The dream of reeling in superstar point guard Damian Lillard via a blockbuster trade has dominated many headlines surrounding the Golden State Warriors this summer.
Aside from the Lillard trade talks, there has been plenty of exciting news to follow for Dub Nation, including the 2021 NBA Draft, following Stephen Curry’s every off-season move, and even trade rumors galore that don’t involve Dame.
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What’s arguably the most highly-anticipated item on the horizon though is the eventual return of Klay Thompson. Curry’s other half in the ultra-dominant “Splash Brothers” duo hasn’t seen the court for an actual game of importance since Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, when he tore his left ACL.
To say that the Dubs have missed the Los Angeles native on the court would be a massive understatement. Over the last two seasons – both shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Golden State has gone a combined 54-83.
Yes, there have been a host of other injuries and reasons as to why the Warriors have faltered each of the last two campaigns – namely Curry’s missed time in the 2019-2020 season and then James Wiseman’s bumpy rookie year and missed time as well – but the loss of Thompson has obviously been paramount. In some ways, he is as valuable to head coach Steve Kerr and crew as Chef Curry is, due to what he brings on the defensive end.
Kerr on Thompson Running Again: ‘It’s a Huge Psychological Boost’
Last week, Kerr said that Thompson was “right on schedule” and that there was “finally light at the end of the tunnel”. The coach went further in his assessment of the star player in an exclusive interview with Anthony Slater of The Athletic on Monday.
“Not full contact yet. But starting to really get movement on the court,” Kerr told Slater. “He’s still aways away from actually playing basketball in a 5-on-5 setting. But there’s a big step with the Achilles when you can actually start running again. It’s a huge psychological boost. The rest of the body gets going, you start feeling the soreness and aches and pains that actually feel good when you’ve been out for a while. He’s at that point.”
Kerr on Kenny Atkinson: ‘I Knew Right Away – That’s the Guy I Want’
During his interview with Slater, Kerr also discussed the hiring of assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, among other topics.
“I knew right away – that’s the guy I want,” Kerr said of the former Brooklyn Nets lead man. “There were some great candidates who were maybe a bit repetitive, people who were really impressive who maybe saw the game like us and didn’t offer enough of a different view. Kenny will liven up the discussion.”
Atkinson is one of a handful of new faces that will join Kerr on the Warriors’ bench next season, alongside returning assistant Mike Brown. Jarron Collins announced in June that he would be leaving the organization after a seven-year run with the club.
Other newcomers in the fall will include former Toronto Raptors assistant Jama Mahlalela, as well as Serbian basketball legend Dejan Milojević.