Someone had to say it. And in no surprise at all, it was Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Klay Thompson is back. All the way back. After missing two-plus seasons to injury, returning this season, and once again becoming a vital part of the Warriors machine, Thompson is the same player that Green has played alongside for years.
Or so says Green. And I agree. Here’s part of what Green said and his complete statement via video, courtesy of KNBR’s Sam Hustis.
“The game he’s been playing on the floor, and impacting winning, has been the same Klay I’ve always battled with in the playoffs,” Green said. “I think it’s pretty funny, the narrative. And I hope he don’t believe that narrative. It kind of sounds like he does, to say ‘I’m still working to get back.’ No, the hell he’s not. He’s back.”
Green, with his trademark honesty, went on to say that just because Thompson misses some shots here and there, that doesn’t mean he’s still working his way back from injury. That’s who Thompson is.
Green recalled one of Thompson’s worst shooting slumps that was followed by one of his trademark offensive outbursts — Thompson famously set the single-game record for 3-pointers made as he broke out of an incredible shooting slump early in the 2018-19 season. He’s always been on the streaky side as a shooter. That’s facts.
So if he hits a cold spell now, it doesn’t mean it’s injury-related. Plus, as far as Thompson’s defense, I feel it’s near the level it once was. NBA pundits often cite a reduction in Thompson’s “side-to-side” movement, but athleticism has never been the root of Thompson’s greatness on defense. He has elite anticipation and effort, and he plays fantastic team defense to help his cause as an individual.
I loved seeing Green stick up for Thompson here. Especially because, as Green alluded to, Thompson might have been believing that he’s merely a fraction of his former self.
Though I don’t think Thompson has let it get to him too much at all. But Green made sure the negativity doesn’t seep further into Thompson’s consciousness. With the Warriors just seven victories away from yet another NBA title, it’s not the time to have any doubts whatsoever.
And of course, Green, always quick to share his opinion, has that handled, so the Warriors’ Big 3 of Thompson, Steph Curry, and Green can be on the same, confident page as they look for what could be the sweetest championship of their careers.