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Klay Thompson going full-speed in G-League practice, hits first 18 shots

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 7: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball during warm ups before the game against the Houston Rockets on November 7, 2021 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

You could tell how much Klay Thompson wants to return the game when he sat there with a towel over his head on the bench long after the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers last week.

He’s getting closer to a return, having been assigned the Santa Cruz Warriors so he could go through some full-speed practices (NBA teams practice very little, focusing more on recovery/film sessions/individual work).

The good news for Warriors fans — and just fans of good basketball — is that Thompson looks good. According to Santa Cruz coach Seth Cooper, he went all out in practice, no stop, and hit his first 18 shots.

There is no return timeline set for Thompson (at least that the Warriors will make public), but the expectation is he is playing before Christmas (with a minutes limit to start). He has not played an NBA game since the 2019 NBA Finals, and in that time has suffered both a torn ACL and a ruptured Achilles.

The Warriors will not have Thompson in the lineup for a Tuesday night showdown against the other clear top team in the league early: The Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul, Devin Booker and company ride a 16-game winning streak — including beating both New York teams over the weekend — into a much anticipated early-season showdown in the Valley of the Sun.