China Klay. Quarantine Klay. Now we have Bubble Klay.
While familiar Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green aren't participating in the team's two-week minicamp which kicked off earlier this week in their own bubble at Chase Center in San Francisco, an equally integral part of the Warriors' recent success has officially re-joined the ranks. On Friday, All-Star Klay Thompson practiced with the Warriors for the first time since tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
"It's been a long time coming, and it's great to have him out on the floor and in the locker room," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, via Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Just his presence alone gave us a jolt of energy and excitement."
There were rumors that Thompson would potentially come back for what would have been the end of the 2019-20 regular season in March or April -- rumors that the Warriors consistently denied -- but it became a moot point when Curry went down with a broken hand in the fourth game of the season and Golden State sputtered to the league's worst record. This allowed the team to be deliberate with Thompson's rehab, and due to the COVID-19 hiatus and the Warriors not being invited to participate in the NBA restart, Thompson is just now practicing with the team for the first time.
Kerr said that Thompson was understandably rusty in his first practice, but recognized that it was an important moment for his 30-year-old sharpshooter, who averaged 21.5 points on 40 percent 3-point shooting in 2018-19.
"This was his first practice coming off an ACL injury. I didn't expect him to be in top form and he was not," Kerr said, via The Athletic's Anthony Slater. "But he moved well and it was a great first step. Klay got a lot of good work in and was able to gauge where he is right now."
It hasn't been decided whether Thompson will participate in upcoming 5-on-5 scrimmages, which the team will hold soon. Kerr added that Thompson was his usual self during practice, and that he didn't waste any time producing a classic Klay moment.
"He was really quiet," Kerr said, via Mark Medina of USA Today. "He did yawn one time really loudly when I was talking to the team."
Golden State is expected to return to title contender status next season with the healthy return of Curry, Thompson and a refreshed Green, who played less than half as many minutes in the 2019-20 season as he had averaged over the previous five, when you include the playoffs.
Armed with the No. 2 pick in November's NBA Draft, the Warriors have the choice of either taking a top prospect or trading the pick, perhaps with Andrew Wiggins, to acquire another high level contributor. None of the Warriors' decisions will matter much, however, if Thompson isn't healthy -- so it's great to see him back on the court in his next stage of rehab.