Why Klay's 'biggest challenge' actually excites Kerr

/ by Dalton Johnson
Presented By Waiakea

Klay Thompson's patience has been tested enough over the last two and half years. For someone who enjoys a simple day hanging out with his dog Rocco or taking in the sun on his boat, he only has one mode on the court: Go. 

But the Warriors have to be smart about slowly ramping his minutes up now that he's back in the lineup. He played 19:55 in his season debut and 19:37 Tuesday night in the Warriors' 116-108 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Steve Kerr already has said Thompson will sit out either Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks or Friday against the Chicago Bulls. 

Thompson averaged 34 minutes per game the last season he played, and 33.1 minutes through his first eight seasons.

Rust is one thing. Waiting his turn now that he's back has been much tougher for Klay. 

"It's probably the biggest challenge for me, the minutes restriction," Thompson said. "I'm such a competitor, I want to play 35. But I got to dial it back and accept reality of what the last two years were like and you can't just take that much time off and jump into a 40-minute ballgame.

"That's exponential. I got to build that up. At times I'll go back to the bench frustrated, but I really trust our team and our performance team that has my back."

Thompson hopes his minutes increase in the next week or two. He reiterated how great he feels, while admitting his adrenaline wasn't as high in his first road game compared to in front of Warriors fans at Chase Center. 


"Hopefully soon, because I love to compete and I love to be out there," he said. 

That has to be music to Kerr's ears. Thompson didn't enter the fourth quarter until there was only 4:39 remaining in the game and the Warriors were down 103-99 with their offense falling stagnant. Kerr said that was the plan to keep Klay for the end of the game, despite chomping at the bit to get him in earlier.

He knows just how hard it is holding one of his best players back against one of the top teams in the Western Conference. 

"It's no secret that down the stretch we'll be wanting Steph and Klay shooting big shots," Kerr said. "[Andrew Wiggins] can also attack and get to the rim. But we're going to call a lot of plays for Klay and try and get the ball in hands, for sure."

As hard as juggling his minutes might be, Kerr couldn't be happier with how his shooting guard has looked in his first two games. Thompson scored 14 points, plus had three assists and three rebounds in the loss. His plus-17 in plus-minus was a team-high and he was the only starter with a positive plus-minus. 

"Klay was really good," Kerr said. "Plus-17 in his 19 and a half minutes. He looks quick, he looks agile, he looks strong. It's really exciting to see how he's playing this early after that long of a period of being off, and I look forward to being able to play him more minutes."

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Klay also looks forward to that day, but he's far from satisfied with his play as he continues to be nothing short of grateful.

"I expect greatness every time I step on the floor," Thompson said. "I'm not satisfied with 5-for-13 from the floor. I should have had at least eight makes tonight, but that's basketball.

"I'm happy I can just say that, and I look forward to getting better every week."

If this is the starting point for Klay, it'll only make life that much easier for Kerr and the rest of the Warriors as the season goes on.

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