How will Klay Thompson’s comeback impact the Warriors?

Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is set to return in the coming days. Photo from NBC Sports.

The Klay Thompson return date only confirms one thing: The rich always get richer. I mean, this Golden State Warriors squad has been nearly unbeatable, and now they get to add one of the greatest shooters of all time? That’s just not fair.

The Warriors sit at a 29-7 record, the best in the league. They also have the best defense at 101.5 points allowed per game, the sixth-best offense at 111.3 points scored, and the second-best net rating at +9.9. To put in context how impressive they’ve been thus far, their over/under for wins at the beginning of the season was set at 48.5.

To make things even better for the Dubs, both James Wiseman and Klay Thompson have yet to set foot on the hardwood. So, with Klay Thompson’s return news, Warriors fans are already thinking NBA Championship.

Klay Thompson return date

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First things first: Klay Thompson’s return date. Thompson is expected to be back on the court for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll instantly go back to his usual self or that he’ll play without any limitations.

Thompson is likely to be on a minutes restriction at first and he’s not likely to play in back-to-back games, at least until the final stretch of the season. Then again, if they’ve been this good without him, how dominant can the Warriors rotation with Klay Thompson be? Let’s take a look.

How does Klay’s comeback impact the Warriors?

For starters, let’s get any speculation out of the way. Even if Gary Payton II and Jordan Poole have excelled, Steve Kerr has already affirmed that Klay will be on the starting lineup. He said it last year with Kelly Oubre and set it again a couple of days ago:

“Klay’s gonna start when he comes back,” Kerr said, per Sports Illustrated. “I’m not gonna mess around, bring him off the bench for a period of time, I’m not doing any of that. He’s gonna start.”


Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Dubs’ starting five: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney.

Then, you’ve got Juan Toscano-Anderson, Andre Iguodala, Gary Payton II, Jordan Poole, James Wiseman (soon), Nemanja Bjelica, and Otto Porter Jr. coming off the bench. That was a championship-caliber core before Thompson’s return and it’s an even bigger championship-caliber core with him.

The Warriors could stagger Klay and Iguodala as neither of them will likely play in back-to-backs. That way, they’d always have at least one elite defender available. Jordan Poole has excelled on the bench and as a starter, so he’s going to be in for big minutes regardless of if he starts or not.

But more than that, having Thompson back will allow Steve Kerr to unleash his new version of ‘The Hamptons 5’. Green could slide to the five with either Iguodala or Wiggins playing at the four, while Curry, Thompson, and Poole wreak havoc from the perimeter.

It’s unrealistic to expect that Klay will be at full strength right out of the gate. He’ll need a couple of weeks to get his legs back under him and get used to the speed of the game again. There will be some off nights when his shot isn’t falling.

Then again, if someone can provide a massive boost for an already scary team, that’s him. He’s an elite backcourt defender and perhaps the second-greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game. So yeah, the rich just got way, way richer.

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