Warriors' Steve Kerr Says It'd Be 'Idiotic' to Bench Klay Thompson at End of Games

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02:  Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors complains about a no call against the Utah Jazz in the first half at Chase Center on April 02, 2022 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 the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Klay Thompson has been understandably inconsistent in his 30 games this season after missing the past two campaigns with knee and Achilles injuries, but Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has no plans on benching him in crunch time.

"The stars have to be stars, and Klay is a star," Kerr said, per Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "My job is to help him play at the highest level that he can. I'm not benching him. It's idiotic."

Kerr continued, explaining there is more that goes into coaching than just diagramming plays, and finding the correct solution with Thompson is part of that:

"Anybody who says that I might have to take him out of the closing lineup clearly doesn't understand real coaching. Real coaching is not, 'Let's draw up this great shot for Klay Thompson.' Real coaching is communicating with your players every day and feeding them confidence and treating them with respect and collaborating with them. If I went to Klay Thompson and said, 'Oh yeah, you're not in the closing lineup anymore,' are you kidding me? What the hell are we even talking about?
"Sounds great on paper if he's struggling and … everyone's got their solution. But these guys are human beings and they're not robots. So my belief in our players is a huge part of coaching, and I will ride with Klay forever."

Attrition has been a major part of the story for the Warriors beyond just Thompson working his way back into the lineup and playing on a minutes restriction at times.

Stephen Curry is still sidelined, and Draymond Green has missed plenty of time. It is a credit to the team's overall depth that it still has the third-best record in the Western Conference at 50-29, as Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga have played key roles.

That could lend itself to playing some of those players instead of Thompson come crunch time if the five-time All-Star is off on a given night, but Kerr pushed back against the notion of leaving his stars on the sideline.

"Damn right. It's Klay Thompson. … He's hung three banners. Not only does he deserve the respect, but he's hung three banners. If we're going to try to hang another one, it's going to be him, it's going to be Draymond, it's going to be Steph. It's the guys who have done it and the guys who are still capable of doing it. That's who you lean on. Role players all have to play their roles. Everyone's going to have to step up at different times. But championship runs, they're keyed around the superstars. That's just facts. I saw it as a player during my time. If Tim Duncan's not in San Antonio, there's no banners. If Michael Jordan's not in Chicago, there's no banners. Doesn't matter what everybody else did."

As he mentioned, Kerr brings a unique perspective to the issue considering he was a role player with Jordan on the Chicago Bulls and Duncan on the San Antonio Spurs.

It's also hard to argue with the suggestion Thompson should be in with the game on the line as a three-time champion who is one of the best shooters in NBA history. He has flashed moments of his old self this season as well with four games of more than 30 points, including when he dropped 36 in Saturday's win over the Utah Jazz.

If he can find that form on a more consistent basis and Curry returns to health by the playoffs, Golden State is on the short list of the most realistic championship contenders even if teams like the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies have been better during the regular season.

And it appears as if Thompson will have the chance to consistently find that form by remaining on the floor in crunch time.