Many people were eagerly awaiting the return of Thompson, who sat out a whopping 941 days because of ACL and Achilles injuries.
He returned to the floor Sunday night, re-entering a team and league that had drastically changed in his years away.
He was playing with a squad that hardly resembled the one he left and was contending against guys who weren’t even in the NBA when Thompson last competed.
Yet, Thompson didn’t miss a beat: when the game was done, the guard has racked up 17 points in 20 minutes and helped the Warriors take down the Cleveland Cavaliers to a raucous home crowd.
Is Thompson as good as he once was?
He Can Still Shoot
Not that this surprises anyone but Thompson can still shoot the basketball like the best of them.
He wasn’t afraid of firing off shots (he had 18 field goal attempts) and he landed a respectable number of them (seven).
His three-point percentage was 37.5 (three-of-eight) which is a tick down from his career average of 45.9 percent, but he sank some difficult shots on Sunday night so that’s an impressive number.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Thompson seemed able – and eager – to be physical.
He Attacks The Rim
The best moment of Thompson’s return had to be his speedy little dunk in the second quarter of the game, which got the crowd on their feet.
OH MY KLAY pic.twitter.com/MSBIYqSrGr
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 10, 2022
It didn’t look like someone who hadn’t played professional basketball in over two years.
From the speed to the aggression to the mean mug he gave at the end, Thompson was in fine form on the possession.
But that wasn’t the only time he showed his basketball prowess hasn’t waned.
Later in the game, Thompson proved that he is incredibly difficult to block.
Unless you stay literally right on top of him, Thompson will find a way to score – either through a deep two-or-three or a drive into the paint.
Here's Klay Thompson's hot start to the third quarter
-Pick-and-pop action with Curry, baseline jumper fading left
-Created separation with right foot (same as Achilles tear) for jumper over Markkanen in iso setting
-Vintage transition 3 pic.twitter.com/zcxjIrDQie
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 10, 2022
He has multiple ways to score and multiple ways to keep defenders on their toes.
This is such a huge benefit to having Thompson back.
Once again, the Warriors have another scorer who is dangerous from just about anywhere.
In just 20 minutes on the court, Thompson reminded us all why he’s such an important NBA player.
The question remains: Was Thompson as good on Sunday night as he was in the past?
An answer to that is complicated of course but the numbers say he pretty much was.
His career average for the regular season is 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and .5 blocks a game.
With a total of 17 points, three rebounds, and one block, he’s approaching those numbers.
Keep in mind, he only played for 20 minutes Sunday night and he typically averages 33 minutes a game.
Therefore, it stands to reason that the more time Thompson gets, the more points he will create.
Sunday night’s game was filled with great news for the Warriors: Stephen Curry was shooting as he used to and Thompson was playing just as well as people had hoped.
Thompson sent a message to the Western Conference and the rest of the NBA: look out.