The return of Klay Thompson is here.
The five-time All-Star will make his season debut Sunday when the Warriors take on the Cavaliers.
Five-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson will be available to play in tomorrow night’s game against Cleveland. pic.twitter.com/7c9NVBcTnK
– Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) January 8, 2023
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The Warriors already have the second-best record in the NBA this season without Thompson registering a single minute. With him, should they be the consensus favorites to win it all?
The Sporting News staff members have their say.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)Let’s not forget that Thompson is coming off perhaps the two worst injuries a basketball player can suffer from a torn ACL. Y Achilles. Having not played in two seasons, it will take time for him to get back to being the Klay Thompson we all know and love.
Assuming, of course, that Thompson can still get back to that level.
Offensively, I think it will be fine. Defensively he’s more of a question mark, although it certainly helps that the Warriors are able to surround him with other elite defenders. (There’s a reason Draymond Green is the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year and Andrew Wiggins has become his goalie on the perimeter very well.)
The Warriors have established themselves as legitimate title contenders this season without Thompson, and he should only improve them. But nevertheless, there’s too much uncertainty for me to say they should be the consensus favorite without seeing what it looks like. I respect the Suns, Nets and Bucks too much (as well as some other teams) to go there.
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Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I’m going to side with Scott here: Thompson’s return doesn’t make the Warriors a consensus title favorite, but it obviously helps your chances.
This has nothing to do with Thompson individually and it has a lot to do with my level of respect for the two teams that made the Finals last year and only seem to have gotten better: the Suns and the Bucks. For me, those are still the two teams to beat. The Nets are there too, but I would group them with the Warriors to form an elite level of four teams that is above the rest of the league.
The Warriors are definitely title contenders and Thompson’s return only strengthens their case for another run to the NBA Finals. I have high hopes for the five-time All-Star when he gets back on the floor, even after spending two full seasons on the sidelines.
That jumper is going nowhere and it will take a lot of pressure off Stephen Curry on the offensive side. With Green still playing Defensive Player of the Year candidate and Wiggins taking on bigger assignments, I don’t think Golden State asks as much of Thompson on the defensive end as they did during their best dynasty days.
I can’t wait for Klay to come back, I have no doubt that he will be amazing. But his comeback doesn’t elevate the Warriors to a level of their own, they’re still in the same group as the Bucks, Suns and Nets.
MORE: Is Curry the Best Player in the NBA?
Gilbert McGregor (@ GMcGregor21): As much as I want to be contrary and go against Scott and Kyle, I can’t say that Thompson’s return makes Golden State the favorite. before seeing it in action.
Before I acknowledge the other favorites, I’ll start by focusing solely on the Warriors.
In Thompson’s absence, Golden State is off to an extremely good start, receiving great contributions from the likes of Otto Porter, Jordan Poole and Wiggins, who have stepped up to do some of the things Thompson does. Now, this is where I clarify that I don’t think those players are better than a five-time All-Star in peak Klay, but I am concerned that an exaggerated effort to reinstate Thompson could have an adverse effect on players who have stepped into the game. forehead.
Would it be permanent? Probably not, but as easy as it should be to get Thompson back into the rotation, it won’t come without an adjustment period. That only evens the playing field, even if it may seem like Golden State has an abundance of riches.
Now, considering the other contenders for the league title, I agree that it would be unfair to use Thompson’s arrival as something that elevates the Warriors above the defending champions, the Suns or the Nets. Oh, and the Bulls are coming too.