The Golden State Warriors were never whole during the regular season, but they have been healthy during the 2022 NBA playoffs, and they have been gradually raising their game.
One of the reasons they haven’t been whole until recently has been Klay Thompson.
He suffered an ACL injury during the 2019 NBA Finals that cost him all of the next season, and a torn Achilles knocked him out of the 2020-21 campaign and the first half of this one.
Since returning at midseason, Thompson’s game, especially on the offensive end, has been up and down.
He has had some games where he looked dismal, but there have been other games where he has largely looked like his old, pre-2019 self.
Lately, those good games have been happening more frequently.
Draymond Green said Klay Thompson is back.
“I hope he doesn't believe that narrative because it kind of sounds like he does. To say I'm still working to get back, no the hell he not. He's back.” pic.twitter.com/vpWVzY1Mu4
— Mark Haynes (@markhaynesnba) May 19, 2022
Thompson Has Been Snakebit
When the Warriors lost the 2019 championship to the Toronto Raptors, it looked like it was curtains for their budding dynasty.
Thompson got injured in the last game of the Finals, and Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in the prior contest, then left as a free agent to join the Brooklyn Nets.
It rendered the 2019-20 season a gap year for Golden State, especially when Stephen Curry suffered a hand injury that kept him out for almost the entire season.
Thompson then suffered his Achilles injury just prior to the 2020-21 season, and the Warriors again failed to make the playoffs.
It was no coincidence that Thompson’s injuries corresponded with such dismal play from his team.
He has not only been one of the NBA’s truly elite shooters and one of the greatest ever but he has also been regarded as one of the better wing defenders in the game.
That is a whole lot of skill and talent to lose.
This regular season has been something of a transition period for the Warriors, as they integrated the young talent they had developed over the past couple of years, such as Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, with the returning Thompson.
The chemistry has taken a while to develop, especially with Curry and Draymond Green missing significant time due to injury.
It was widely expected that it would take a while for Thompson to start looking like his old self again, and it has come to pass.
While he shot an outstanding 45.6 percent from 3-point land in February, his shot came and went during the season.
He Seems To Be Getting His Sea Legs Back
But late in the regular season, Thompson started to turn it on.
He scored at least 33 points in four of his six final contests, which included a 36-point game in a win over the Utah Jazz and a 41-point explosion in a blowout against the New Orleans Pelicans to end the schedule.
Versus the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, the 6-foot-6 wing averaged 22.6 points a game on 50.6 percent overall shooting and 45.8 percent from downtown.
He struggled a bit early in the next series against the Memphis Grizzlies, but he came on strong in the last two games, which included a 30-point performance in the series-clincher in which he hit 8-of-14 3-pointers.
I am so happy for Klay Thompson
After 941 days without being able to do what he loves the most he stepped up big time tonight and proved to the doubters he has much left in the tank.
— Basketball Craze (@bball_craze) May 14, 2022
On Wednesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals versus the Dallas Mavericks, Thompson shot 7-of-13 from the field.
It won’t happen all at once, but perhaps some of Thompson’s best this year is still yet to come.