On Nov. 18, the Golden State Warriors received devastating news.
Klay Thompson suffered a torn right Achilles tendon, an MRI confirmed today in Los Angeles. Thompson suffered the injury in a workout yesterday in Southern California. He is expected to miss the 2020-21 season. pic.twitter.com/w733cWawK6
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 19, 2020
This is yet another major injury for Thompson in little more than a year, as he suffered a torn ACL during the 2019 NBA Finals.
For the Warriors, this is a painful blow for a team that looked to rebound this year.
Thompson is a critical piece to this Warriors team.
One half of the “Splash Brothers” duo with Stephen Curry, he is one of the best two-way guards in the NBA.
In many ways, he has been the underrecognized hero of the Warriors’ dynasty.
His injury leaves the team with a big hole on the wing that will be difficult to replace.
While the road to success would’ve been difficult for the Warriors with Thompson, his injury reduces the team’s chances even further.
A Lost Presence
Since the 2014-15 season, Thompson has emerged as one of the best shooting guards in the league.
The 30-year-old has consistently been one of the league’s best from beyond the arc, with a 41.9% three-point percentage since entering the league.
In the past five seasons he has played, Thompson has averaged at least 20 PPG, making the All-Star Game each year.
His defense has steadily improved as well, becoming a member of the All-Defensive team in the 2017-18 season.
He also has the ability to heat up like few other players.
On January 24, 2015, Thompson set an NBA record for points scored in a quarter with 37.
He shot 13-13 in the quarter, and 9-9 from three-point range.
Klay Thompson sets an NBA RECORD w/ 37 Points in just ONE Quarter (50 Total)- It's madness at the Oracle! pic.twitter.com/FT67skYV7p
— NBA (@NBA) January 24, 2015
All of this makes Thompson one of the most dynamic guards in the league.
He is a key part of the Warriors’ success, as his presence was dearly missed last year.
Without Thompson or Curry, the Warriors were the worst team in the Western Conference.
Though Curry is back for this year, the absence of Thompson may still hold the team back.
Can the Warriors Contend Without Thompson?
Much of the hope Warriors fans had this season was washed away when Thompson went down.
While a championship would likely be out of reach, the team’s playoff outlook has dimmed.
In the competitive Western Conference, there is little room for error.
With no Thompson, teams can solely focus on Curry when matching up with the Warriors.
There is still a chance they can make some noise, however.
The addition of Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Phoenix Suns helps add another offensive producer.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is officially headed to The Bay 😤
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 20, 2020
A bigger role on the Warriors may give Oubre the opportunity to shine.
Andrew Wiggins’ role has also taken a new importance.
Since entering the league, Wiggins has averaged nearly 20 PPG.
For the Warriors to succeed, he will have to take the next step and increase his production further.
Even though they give the team scoring, the problem with Oubre and Wiggins is their three-point shooting.
Neither offer the same threat as Thompson on the perimeter.
Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre are probably going to take a combined ~13ish 3s per game. One of my questions that’ll define the Warriors’ season: Can they hit a combined 35% of them? https://t.co/3fcOyweajI
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 27, 2020
However, it will be interesting to see how the Warriors plan their offense without having one of the league’s best three-point shooters.
Draft pick James Wiseman will also serve as a presence in the paint.
Any way you look at it, the Warriors will have a better team than last year.
While the loss of Thompson hurts the team’s chances to make a deep playoff run, it doesn’t completely erase them.
With Oubre and Wiggins shouldering a greater load, expect the Warriors to still be competitive if they can step up.
If they put it all together, with each player having great seasons, they could become a contender in the Western Conference.