Golden State Warriors superstar guard Klay Thompson was diagnosed Friday with a concussion and must clear the NBA’s protocol before he returns to the court, per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets unintentionally kneed Thompson in the head during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday. Thompson was originally diagnosed with a right ear laceration and needed stitches, though he never returned to the game.
However, he was not determined to have a concussion in the immediate aftermath of the play and was cleared to return.
Thompson’s father told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike (via Will Brinson of CBS Sports) on Thursday morning that “Klay couldn't drive home last night and threw up a couple times when he got home.” In retrospect, that is unsurprising considering Thompson actually did suffer a concussion.
Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk believed Thompson should not have been cleared even before it was officially announced the shooting guard suffered a concussion:
The NBA should ban players suspected by medical personnel of having a concussion from returning to play that day. It’s too dangerous.
There is a risk team doctors will shy from testing for concussions if this lower standard is enacted, but maybe it should be taken out of their hands. The NBA could appoint neutral doctors to evaluate at each game.
That might be an overreaction in a league where concussions are rare, but the severity of head injuries is too high to keep putting possibly concussed players in this dangerous situation just because their symptoms didn’t show minutes after the fact.
The only silver lining from this announcement for the Warriors and their fans is the fact that the Finals do not begin until Thursday, June 4. Thompson still has approximately a week to pass the protocol and return to the floor.
There is no guarantee that will happen, and Thompson's long-term health is far more important than even the NBA Finals, but a few extra days off should give the shooting guard a better chance of passing the protocol.
Thompson is critical to Golden State’s title hopes for a number of reasons. He is a lethal three-point shooter (43.9 percent this year), and he is capable of carrying the offense if the Cleveland Cavaliers focus too much attention on MVP Stephen Curry.
Thompson is also a formidable defender, which means he could theoretically find himself guarding LeBron James for stretches of the Finals. If Thompson isn’t healthy, Golden State loses that option as well as 21.7 points per game.
Beating James and the Cavs in the NBA Finals is a difficult enough task for the Warriors. It would become even more daunting without Thompson.