Although the Golden State Warriors won the title, it was not always sunshine and roses for some players. Klay Thompson can attest to that. After missing over two seasons with an Achilles and an ACL injury, Thompson returned on January 10 and had trouble staying consistent the rest of the season.
There would be some nights where he would go cold and couldn’t seem to buy a bucket, but then there would be nights where he would get hot and show glimpses of the old Thompson. In 32 games, Thompson shot 38.5% from three. It was the first time in his career that he failed to shoot above 40% in a season.
Ironically, Thompson shot an identical 38.5% from the perimeter in 22 games of the playoffs. He did have his signature Game 6 Klay against Memphis in Game 6 when he buried 8 for 14 threes for 30 points to help close out the Grizzlies.
Regardless of the struggles, Thompson made it out of the season healthy and should be able to build on what he has already shown over the past few months. History has shown a lot of players who suffer Achilles injuries have not been able to perform at the same level before the injury. The fact that Thompson is not much of a shot creator, but relies mostly on his shooting should give him the benefit of the doubt in returning to his pre-injury form.
Mychal Thompson Predicts Klay Will Be Even Better Next Season
Media pundits and fans alike threw Thompson under the bus. At numerous points during the playoffs, doubters would wonder aloud if Steve Kerr should bench Thompson when he was in a shooting funk. Some even thought the Warriors should move on and trade him with the emergence of Jordan Poole.
Longtime Lakers’ radio voice Mychal Thompson and father of Klay recently went on 95.7 The Game’s Willard & Dibs to talk about the Warriors and his son. He disagreed with all the doubters that his son was not playing well, and alluded to his defense seemingly returning to form during the Finals.
“I thought he was fine last year, you guys overlooked his defense,” Mychal Thompson said. “The defense he was playing in the Finals, that’s the part I was most concerned about, will he be able to slide his feet defensively and stay in front of guys the way he did in the past? And he did that. He played great defense against two of the best scorers in the league against [Jaylen] Brown and [Jayson] Tatum, so if you can defend those two guys, stay in front of those two guys, you’re fine.”
Andrew Wiggins matched up mostly with Tatum and completely zapped him of his confidence by the end of the series, but Thompson did a superb job guarding Brown, holding him to 43.1% shooting in the series—down from shooting over 48% in the playoffs before the Finals.
Mychal continues and predicts that his son will be better next season.
“So yeah, Klay’s going to be even better next year because he will have an offseason to train and [he’s] further way from his injury, so he’s going to be just fine.”
If his father is right and Thompson only gets better next season, it will be tough for any other team to stop the Warriors from defending their title.
Klay Thompson Wins Comeback Player of the Year
To cap off the summer with more hardware, Thompson won the Best Comeback Athlete award at the ESPYs in Los Angeles.
As previously mentioned, Thompson returned from two severe injuries to help the Warriors win their fourth title in six years.
“I would not be here without the Warriors organization. I mean, who pays a guy after tearing his ACL? That’s unheard of,” Thompson said after receiving the award. “But they have faith in me, so I know you’re out there somewhere, Bob [Myers]. I appreciate you. Peter Guber as well, and Joe [Lacob] have faith in us and, man, just incredible. And I would like to thank my parents as well.”
Thompson also gave a heartfelt appreciation to the late Kobe Bryant and his family for motivating him through his rehab process. Vanessa, Kobe’s widow, thanked Thompson for the kind words on Instagram.