Klay Thompson has waited 16 months to make his NBA return.
The Warriors star was at the peak of his powers when he tore his ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Thompson missed all of last season as he rehabbed following surgery and finally was cleared for basketball activities in the spring.
Thompson recently participated in Warriors minicamp and looked great, according to coach Steve Kerr and his teammates. The three-time NBA champion just has one more hurdle to clear in his quest to return.
"Klay looks great. He's missing it for sure," president of basketball operations Bob Myers told 95.7 The Game on Wednesday. "I mean basketball is so big to him. I mean he grew up -- it's almost like he doesn't know what to do without basketball. Obviously, his dad played in the NBA and so he's born into it in some sense. He kind of needs it, it's like his breathing is playing basketball.
"So he's back at it. The final piece to his puzzle is live NBA action. Where that kind of speed and you can't replicate that speed even in camp. You need to experience and that's nothing against him or us, you just can't do that right now. You're going to need to do that in training camp, in the preseason if there is one or right into the season. That's the part he needs to get over. But he will and we're confident that he can. We just haven't been able to provide that and that's not available anywhere."
With Thompson missing the entire season and Steph Curry playing in only five games, the Warriors sunk to the bottom of the NBA, finishing at 15-50.
Their stay in the basement is expected to be temporary, though.
With a healthy Curry and Thompson back to go along with Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors should vault back into the thick of the Western Conference race.
Golden State now faces a crucial offseason in which Myers will try to surround Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins with the right role players to make them a true player for the NBA title.
The Warriors own the rights to the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and have a $17.2 million trade exception to use to add a key veteran piece.
The Los Angeles Lakers conquered the NBA bubble to win the NBA championship. But Thompson and the Warriors are coming, and they are hungry to prove their reign isn't over just yet.