Rumor has it that the star shooting guard will once again play for the team this coming Sunday in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There’s optimism Golden Warriors guard Klay Thompson will make his return vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, sources tell ESPN. A final decision is expected once the Warriors return from a two-game trip on Friday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 3, 2022
Warriors fans have been eager to see Thompson on the court again, and with good reason – he’s a terrific and sometimes unstoppable shooter who was averaging 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists before his injury.
He’s a wonderful addition to the team and with him back, the Warriors have a chance to be even better.
But should head coach Steve Kerr go easy on Thompson?
If so, what are the best ways to ease Thompson back into the Warriors line-up?
Let Him Find His Shot
Before stepping away with this ACL injury, Thompson had a field goal percentage of 46.7 and a three-point percentage of 40.2 – both impressive stats.
Thompson will get there again – maybe very soon – but there’s a chance it’ll take a while before he’s shooting like that.
It’s very important that the team understand that Thompson is coming back from two years away from professional basketball – it’s more than okay if he’s not landing shots like he used to right away.
These things take time and there may be a slew of games where Thompson seems rusty.
The Warriors shouldn’t freak out and they shouldn’t put undue pressure on Thompson.
The best way for him to perfect his shot is to practice, practice, practice.
But he needs to practice in games, against opponents, because that is the only way for him to find his shot again.
As Thompson returns, the Warriors shouldn’t expect blockbuster numbers right away.
Let Poole Make a Splash
Jordan Poole is having a terrific season with Golden State, posting an average of 18.1 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds a game.
JORDAN POOLE HAS 32 POINTS AND A BIG DUNK pic.twitter.com/glZ1uv5CCB
— DGC (@Itamar_17_10) January 4, 2022
He’s had a prominent role on the team with Thompson sidelined, starting in 28 of 30 games.
With Thompson returning, you can expect that Poole won’t be starting nearly as much – but he will be a pivotal part of Thompson’s entry into the league.
Poole is well aware that he is going to have his minutes minimized with Thompson back and he’s more than okay with that, telling The Athletic that he’s a “whatever-the-team-needs type of player.”
That’s a positive attitude from Poole and will help foster the right sort of environment for Thompson.
But Poole will still be needed a lot, especially to take the pressure and load off of Thompson’s shoulders.
Kerr will have to go to Poole a lot to ease Thompson into rotation.
Instead of overloading Thompson with too many minutes, Kerr should instead build his tolerance to being on the court.
When Thompson is resting and sitting on the bench, Kerr can use Poole.
This is great news because Poole has been doing so well.
That means that even when Thompson isn’t playing, the team will still be in great shape.
That’s very important because the Warriors have the chance to make it all the way this year and the last thing they want is to throw off their rhythm and chemistry right as Thompson returns.
By having realistic expectations and relying on Poole a lot, the Warriors are ready to welcome Thompson back with open arms.