Zion Williamson still had hopes that he would be selected by the Knicks in the draft, Kwai Leonard and Paul George were not players of the Clippers, the Israeli reserve team dreamed of winning the European Championship here in Tel Aviv and “Corona” was just a beer or footballer name. Mexican.So, in a nutshell, our world looks like last time Clay Thompson played basketball.
On June 13, 2019, the face of the NBA changed. When Toronto led 2: 3 over Golden State in the Finals Series, Thompson was required to do what he does best – to rise in Game 6, which is exactly what he did. The Warriors sniper stood at 30 points in the third quarter, and when Game 7 was seen around the corner and the Warriors led 80:83, Thompson landed badly on the leg and tore the crossbar.
The faces at Oracle Arena radiated utter shock, and the crushed fans, who had already lost Kevin Durant in the previous game, saw their lineage crumble. Thompson went down to the locker room, and despite the serious injury returned to the parquet to be punctual from the line and raise his teammates to plus 5 about 14 minutes to go.
Last minute on the hardwood. Thompson in the 2019 final (Getty)
We all know how that final ended, but what we do not know is what would have happened if Thompson had stayed healthy and not torn the crossbar in the final / Achilles before last season. Quite a realistic option: Durant does not leave for Brooklyn, the Knicks again the best team in New York, Golden State with championships in 2019, 2020 and 2021 (six championships in seven years), LeBron James stuck on three rings and more and more consequences that can be linked to the event Who spent some of the fun in the NBA.
But thankfully this fun will be back this coming December. The Warriors plan to get Thompson back in the Christmas area, and we’ll be back to writing the deadliest English-language duo – Splash Brothers. Even if Steph Kerry did not pick up the title in the end (finishing in eighth place does not help), the big star provided an MVP season last year. With a career high of 32 points and 5.3 threes per game on average, sometimes Kerry made us forget that next to him is usually the only man in the world who can beat him in the positives.
Every basketball fan will get excited when he sees the Splash Brothers in action again, but alongside the enthusiasm the question must be raised – what Thompson will we get after a two-and-a-half year absence? And for that, we will try to answer.
“My best fitness before me”
Fans, the media and the medical staff can talk endlessly about Thompson’s comeback, and try to analyze how he will return to the floor, but in the end only he knows how he feels physically and mentally (the mental aspect is no less important). So before we take an in-depth look at the situation in San Francisco, let’s see what the number 11 has to say. “We fought this season with quite a few obstacles, it will pay off when we run for the championship next season,” he said after the relegation to Memphis in a play-in.
“In the last two years I have watched a lot of basketball games and very quickly realized that this is not my specialty. I have never been so hungry and I sincerely believe that my best fitness is still ahead of me. We have not finished anything, I promise you.” Even when he is away from the field, Thompson constantly makes sure to be close to the fans on social media, in order to remind them that he has not gone anywhere.
Steve Kerr said yesterday (Friday): “I see Clay training every day and I can say he is in good shape, he is happy and excited to be back playing. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I keep thinking about the moment he first steps on the parquet in Chase “Chin, it will be exciting. You can see the enthusiasm in him through his walk, the comeback is approaching.”
One reason for optimism and one reason for concern
No need to wait until December to declare that Thompson is still one of the best scenes in the world. As long as Steph and Green play next to him, and the Warriors’ style of play remains the same, Clay will get plenty of free throws to end with the ball inside the net. Rest assured that the handle has not been lost, because it is still the best ‘catch and shoot’ sling in history.
Since 2013/14, there have been 11 different cases in which a player has scored 217+ catches and shots in one season (including the playoffs) – Thompson is listed on six of them (ie on two). Thompson broke the all-time record for the season with 322 threes from catch on 15/16. And in his case, we are not just talking about quantity, but also quality. From 2015 to 2019 Clay also led the league in a number of threes in the catch and shot, and also in the percentages in which he sniped them – 44%.
We already know that Thompson is a historic sniper who will continue to receive free looks after movement without a ball. And when he gets the same looks in front of the ring, how many of you are willing to bet against him? Since Clay can change a team even without the constant need for a ball in hands or athletic abilities, it can be said that at least in this part of the field, injuries should not affect.
But as Sacramento does not know – the basketball court has two parts, and on that side of the court there is no small question mark. Thompson is considered one of the best guards in the league (selected in 2019 for the second defensive five), and here he will already need the body not to betray him. If the injuries haunt Clay, the retreat will be reflected first and foremost in the defense. Avery Bradley was signed to stop the bleeding until the rehearsal (and possibly after) and Andre Iguodala is also expected to contribute from his experience. Even if Thompson is no longer the guard he once was, Kerr is set to get off-defense with two veterans, Andrew Wiggins, Juan Tuscany Anderson and Jordan Paul making a leap forward as a guard.
Will have to prove himself on defense (Getty)
Not everyone is Durant: How did other players recover from Thompson’s injuries?
Let’s start with some examples of players who suffered a cruciate ligament rupture:
– Derek Rose. The former MVP has never returned to the level he should have been without the injuries, but even today at the age of 32 he is making a dent in the Knicks with about 15 points per game.
– Bernard King. The Knicks’ current player to the past player. King missed over two years because of this injury, but was eventually re-elected to the Allstars six years after the original injury.
– Byron Davis. Suffered from that injury for the first time in college, which did not stop him from recording a great NBA career, but the second time the serious injury led to the end of his career.
– Kyle Laurie. Tore the cross in front of the colleges, came back in less than four months and never experienced it again in the NBA.
– Jabari Parker. Whoever was selected second in the 2014 draft was marked as the face of the league, but he tore the cross twice and today is a bench player in Boston.
– Christopher Forzingis. At the beginning of 2017/18 Forzingis looked like a legitimate candidate for MVP, but in February 2018 he joined this list and since then he is soft, scared and mostly suffering from recurring injuries. Without the injury, Dallas could still have taken the championship last season.
Number of players who suffered from an Achilles tendon rupture:
– Kevin Durant. While he may not be the healthiest player in the NBA, he is certainly the deadliest scorer this league has to offer. Despite a year-and-a-half absence, Durant returned by storm, delivering games to the Pantheon in the playoffs in a Brooklyn uniform and leading the U.S. to gold in Tokyo 2020.
– Demarcus Cousins. Until just four years ago Cousins was the best chin in the world, but that changed with the brutal injury. Playing an average of 25 points and 13 rebounds per game, Cousins became a bench player at 31.
– Brandon Jennings. Just this week Mr. “Bucks in 6” claimed that if he had not ripped off Achilles, he would have been selected to the All-Star. Jennings turned a 15-19 point game into a game that has a hard time scratching double digits.
– Kobe Bryant. Before the injury, Kobi scored an average of 27.3 points in 46%, followed by 19 points in 37%. Bryant tore his Achilles at 34 when the climax was behind him, and the injury was actually the beginning of the end of his career.
– John Wall. The Houston guard looking for a new home has managed to keep his stock as high as possible, even though he missed two years. In his return season last year he averaged 20.6 points per game alongside 6.9 assists (almost identical to those he had in Washington before the injury).
– Rudy Gay. At the age of 30 Gay tore his Achilles, which caused his productivity to drop (he averaged almost 20 per game), but even today he has a place in the league as a not-so-bad rotation player at all who scores in double digits. Last month he joined Utah.
* It should be noted that two and a half years off the field is one of the longest absences we have ever seen in the NBA
The best scorer in the league remains, despite the injury. Durant (getty)
What will Golden State do if Thompson does not recover well from the injury?
Thompson is so important to Golden State that he could be the difference between another playoff season and a championship. Kerr’s dream plan depends on Clay, and if it goes through Kerry will be named MVP, Thompson will forget the injuries, Green will continue to do the little things that win big games and Wiggins will get vaccinated. Celebrations in San Francisco, the great dynasty since Michael Jordan’s Chicago is with us again. But you know what it’s like, every good program needs a plan B.
Thompson is in charge of what the final episode of the Golden State dynasty will look like in its final years (yet he and Green will be 32 and Kerry 34 this season), and if he does not meet the task, general manager Bob Myers will have no choice but to shuffle his cards .
Kerry and the Warriors do not have time for BATMs (like the fact that Wiggins can not play home games until he is vaccinated, for example), but luckily they have enough assets through which they can bet on the whole pot. Trade young players like Jonathan Cuminga / James Weissman / Moses Moody / Jordan Paul, and land another superstar who will bring the club back to greatness.
When we get to the Golden Gate Bridge we will cross it and think about exactly what Golden State’s next step should be, but in the meantime, we can focus on looking forward to one of the most exciting comebacks we have known. A real “Warrior” comeback that will continue from the same point where he stopped in the 2019 final, and as always – will only look at the ring.
Looking forward to returning. Thompson (Getty)