Two years away from the court has undoubtedly left a void in Klay Thompson's soul.
But the Warriors star's return is nearing as his rehab has reached its final stage. That stage includes full contact scrimmages with the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Leandro Barbosa.
"It's so good having those guys back," Thompson said Tuesday when discussing his scrimmages with Barbosa and Pachulia. "We've got such great history together. Leandro, he moves like he could still play. Zaza is just a smart player. He might be a little slower but he can still set a mean screen and throw a great pass. Playing with [Moses Moody], [Jonathan Kuminga], [Juan Toscano-Anderson] and all these other guys who are young and lively bodies is preparing me well. It's the first time I played with them on Monday and that was just a milestone to play with my teammates."
After suffering two severe leg injuries, many players would be worried about potentially getting re-injured upon returning to the court.
As we know, Thompson is different. His desire to be a Warrior on the court again trumps all.
"I don't fear getting hurt again," Thompson said. "Because the last two times I did get hurt it was just such a freak accident. I hate to use the phrase 'can't wait' because I love to be present in my life but I cannot wait to play in front of our fans again. I really, really enjoy being a Warrior."
The exact date for Thompson's return is not yet known.
Head coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday that the five-time All-Star now needs to build up his stamina which obviously is not up to NBA standards after two years on the sidelines.
"Especially early when he's scrimmaging, he's knocking down shots," Kerr said Tuesday. "But you can see fatigue set in much quicker than we will see in a month, in two months. The endurance stuff is really the key. With endurance comes the rhythm of the shot. Obviously, Klay is a guy who, along with Steph, runs more miles than anybody in the NBA, you know, chasing ball-handlers, running off screens it's a lot of work. It's hard to shoot when you're tired. Hard to shoot when you don't have that endurance. So he's got a lot of build-up ahead before he can really get back to being himself."
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Thompson's impending return has energized a Warriors team that planned to vault back into title contention and has opened the season 15-2.
The Warriors have one of the NBA's best defenses and have been lethal on offense thanks to versatility and depth they didn't have last year
To Thompson, it's clear the Warriors are for real and he will return with one thing on his mind.
“We are now the type of team where it’s championship or bust,” Thompson said Tuesday. “And that’s a really cool position to be in. Not a lot of players get to experience that.
"We’re 15-2. That’s a great indicator. And our defense, which is top-three in the league, as well as our offense. And I’m not back yet. Think about that. Really think about that. I’m really more motivated than ever. I want a championship so bad. More than anything.”