Even though the Golden State Warriors clinched the title, things didn’t always go well for some players. Klay Thompson can attest to that. After missing two seasons with an Achilles and an ACL injury, Thompson returned on January 10 and struggled to be consistent for the remainder of the season.
There would be some nights when he would get cold and couldn’t seem to buy a bucket, but then there would be nights when he would get hot and show a glimpse of old Thompson. In 32 games, Thompson shot 38.5% of three. It was the first time in his career that he didn’t shoot over 40% in a season.
Ironically, Thompson shot an identical 38.5% from perimeter in 22 games in the playoffs. He had his signature 6 Klay game against Memphis in Game 6 when he buried 8 for 14 threes for 30 points to shut out the Grizzlies.
Regardless of the struggles, Thompson has emerged from the season healthy and should be able to build on what he’s already shown over the past few months. History has shown that many players suffering from Achilles injuries were unable to play at the same level before the injury. The fact that Thompson isn’t a great shot creator, relying mostly on his shooting, should give him the benefit of the doubt as he returns to his pre-injury form.
Media pundits and fans alike threw Thompson under the bus. At numerous points during the playoffs, doubters raised their voices about whether Steve Kerr should bench Thompson when he was in a shootout. Some even thought the Warriors should go ahead and trade him with the emergence of Jordan Poole.
Longtime Lakers radio voice artist Mychal Thompson and Klay’s father recently went to 95.7 The Game’s Willard & Dibs to talk about the Warriors and his son. He contradicted any doubters that his son wasn’t playing well and alluded to his defense seeming to get back on form during the final.
“I thought last year he was fine, you guys missed his defense,” Mychal Thompson said. “The defense he played in the final, that’s the part I worried about the most. Will he be able to slide his feet defensively and stay in front of the boys like he has in the past? And he did. He played a great defense against two of the league’s top scorers [Jaylen] brown and [Jayson] Tatum, so if you can defend those two guys, stay in front of those two guys, that’s fine.”
Andrew Wiggins mostly matched Tatum and completely took away his confidence by the end of the series, but Thompson did an excellent job guarding Brown and keeping him at 43.1% shooting in the series – up from over 48% in the playoffs before the Final.
Mychal goes on and predicts his son will be better next season.
“So yes, Klay will be even better next year because he has an off-season to train [he’s] further away from his injury so he will be fine.
If his father is right and Thompson only gets better next season, it will be difficult for any other team to stop the Warriors from defending their title.
To top off the summer with even more hardware, Thompson won the Best Comeback Athlete award at the ESPYs in Los Angeles.
As previously mentioned, Thompson returned from two serious injuries to help the Warriors win their fourth title in six years.
“I wouldn’t be here without the Warriors organization. I mean, who pays a guy after he tears his cruciate ligament? This is outrageous,” Thompson said after receiving the award. “But they have faith in me, so I know you’re out there somewhere, Bob [Myers]. I appreciate you. Peter Guber as well and Joe [Lacob] got faith in us and, man, just amazing. And I also want to thank my parents.”
Thompson also gave a heartfelt thank you to the late Kobe Bryant and his family for motivating him through his rehab process. Vanessa, Kobe’s widow, thanked Thompson for the kind words on Instagram.