Warriors Insider Warns of Overblown Expectations on Klay Thompson Return

Klay Thompson, Warriors

Getty Klay Thompson, Warriors

It is a moment Warriors fans will relish. There has been ample excitement, plenty of build-up and, with Golden State lingering around the top of the NBA at 6-1 heading into Friday’s game against the Pelicans, the anticipation has been ramped up even higher.

Whenever star guard Klay Thompson finally returns to the Golden State lineup, after what will be two-and-a-half years away from the game, the Warriors faithful will be ready to explode.

Even Steve Kerr, speaking on the TK Show in September, got a little pumped.

“The light is finally at the end of the tunnel, and I keep thinking about that moment where he steps out onto (the floor) at [Chase Center] for the first time, it’s going to be so emotional,” Kerr said.

KLAY THOMPSON Shooting Workout at Warriors Practice (October 2021)KLAY THOMPSON Shooting Workout at Warriors Practice (October 2021)2021-10-20T21:17:33Z

But then, that might be a problem in itself, as NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke pointed out recently.

In her mailbag, Burke was asked, “Do you think there’s too much expectation being put on the return of Klay to be at 100% right away and how can the expectations be kept at bay (in the bay)?”

Her answer on the expectation side should be a bucket of cold water on those heated up for Thompson’s return, which is still uncertain.

“Yes I do,” Burke wrote. “Klay felt like he was playing the best basketball of his life in the 2019 NBA Finals, and it will be impossible to return to that level instantly after rehabbing for two years.”

Thompson Has Not Played in 2-&-a-Half Years

Thompson, of course, is coming back from two major injuries. He suffered a torn ACL in his knee in Game 6 of those NBA Finals in 2019, when the Warriors lost to the Raptors. In November of 2020, as Thompson was preparing to return to action, he suffered another injury, tearing his Achilles tendon in his right leg.

It is difficult enough to recover from one of those injuries, but coming back from two makes things all the more difficult. And the fact that Thompson has been away for long is almost unprecedented in the annals of NBA injury recovery history.

Klay Thompson Returns to Court in Epic Fashion After Knee Injury (NBA Finals Game 6)Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson returned to the court in epic fashion to sink two free throws after suffering a knee injury during Game 6 of the NBA finals vs. the Toronto Raptors. He would later leave and not return. Subscribe: youtube.com/user/BleacherReport?sub_confirmation=1 Follow on IG: instagram.com/f/bleacherreport Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/bleacherreport Like us on…2019-06-14T04:34:54Z

Thompson was already well-established as one of the best two-way threats in the game when he was injured. He has averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his eight active seasons, making 41.9% of his 3-pointers. He had scored 30 points in what wound up being the finale of the 2019 Finals, in which he averaged 26.0 points, made 54.1% of his shots and 58.5% of his 3-pointers.

For Klay ‘Patience Is Difficult When You’re Excited’

Burke raises the alarm on the notion that Warriors fans—and perhaps Thompson himself—will expect that kind of production the moment he hits the floor. She wrote:

Patience is difficult when you’re excited, and that goes for fans, media, and Klay himself. We know how good Klay is. At the root of these high expectations is the hope to see an awesome player return to his peak self, and be the impactful piece that puts the Warriors back to contention. I get it. But there’s too much riding on Klay’s shoulders if he’s expected to be his peak self after, say, only three games back.

As it stands, we still don’t quite know when the Warriors will have Thompson back at practice in full. Coach Steve Kerr called having Thompson back, “imminent” this week, but there is no telling how imminent that is. The expectation, though, is that Thompson could be back sometime in mid-December, or later.

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