There’s been no official word yet on when exactly Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson will be making his long-awaited return to the hardwood. Right now, the smart money is on this Sunday, January 9, against the Cavaliers — and ticket listings for that game have ascended to ridiculous levels as a result.
However, Thompson isn’t the only megastar on the comeback trail after an extended absence.
Although their situations are very different — and Nets fans haven’t had to wait almost 1,000 days for the big return — Kyrie Irving was back in the starting lineup for Brooklyn on Wednesday. And just like Thompson, he’s being counted on to take the Nets to a new level.
Their respective returns beg the question: will it be Klay or Kyrie who makes the bigger difference for their team? For his part, ESPN commentator and 2008 NBA champion Kendrick Perkins has an answer.
Perkins Gets All Hot and Bothered Over Klay
On Tuesday’s episode of First Take, the panel tackled the Klay-Kyrie question as only they can. During the segment, Perkins served up an impassioned endorsement of Golden State’s flamethrower.
“I feel like we all forgot who the hell Klay Thompson really is! This guy is a top-75 greatest player of all time!” Perkins declared despite the fact that he missed that particular cut (officially).
As good as the Warriors have been this season, Perkins strongly believes that Thompson has something to offer the team that no other player without the Curry name on his back can.
“No disrespect to Jordan Poole, no disrespect to Andrew Wiggins — those guys are playing phenomenal basketball right now in the regular season. But when it matters the most, Klay Thompson has shown us time and time again that he’s capable of being the best player on the court,” Perkins opined.
“Like in 2016 in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City in an elimination game on the road. A Game 6 when he went for 19 in the fourth quarter when they was down eight going into the fourth.”
The Warriors went on to win that series in seven games, advancing to the Finals in the process.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Perkins: ‘We Don’t Show This Man Enough Respect’
While no one would say that Thompson doesn’t bring a lot to the table in terms of his own, individual production, Perkins noted that his ability to take some of the burden off of Stephen Curry’s shoulders may be just as important.
“See, the thing is that Klay Thompson takes so much pressure off of Steph Curry,” Perkins said. “Like, when we look over the last two weeks, teams have been keying in on Steph, he’s been struggling a little bit. Well, you can’t do that when Klay Thompson returns.”
Finally, he seemed to double down on his Top 75 comment.
“I think that we don’t show this man enough respect on how great of a shooter he is, how great of a player he is and what he brings to the game of basketball, especially the Golden State Warriors.”
- Warriors Expected to Make Final Decision on Breakout Guard’s Contract
- Warriors Guard Is NBA’s ‘Most Underappreciated Sixth Man’: Analyst
- Draymond Has Eye-Opening Take on Warriors’ Surprise Fast Start
- Warriors Coach Reveals What Klay’s Role Will Be Upon His Return