It's been over a year since Klay Thompson last took the floor in an NBA game, tearing his ACL in the Warriors' Game 6 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
With the Warriors resetting and sinking toward the bottom of the league, there was no need to rush Thompson back for a playoff push. So the five-time All-Star focused on his rehab and mostly stayed away from the team, as coach Steve Kerr knew the pain of not playing was killing Thompson.
“… I took a day (last month) and spent some time with him, watched him work out," Kerr told David Aldridge on The Athletic's "Hoops, Adjacent" podcast. "One of our assistant coaches came down for the week to train him. And so we got together. It was great to see him, because he loves the game so much. He loves to play. And he’s missed it so much. And he looked great. He was in really, really good shape, draining shots from all over like the Klay we all know and love. So he’s ready to go. It’s just that we don’t know when basketball will be played, but Klay will be ready.”
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Music to Warriors' fans ears.
With Thompson missing the entire season and Steph Curry missing all but five games with a broken hand, the Warriors were picked on by the rest of the NBA. Teams relished in pulverizing the former league bully who suddenly was without Curry, Thompson and Kevin Durant, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.
The Warriors enter the offseason armed with a top-five draft pick and a $17.2 million trade exception to finish reshaping their roster for what they hope is another dynastic run.
With the NBA season expected to begin in December, Thompson will have had 18 months between competitive games, and he, Curry and Draymond Green should be reenergized and ready to re-enter the title chase.
The 2019-20 season was a time for the Warriors to rest and recharge. Curry and Thompson had to watch from the bench as the Warriors suffered horrible loss after horrible loss.
But in the end, the Warriors are viewing the gap year as a positive.
"But this could be a blessing in disguise in terms of this next three, four years we want to have," Curry told reporters at the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe. "Get rested, get healthy. We'll obviously be watching Orlando and taking all that in, but come next season, whenever that starts, we'll be ready. We've had a long seven years, so it was nice to get a little refresh."
With Thompson healthy and the championship core refreshed, the Warriors should be back among the league's elite next season. And they'll be motivated to remind everyone they aren't done yet.