Thursday, December 8 2022

What Warriors fans can expect from Klay in 2022-23 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

After a 31-month stretch during which he tore his left ACL, underwent surgery, neared finished rehab, tore his right Achilles’ tendon, underwent another surgery and finished another rehab, Klay Thompson wanted only to get back on the court with the Warriors.

Restricted to watching the first 38 games, he returned in Game 39. Reacquainting himself with the NBA, he appeared in only 32 of Golden State’s 44 regular-season games. He was by turns terrific, ordinary and below his standard.

Klay shot at least 50 percent in 10 games but failed to reach 40 percent in 15, including four games in which he shot less than 30 percent.

Not until the playoffs, where he posted 100-percent attendance (22-of-22) in the more forgiving schedule, did he more often look like the Klay of old.

Consider that six-month journey a trial run. A dress rehearsal.

2022-23 Expectations

Insofar as 2022 is his first summer in four years not dominated by rehab and recovery, there is good reason to believe last season was but a warmup for what’s to come. Simply being able to play won’t satisfy Klay.

At 32, he wants to return to All-Star level.

“I’m looking forward to the summer,” Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area during the championship parade on June 20. “But I can’t wait for next season to start. I believe I will be so much better.”

It’s fair to anticipate that being true, and one of the reasons is that Thompson projects to be alongside Stephen Curry from Day 1 of training camp and surely on opening night. No need refamiliarize. They make each other better and will be out to prove they still represent the best backcourt in the league.

Klay’s shooting touch, featuring practically perfect form, will bless him into his 50s. Maybe his 60s. It will be sharper, so expect more pyrotechnics, more games in which he scorches the nets with a volley of 3-pointers, and fewer games in which he misses one of every three shots.

While sidelined two full seasons and half of another, Thompson took time to analyze his offense. He added nuance, making better use of his pump fake, which leads to easy points from the foul line. He also showed more of a desire to drive to the rim, another way to draw fouls and shoot free throws.

With age comes a willingness to adjust. Call it savvy.

With age, however, also come more challenges on defense. During Klay’s iron-man prime, he was the first line of defense against productive point guards, from Chris Paul to Russell Westbrook to James Harden. Now? Coach Steve Kerr must be selective regarding Klay’s defensive assignments.

Whereas it seems unfair to throw him at Grizzlies firebrand Ja Morant, it makes perfect sense to send Klay at big guards, such as Mavericks star Luka Doncic or Suns star Devin Booker. It might be worthwhile to see what Thompson can do with combo guards, too, such as John Wall of the Clippers and CJ McCollum of the Pelicans.

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There is one more aspect which will differ from the Klay of five years ago. His minutes should take a dip in the regular season, from the mid-30s to the low 30s. Though he won’t necessarily be prohibited from playing back-to-back nights, next season will be about managing minutes for all the veterans.

Is it too much to ask Klay to play as he did in 2017-18, his most efficient offensive season and worthy of All-Defensive team recognition? Yes, but don’t be surprised if he comes very close to those heights.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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