Klay Thompson's return is on the horizon. And we're not talking in the far-off distance. At this point, it's so close the Warriors can practically reach out and feel their team becoming whole.
Thompson has progressed through his Achilles rehab and is just working on getting his conditioning back. The Warriors getting out to a 27-7 start has given the five-time All-Star the necessary runway to make sure he is the player they need him to be when he returns. Thompson scrimmaged with the Warriors on Thursday, sharing the court with Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Andre Iguodala for the first time during his rehab.
Thompson spoke to reporters Friday during shootaround and said he is on the verge of making his triumphant return.
"I feel very close and I look forward to playing soon," Thompson said Friday.
For Thompson, the biggest obstacle in his return is not his shot, which will never leave him, but the technical parts of an NBA game.
"The shot feels great," Thompson said. "It always feels great. The shot I'm never worried about. The hardest part when you come back from a long layoff is the timing, the rhythm of the game and the conditioning aspect. Even when I do come back to play, whenever that is, it's going to be on a minutes restriction and it's going to build throughout the whole season and hopefully peak when it's winning time. Which is all the time, but when it really, really matters."
The shot was never going to be a question with Thompson. However, some have wondered when or if he would be able to be the All-Star-caliber defender he once was after suffering a torn Achilles. Thompson is feeling good on that end, and expects to get back to that level in no time.
"Man, I feel really good," Thompson said. "Honestly, I give myself a ton of credit, the training staff a ton of credit -- honestly, there are times throughout the lengthy process that you might doubt yourself if you're ever going to be the same type of player. Honestly, when I come back, I feel like myself, I feel great and I just feel like it's going to take a few days, maybe a few weeks to be an All-Star again."
As for the when, Thompson doesn't have a target return date at the moment, instead relying on Warriors director of sports medicine Rick Celebrini to tell him when it's time to make a return that is almost 1,000 days in the making.