Warriors star Klay Thompson's goal is to return around opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season, but he knows getting back to his best will require some patience.
"I'll be honest with you guys -- I don't expect to come back and [play] balls to the wall, 38 minutes a night, guarding the best player, running around 100 screens," Thompson told reporters in a video conference Sunday, his first media availability since sustaining a torn Achilles in November.
"I'm gonna get to that point. I guarantee that. But I've talked to [Warriors director of sports medicine] Rick Celebrini about it a lot. It might be 20 minutes [a night] to start the season, 18 minutes [on a minutes] restriction. We'll see where I'm at. This is usually a 12-month process with the Achilles, and that'll take me to mid-November."
Thompson, 31, has not played in an NBA game since the Warriors lost Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals -- and that season's championship -- to the Toronto Raptors. The shooting guard sustained a torn ACL that night, but he stayed on the court long enough to knock down two free throws.
That perseverance powered Thompson through his rehab, and he was primed to return this season. But Thompson tore his Achilles on a two-dribble pull-up jumper on Nov. 18, hours before the Warriors selected center James Wiseman with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Thompson was an All-Star in each of his five seasons prior to sustaining the torn ACL, twice making the All-NBA Third Team and appearing on the All-Defensive Second Team in 2018-19. He won't hit that level when he plays his first game since June 13, 2019, but it won't be long until he does if Thompson has his way.
"I plan on being the All-NBA player I was," Thompson continued. "I will not settle for anything less. I'm too competitive to settle for a relegated role. Nah, that's not me. I'm too fiery just to come out there, give you 13 [points] a game on 20 minutes. ... I can't wait, man. I got a lot of pent-up energy, a lot of pent-up aggression. I just wanna play basketball. So, when that happens, it'll be not just a joyous day for me, but for everybody."
That day can't come soon enough for the Warriors.