Warriors' Klay Thompson Says He Had Doubts About Knee Injury Comeback 'Every Day'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 17, 2022

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 16: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors smiles after Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 16, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 2022 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

A 30-month absence from playing basketball would be enough to shake even the greatest athlete.

Klay Thompson admitted he was no stranger to self-doubt as he tried to work his way back from ACL and Achilles injuries.

"I doubted [myself] every day," Thompson said on teammate Draymond Green's podcast (1:50 mark). "I remember guarding [Leandro Barbosa] and I could not stay in front of this man. Even Will Sheehey, who never played in the league, I was getting busted by him. Everybody. I was just the weak link out there. I was like, 'Man, I swear I used to be a great defender. I swear I used to be a great shooter.'

"And then [Warriors director of sports medicine and performance] Rick Celebrini would tell me every day, 'Klay, it's gonna be up and down but we just need Klay for the playoffs. That's all it's gonna take.' And I was like, 'OK, Rick. Whatever you say.' So I had so many doubts."

Thompson suffered a torn ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals and missed the entire 2019-20 season. He then tore his Achilles as he was ramping up his activity to return in the 2020-21 campaign, causing him to miss that entire season.

The five-time All-Star didn't make his 2021-22 season debut until January and remains very much a work in progress as he looks to return to his previous form. He shot a career-low 42.9 percent and 38.5 percent from three-point range during the regular season, all while struggling to regain his All-Defensive form. The inconsistent play continued in the playoffs, with Thompson shooting just 36.9 percent in the Warriors' Finals win over the Boston Celtics.

Inconsistencies aside, there were moments when Thompson flashed his former brilliance. He put up three straight 20-point games in the Warriors' first-round romp over the Denver Nuggets and pulled out 30-point games in close-out victories over the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks.

While Thompson is not the same player he was in 2019, he's still in the early stages of his return. Health-permitting, Thompson will have a full offseason to work on his game and not rehab any injuries for the first time since 2018.

We'll get a much better picture of the player Thompson will be for the remainder of his career starting next season.