Klay Thompson took the court with his Golden State Warriors teammates on Friday for the first time since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 season as he worked his way back from an ACL injury, and head coach Steve Kerr said just having him on the floor this week seemed to spark the Warriors during their minicamp:
“Number one, it was just great to see him. It’s a sight for sore eyes,” Kerr said. “It’s been 400 days since Klay last took part in a game for the Warriors, or even a practice, so it's been a long time coming. It's great to have him out on the floor in the locker room just his presence alone gave us a jolt of energy and excitement."
The Warriors are hosting their training session inside what the team is calling the "Dubble"—an isolated environment where the roster and staff will train and stay quarantined for two weeks of practice—though Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have been excused for family reasons.
That shouldn't make Thompson's attendance any less important.
With the NBA expected to kick off the 2020-21 season around January, the shooting guard will need as much time as possible to not only get his conditioning and strength back, but regain his rhythm on the floor and build chemistry with new teammates.
Thompson has yet to play with power forward Eric Paschall, small forward Andrew Wiggins or guards Jordan Poole and Ky Bowman.
Getting reps in with likely key players next year is crucial for Thompson's comeback.
"This was his first practice coming off an ACL injury," Kerr said. "I didn't expect him to be in top form and he was not. 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."
Before his injury, Thompson averaged 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists. If he can get close to those numbers again, Golden State will be tough to challenge.
The Warriors are hoping they can return to their championship form next season after Kevin Durant's departure, a slew of injuries and poor play derailed their 2019-20 campaign. With the No. 2 draft pick this year and a healthy trio of Thompson, Curry and Green, that seems entirely possible.
Getting the starting shooting guard back on the court has already brought them a step closer to making it a reality.