He may be sidelined for the season, but there's no underestimating Klay Thompson's presence on the Warriors, as limited as it may be.
Thompson joined his teammates Tuesday, wearing a walking boot and sitting behind Golden State's bench in their 104-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers. It was the first time the five-time All-Star was able to sit with his team since suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in November. Although the Warriors would fall on the wrong end of the box score, there was no refuting the impact Thompson had on his teammates.
“It’s great. It’s just great," Warriors guard Damion Lee said to reporters on Wednesday. "Klay just has this energy around him that’s amazing. Klay is Klay. He’s one of the best people and teammates I’ve been around.”
"He doesn’t talk much, but when he talks, you’re on the ledge," Lee continued. "He always has a couple gems and a couple words of wisdom that he’s not afraid to share."
Head coach Steve Kerr has long advocated for Thompson to be around the team more, and Lee's testament is precisely why. Kerr believes that Thompson's mentorship to his young squad will be of value, especially as the team continues to adapt to their designated roles.
Forward Kevon Looney backed that up as well, noting to reporters after Tuesday's loss how impactful it was to the locker room to have Thompson there.
"It was great to see Klay again," Looney said. "He brings a different type of energy, a different type of joy to the locker room. It's great to have him out there to be a part of everything, just to see him."
"He seems to be in great spirits and looking good," Looney added. "It was just great to have him around. He's been one of the leaders and vocal people in our locker room. To have him back has been great."
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Thompson is set to start the next phase of his rehab process soon, with Kerr noting how "upbeat" the Splash Brother was. Thompson will begin running in the pool as early as next week. When he can, he'll likely continue to visit his team as often as possible.
"It's going to be good to have him back," forward Eric Paschall said Wednesday. "His energy, his presence is very missed. He's a great dude, great dude to have around."
For now, Thompson will stick to attending home games and practices only, meaning he will likely not attend Golden State's upcoming road trip to Denver and Los Angeles. The Warriors were additionally scheduled to play the Phoenix Suns on Friday, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 contract tracing and the league's health and safety protocols.
Still, knowing Thompson, it probably won't be long before we see him back behind the bench with his team.