Today we will take a look into the 11th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2011 NBA Draft. He’s a 3-time NBA champ, 5-time NBA All Star and one of the “Slash Brothers”. He helped the Warriors end the drought and brought the Bay Area their first NBA title since 1975. Today’s topic is “The Rise of Klay Thompson – Can he make a comeback?” We will take it back to his childhood days and where he is now.
So taking it back to high school, Klay moved to Ladera Ranch, California and attended Margarita Catholic High School as a 6’5, 185 pound shooting guard. By the time he was a senior, he led his team to the Division III championship game. In the championship game, he showed off his shooting abilities and set a state finals record with seven 3-pointers. He won the Division III State player of the year, League MVP, first-team Best in the West and was selected to the EA Sports Second Team All American. Before graduating he committed to play for Washington State.
He played for Washington State from 2008-2011 in only three seasons. He started in all games as a freshman and led the team in 3-point FG percentage and FT percentage. By his sophomore season, he became the fastest player to reach 1,000 points. In his last season as a Cougar, he became the 3rd all-time leading scorer, and scored a record of 733 points in a season. Klay was such an asset to Washington State that they retired his jersey on January 18th, 2020.
NBA Draft/ Rookie Season:
Klay left Washington state in 2011 and declared for the NBA Draft. He was selected 11th overall by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors general manager had high hopes for Klay and his shooting abilities and defensive skills as well. In his rookie season he improved his averages throughout the season. He had a career-high 27 points. As he improved his minutes almost doubled and by the end of the season he was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
In his sophomore season, he and Steph Curry set a record and combined for 483 3-pointers, which was the most ever by a duo. Klay helped the Warriors appear in the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Spurs in six games in the second round.
Going into the 2013-2014 season, Steph and Klay beat out their previous record and combined for 484 3-pointers on the season, which was one more than the previous season. Head Coach Mark Jackson was convinced that they formed the best shooting duo in NBA history, and he was spot on with that comment. Klay averaged 18.4 points this year and the Warriors went into the playoffs as a sixth seed.
Klay always played second fiddle to Steph, but in the 2014-2015 season he started to make a real name for himself. He topped his career-high and scored 52 points, with 11 3-pointers in a win over the Sacramento Kings. He went 13 for 13 from the field and set a record for the most points in a quarter, with 37. He finally made his first All-Star appearance as a reserve in the 2015 All.Star game. The Splash Bros topped another record of theirs and combined for 525 three’s this season. The Warriors faced Lebron James and the Cavs in the 2015 NBA Finals. They defeated the king and finally claimed their first title in the franchise’s 40-year drought. Klay was a key factor to the Warriors success.
In the 2015-2016 season, Klay was voted an All-Star reserve and selected to compete in the Three-Point Contest. He ended up beating out this teammate Steph Curry and Devin Booker to claim the title. The Warriors had their best season yet, ending the season with the best record in NBA history with 73 wins and 9 loses. The only other team to do this was the 1996 Chicago Bulls who went 72-10. They entered the 2016 playoffs and went straight to the Finals to face off their rivals for a second time, the Cleveland Cavs. It seemed like the Warriors had the title in the bag after going up 3 games to 1. But, the Cavs weren’t going down without a fight. In Game 6, Klay made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points. He absolutely went off! And forced the Cavs to a Game 7. They ended up losing the series, and were so close to being back to back champs.
Klay went into the 2016-2017 season looking for revenge. He became the first player in NBA history to score 60 points in less than 30 minutes of action and also a career-best performance becoming the first Warrior to score this much in 42 years. This season he also had his 10th 40-point game. Klay was showing that he can come through in the clutch just as much as Steph and Kevin Durant could. They finished the season with another extraordinary record of 67 and 15 and headed into the playoffs as the number one seed once again. It was once again the Warriors vs. the Cleveland Cavs again for the 2017 NBA Finals. The Warriors had something to prove, and they defeated the Cavs 4 games to 1, barely giving them a chance. He helped his team earn a second championship this season.
In the 2017-2018 season, Klay became the 10th player in Warriors history to score 10,000 career points. Headed into the playoffs, he joined Rick Barry and Curry as the only Warriors with over 600 postseason field goals. In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, he made 9 3-pointers and finished the game with 35 points. With his performance he helped the Warriors come back from a 17-point lead by the Rockets, and they ended up winning the game. Klay, Steph and KD were putting on a show as they ended up facing off the Cavs in the Finals for a fourth time in 4 years. The Warriors swept the Cavs and finally claimed their back-to-back titles.
Klay felt like he was on top of the world and some critics even started to compare him and his other Splash Bro, Steph Curry. Curry was more flashy with his ball handling and getting into his shot, but was Klay a more consistent shooter? In the 2018-2019 season, he started off the season in a drought shooting only 5-26 from behind the arc in his first 7 games. But, in order to get out of a drought, you gotta keep shooting, which he did. On October 29th, 2018, he broke Steph’s record by making 14 threes. He scored 52 points in only 27 minutes. He had other games where he scored 32 points, 43 points and 44 points, just to name a few. He joined Steph having seven straight seasons with 200 3-pointers. But, Klay doesn’t only shoot the ball, he likes to play defense as well. He was voted the NBA All-Defensive Team for the first time and having the season of his career. Sadly, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, he suffered from a torn ACL, and once Klay went down so did the Warriors.
He faced a long rehab process to get back to the floor, and he missed the whole 2019-2020 season. The Warriors front office have continued to stay loyal to him and offered him a 5-year $190 Million contract following the injury. Klay was so close to being back on the court, but on November 19th, 2020, in a pick game he suffered from now a torn achilles tendon. It was announced that he won’t be suiting up for the 2020-2021 season as well.
A ruptured achilles can be a career-ending injury for some players. From a study conducted in 2013, it identified that 18 players who suffered from a ruptured Achilles between 1988 to 2011, seven of them never returned to the NBA, and others who returned saw decreased numbers in their first and second season. DeMarcus Cousins, for example, returned to play, but wasn’t nearly as dominant as he used to be. And then there’s players like Dominique Wilkens and Kevin Durant who came back just as strong or even stronger than before.
The Warriors coming into this 2020-2021 season are in the middle of the pack in the western conference. With Klay being out for another season, they’re trying to get Curry some help and signed Kelly Oubre Jr. and drafted James Wiseman who’s a 7 ft center. Wiseman has been performing at a high level for the Warriors and Draymond see’s the rookie as being an asset to the team’s success. Oubre on the other hand, isn’t the shooter Klay is, so the Warriors will definitely lack scoring from the outside this season. Steph has started off the season carrying his team and he recently surpassed Reggie Miller for number two on the career 3-pointers made list. But can Steph do it without his partner in crime Klay Thompson?
Will the Warriors keep up with the rest of the pack and make the playoffs? Or is this the end of the Warriors era? Also, how do you think Klay will look in his return to the NBA? Will he make a full comeback? I sure hope he does, but I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.