Klay Thompson's injuries have been devastating for the Warriors although there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals was looking like an all-time classic NBA playoff matchup. The Toronto Raptors were taking on the Golden State Warriors in what turned out to be the final game at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Coming into this game, the Warriors were riding high as they had just defeated the Raptors in Toronto, after facing elimination. Now, with the Raptors up 3-2 in the series, the Warriors needed to win or else Toronto would walk away with their very first NBA Championship. Right out of the gate, the Raptors, particularly Kyle Lowry, came out swinging. However, Klay Thompson wasn't about to be outdone, as he absolutely went off in what could have been an all-time performance.
Shockingly, heartbreak struck at the end of the third quarter as Thompson went down with an ACL injury. After hitting free throws, Thompson was forced to leave the game despite his desperation to remain on the floor with his teammates. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors took over and eventually won the game, bringing an end to the Warriors' season. At the time, Kevin Durant was suffering from an Achilles injury and he had a big decision to make in free agency. Eventually, he went to go play in Brooklyn, which left Steph Curry alone with Draymond Green, and an injured Thompson.
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This was significant at the time, due to the fact that the Warriors had just been to five-straight NBA Finals and had won three of them. They were a bonafide dynasty who were destined for plenty more Finals appearances. As everyone expected, the Warriors struggled in Thompson's absence, and once Curry went down with a broken hand, their 2019-2020 campaign was over. The Warriors ended up last in the NBA and even got the second overall pick in the draft. Heading into this season, analysts had the Warriors as a top team in the Western Conference, as it was expected that Klay would return from his injury. Many felt like the Warriors would be back to their winning ways and would even contend for a title. Once again, however, the Warriors, specifically Thompson, experienced a horrendous bout of bad luck. During a training session prior to the regular season, Thompson tore his Achilles which guaranteed that he would have to miss two straight seasons with an injury.
When news of Thompson's injury broke, fans let out a collective groan as they couldn't believe lightning had struck twice on the same player. Not to mention, it was reported that Steph Curry and Draymond Green were distraught over the news as they knew what it would mean for their season. The Warriors went from Western Conference favorites to a team that would be lucky to make the postseason. So far, that critique has rung true as the team has struggled mightily at times, with Curry being tasked with carrying the team on his shoulders. Despite this, the Warriors have fought their way to eighth in the Western Conference and if they continue their hot streak, they could very well end up triumphant in their play-in game.
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Even if the Warriors are in the playoffs, it will probably be for a very brief amount of time. After all, Curry can't do everything right now, and without Thompson on the court, the Warriors seem to be in a state of disarray at times. It's easy to forget that Thompson, just like Curry, is one of the greatest shooters of all-time. When all is said and done, Thompson and Curry are likely to be top-five in three-pointers made, and whenever Klay was on the court, the Warriors always had great spacing. It's almost impossible to defend Thompson and Curry at once, as you basically have to pick and choose which one you want shooting the ball. This is a lose-lose situation no matter how you look at it, as the Splash Brothers have always proven to be assassins when it matters most. With this in mind, you can only imagine what it will be like for opposing teams once Klay comes back to the lineup.
Of course, Thompson will be coming back from ACL and Achilles injuries which are extremely difficult to recover from. However, Thompson is mostly a perimeter shooter which means he won't be impacted as much as a power-forward would be. Yes, it's going to be a long road back once he ends up back on the roster, although once he finds his footing, there is no telling what this Warriors team could do. Thompson will immediately turn the team into contenders again and every single squad in the West should be just a little bit scared. Don't forget, the Warriors finished 73-9 the season before Durant got to Oakland, and that's when the Warriors were run by Green, Curry, and Thompson. While they certainly won't be going 73-9 again, it's important to recognize exactly what we are dealing with here.
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In a league that is dominated by super-teams, it's become quite obvious that the Warriors are only able to stay afloat if they have all of their stars at 100 percent. While he has always played second-fiddle to Curry, it's impossible to deny just how much Thompson means to the Warriors franchise and the Bay area as a whole. He is a career 42 percent shooter from beyond the arc and every time he touches the ball, there is a solid chance something magical happens. It's well-documented that Curry and Green are missing him right now and if it weren't for some bad luck over the last couple of years, the Warriors could have very well won their fourth championship, and they could have easily made another deep playoff run.
Thompson's injury issues have stopped the Warriors' dynasty in its tracks. It's hard to find another example of something like this happening to a similar dynasty, which ultimately makes the Warriors a unique case. Having said that, once Thompson returns, there is a solid chance they go back to their old ways. If that does indeed happen, then the Bay Area will be celebrating for a very long time.