Klay Thompson 'So Proud' of Warriors After Play-In Exit: 'I've Never Been Hungrier'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 22, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 21: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament on May 21, 2021 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson said Friday he's "never been hungrier" after the team's season came to a close with a 117-112 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in tournament.

Thompson, who's missed the last two seasons with a torn ACL and a ruptured Achilles, posted comments on his Instagram story and noted he's "so proud" of his teammates:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Klay's got love for his team ❤️<br><br>He's coming back "hungrier" next year<br><br>(via @KlayThompson) pic.twitter.com/MeorKpC4rw

The 31-year-old sharpshooter was going through a workout in November when he suffered the Achilles injury during the final stages of his ACL recovery.

In March, Thompson, who lasted played in June 2019, described 2020 as "probably the worst year of my life" between the injury setback and losses in his personal life:

"It feels good to be back here. I feel love when I'm back in the Warriors facility. My roots are here. [The pandemic] was not easy on anybody. Everyone had their own little trials and tribulations in 2020, but that was it for me—was losing my grandma Mary, tearing my Achilles, I still think about Kobe [Bryant] every single day.

"There's not a day I don't think about him. And not being able to have that last convo with him ... it was a tough year, guys. Not only for me, but I'm sure for all of you. I'm looking forward to the future, that's for sure."

Thompson is one of the NBA's top two-way players when healthy. He averaged 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 threes, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals across 78 games during the 2018-19 season. He shot 46.7 percent from the field, including 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.

The five-time All-Star explained in March he doesn't expect a return to top form right away when the 2021-22 season gets started given his extended absence:

"I'll be honest with you guys: I don't expect to come back and just [go] balls to the wall, 38 minutes a night, guarding the best player running around 100 screens. I'm going to get to that point, I guarantee that. But I've talked to [Warriors director of sports medicine and performance] Rick Celebrini about a lot; it might be 20 minutes to start the season, 18 minutes, like a minutes restriction. We'll see where I'm at."

Just getting him back on the floor for meaningful games would be a major step in the right direction for the Warriors, who sorely missed his contributions at both ends of the floor the past two years.

Golden State's short-term outlook is still promising with Thompson preparing to rejoin longtime running mates Stephen Curry and Draymond Green along with Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman. The team can also either re-sign Kelly Oubre Jr. or look to add another impact piece during the offseason.

Put it all together and the Warriors could be a factor in the West next year if they're able to stay healthy.