Klay Thompson is approaching his 12th season in the NBA, but it somehow feels like a fresh start.
After a miraculous return from a two-year hiatus turned into winning another championship, it’s becoming clear that Thompson’s unique comeback story is just beginning.
And Warriors coach Steve Kerr can’t wait for this next chapter.
“He had to overcome so much not only physically, but the devastation of being taken away from the game for two straight years. Really, two and a half,” Kerr told reporters on Thursday. “I was so impressed with his defense in the Finals. That was kind of an underrated part of that series as the series went on, he got better and better. He got more and more physical.
“[He] was able to stay in front of their big guns and just contribute so much to our defense that he looked like the old Klay to me in that regard. Because that's always been maybe what people don't notice as much because he's such a great shooter but when he's at his best, he's a brilliant two-way player. And so it was so much fun to see him return to that stage and have a lot of fun out there.”
After his highly-anticipated return on Jan. 9, Thompson went on to play in 32 regular-season games and then all 22 postseason battles that led to his fourth NBA title in eight years.
It was a rude awakening for anyone and everyone who snoozed on Thompson and the rest of the Warriors’ Big Three in Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
Thompson's averages were a reflection of his inconsistency, but it's what doesn't show on paper that is most promising for the 32-year-old who brought high-intensity defense and next-level energy to the hardwood every chance he got to step on it.
Kerr anticipates a full summer away from rehab is just what Thompson needed to refresh and refuel for the upcoming season.
"He’s had a great summer. I think just the peace of mind of now being back, playing at such a high level, winning a championship and then getting a summer without having to rehab the whole time," Kerr said. "He’s in a great place mentally, spiritually. He’s really happy. I think he’ll be -- I know he’ll be in a good place emotionally as he comes into camp but I think our training staff repeatedly has told him and told us over the last year that he’ll be better this year than he was the second half of last year just because of the nature of the injury and the rehab.
"So I expect him to have a big year and be more consistent. I thought he showed that he was still himself last year, but it was more sporadic. I think it will be more consistent this year. I think we’re all anticipating that."
After saying farewell to an unforgettable Bahamas and beer-chugging-filled summer, Thompson is more ready than ever to continue writing that story as the 2022-23 NBA season is right around the corner.
Get ready to turn the page.