sixth man role. Poole is a tailor-made scorer off the bench. 

This is going to be quite a moment when Thompson returns in front of his home fans.  He is beloved in the Bay Area and around the league as a whole. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more popular player among his NBA peers. Everyone, even the teams competing against Golden State for a title, is going to be happy to see Thompson back on the court. 

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