Why the 2023 NBA offseason is the most important for Klay's career originally appeared nbc sports birea
SAN FRANCISCO — The dark days of Klay Thompson's 2019 off-season will never be completely forgotten by the Warriors shooting guard who underwent surgery to repair his torn left ACL. Neither would he recover from that surgery but would tear his right Achilles in November of 2020, just before the nba draft.
But starting now, Thompson faces his most important off-season yet, entering his 13th and 11th season on the court.
“I think the biggest thing for Klay is to have a great off-season,” Steve Kerr said Tuesday. “At 34, 33, I think, with two big injuries behind him, this is a time where he has to be more prepared than ever for the first day of training camp, not only physically with injuries and strength And handling the conditioning part. Everything, but also understanding that as you get older, you have to get better at the areas that you can improve on.
“You can't count on things that you can count on at 28 or 27. There are areas where he can be better, and he's going to focus on those things this summer and Will have a great year next year.”
Thompson turns 33 in February, three-plus weeks before Draymond Green turns 33. His two devastating injuries that took two years of his prime are long gone. So there's rehab. He enjoyed his first rehab-free offseason last year while celebrating his fourth championship, albeit a rough road.
The five-time All-Star is crazy about basketball. If he had to rank his two happy places as where he feels most comfortable, the court and the water would top the list – in any order depending on the day.
That wasn't true last summer, at least not with Court.
He hardly ever played summer ball. Mentally, it was very tough on the future Hall of Famer. It is also difficult to argue with his reasoning.
The last time Thompson was healthy and enjoying pickup basketball, his Achilles popped and he again had to go through a rehab nightmare.
“I haven't played a lot this summer. It was tough,” Thompson told reporters before the Warriors' second pre-season game in japan on October 1. Rupture my Achilles. It was really hard for me to get out of there. Just mentally, it was tough.
“It's hard to explain, it's like a mental block in a way. I'm going to face it one day, but this season was so difficult, with everyone coming back. It was difficult to win the championship and then play a month later. It was a lot. But I'm looking forward to playing summer basketball again.”
The Warriors and Thompson will need to be on the same page with their training and regimen this summer. He respected her vulnerability and honesty. They understood his vulnerability to what Kell called a “mental block”.
Now that he's essentially played a full season, will he be able to overcome that hurdle this off-season and get the job done?
His picturesque shot is still there, and it always seems to improve as the season progresses. However, his extremely slow start to the season hurt himself and the Warriors. He was ejected for the first time in his career in the fourth game of the season when he started 1 of 8 from the field and missed all of his 3-point attempts in a 29-point loss to the Phoenix Suns.
There were concerns whether Thompson would even be ready for the regular season after being held out of scrimmage in the offseason and playing in only one preseason game. The Warriors went from an 18-2 start to 10-10 a year later in their first 20 games of the 2021-22 season, and the star shooting guard was part of the problem.
“I think Clay had a great second half of the season,” Kerr said. “I know things didn't pan out the way they had hoped in the playoffs, but I think there's a lot we can do as a team to help each other have a better shot next year.” Which I think will help Kel.”
The January of 2023 was the best January of his career, averaging 27.0 points on 45.9 percent shooting and 43.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. February blossomed into an even better version of him. In the 11-game span, Thompson scored 25.5 points on 45.3 percent shooting and 45.4 percent from deep. He had two 42-point performances and scored at least 20 points seven times for the month.
The playoffs, especially their series against their hometown Los Angeles Lakers, are what hurt the most.
Even finishing with 20 or more points in five of his seven games against the Sacramento Kings, Thompson was good but not great by his playoff standards. His shooting percentage for the epic first-round series was 42.5 percent and he made 35.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. The last two games, however, were a preview of what was to come with only one day between games.
Thompson scored 38 points on a combined 30.8 percent shooting (12 of 39) and 21.1 percent (4 of 19) on 3-pointers in Game 6 and Game 7 against the Kings.
He combined to score 55 points in the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals. In the last four matches of the series, he scored a total of 42 runs. The schedule gave Thompson no breaks and his body wore down right in front of us. Thompson was putting up an uphill battle and went down in a disappointing finish.
Look away if you must. But Thompson averaged 10.5 points on 25 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 percent from his second home, AKA 3-point range, in the last four games — three of which were in LA.
“It was great to play in front of my dad,” Thompson said after the Warriors' season-ending Game 6 loss to the Lakers, in which he scored eight points on 3-of-19 shooting. “I obviously wish I would have shot the ball more efficiently. Probably the worst shooting series I've had in a long time.
“At the end of the day, though, I'm still under contract with the Dubs and I'm going to use that as fuel coming into next season. It just sucks. When you give it your all and Sometimes it doesn't go the way you want it to, that's the hardest part of being a professional athlete.”
Focusing only on the bad doesn't tell the whole story. Thompson played in 69 regular-season games, giving him his first full season since 2018–19, and played the final four back-to-back seasons. Milestones abounded, including leading the NBA in 3-pointers made for the first time in his career with 301, joining Steph Curry and James Harden as the only other players to make at least 300 threes in a season.
Also, his 21.9 points per game was Thompson's best since the 2016–17 season, when he was 26.
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Thompson famously said that he didn't give up S-T when Kevin Durant joined the Warriors. Well, he may have to go at this point in his career. What's more, it's about adapting and evolving.
While he isn't the two-way player he once was and isn't as sharp defensively, Thompson can use his size to his advantage and still show some strong defensive play. He would have to be able to play more small forwards and even power forwards in some lineups. The Warriors can't make him wait exclusively for the ball at the 3-point line.
Maybe the middle class people become more friends. Thompson is a basketball historian who watched Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant expand their games with age. The splash brother made 41 percent of his mid-range shots this season, and he only made 20 percent of his total shots.
As the Warriors try to balance their books and face several financial constraints, Thompson is entering the final season of a $190 million contract. The Warriors awarded him a max deal after he tore his ACL and the gruesome injury cost him two years of that contract. He is due over $43 million next season before potentially becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Thompson said, “I know I'm going to come back even better next year.”
That starts now. The dark days are over, and Thompson says he is determined to prove his doubters wrong once again. Let's face facts: His future – on the court and financially – could hang in the balance over the next few months, entering a crucial season for him and the franchise alike.