Klay Thompson was a vital part of three championship teams for the Golden State Warriors, but it’s been years since the star shooting guard has competed on an NBA court. Thompson tore his ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, and hasn’t played since. That’s only one of the devastating injuries he suffered in his attempt to return to action.
The Warriors knew they would be getting Thompson back at some point during the 2021-2022 season. They just didn’t know when. Thompson’s impending return looms over the rest of the championship picture as the Warriors have gotten off to the best start in the NBA.
Golden State won 18 of its first 20 games to start the year, and have been in first or second in the Western Conference ever since alongside the Phoenix Suns . Stephen Curry is the front-runner for MVP. Draymond Green is a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year. The depth has been improved, led by the veteran additions of Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr., and the development of Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II. The Phoenix Suns are the only team in the league playing at the Warriors’ level right now. It’s scary to think about what they could look like once Thompson returns.
Why has Thompson been out for so long? When is he coming back? What will the Warriors look like when he finally does return? Let’s go through the other Splash Brother’s long awaited return to the floor.
Klay Thompson’s torn ACL hung over the 2019 NBA Finals
The Warriors entered the 2019 NBA Finals as a heavy favorite against the Toronto Raptors, but injuries derailed their chance to three-peat. Kevin Durant had suffered a right calf injury in the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, and didn’t make his debut in the Finals until Game 5. KD started Game 5 on a scoring binge, but eventually suffered a torn Achilles that took him out for the series and all of the following season after he signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
Thompson’s injury happened in the third quart of Game 6 with the series on the line. Klay was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee. He hasn’t returned to the court since it happened on June 13, 2019.
Klay Thompson tore his Achilles while rehabbing his torn ACL
Thompson missed the entirety of the 2019-2020 season while rehabbing his torn ACL. Curry suffered a season-ending hand injury only five games into the season and missed the rest of the year. The Warriors finished 15-50 and “earned” the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft, where they selected center James Wiseman.
There was optimism that the Warriors could be a contender again in 2020-2021 with the Splash Brothers set to return. It never happened: On Nov. 18, 2020, Thompson tore his right Achilles during a workout. He suffered the injury while taking a pull-up jumper.
Klay Thompson, speaking to the media for the first time this season, on how his Achilles tear happened: "It happened on a two-dribble pull up jumpshot. A move I do 100 times a day."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 14, 2021
The Warriors finished 39-33 in 2020-2021, but lost to the Lakers and Grizzlies in the inaugural play-in tournament and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Thompson has been rehabbing his Achilles ever since.
When will Klay Thompson return for the Warriors?
The Warriors still don’t have a target date for Thompson’s return, but at this point it’s seemingly only a matter of weeks.
Thompson was cleared to fully practice with the Warriors on Nov. 23. He’s been playing 5-on-5. During an Instagram live chat on Dec. 3, Thompson said his return could be in a few weeks or a month.
On his Instagram live, Klay Thomson says he hopes to be back in the court in the next few weeks, maybe a month. “It’s hard to gauge.”— Kendra Andrews (@kendra__andrews) December 3, 2021
Thompson also posted this message to Warriors on Instagram regarding his return.
The Warriors faced the Phoenix Suns on Christmas day in the battle of the two best teams in the NBA so far. Thompson — who turns 32 years old in Feb. — was not back for that game.
The Warriors have recalled Klay Thompson from the G League
Thompson and James Wiseman are rejoining the Warriors after a rehab stint in the G League.
Warriors Recall Klay Thompson and James Wiseman from Santa Cruz pic.twitter.com/G8rAtn5qRX— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) December 16, 2021
Klay won’t be back for Christmas
Dec. 28 is now the earliest possible date he could return.
The Warriors do not plan for Klay Thompson to debut on either Dec. 20 or Dec. 23 home games, sources tell me and @anthonyVslater. Thompson won't come back on Christmas. So earliest possible return would be Dec. 28 -- with Thompson ramping up conditioning over next couple weeks.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 16, 2021
Klay Thompson return date: Warriors star is eyeing Jan. 9 debut
Klay Thompson is circling Sunday, Jan. 9 against the Cleveland Cavaliers as his debut for the season, according to Woj.
There’s optimism Golden Warriors guard Klay Thompson will make his return vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, sources tell ESPN. A final decision is expected once the Warriors return from a two-game trip on Friday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 3, 2022
The Warriors have been so good without Thompson, and they’re about to get even better.
Klay Thompson announces his return vs. Cavs on Sunday
Klay is back!