Hopes were dashed. Golden State faced an unpleasant problem
The Golden State Warriors continue to patiently await the return of attacking guard Clay Thompson. The basketball player who has missed more than two years is about to start full-fledged training. But before the end of the year, alas, it is not worth waiting for, and it is impossible to predict in what condition Thompson will be. However, for the Warriors, his return is a matter of prohibitive importance. After all, Stephen Curry alone will not be able to drag the team, no matter how hard he tries.
Thompson last entered the set in 2019. In the sixth game of the final series against the Toronto Raptors, he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in his left knee, which is why he missed the entire 2019/2020 season. Clay was ready to return to service last year, but shortly before the start of the 2021/2022 season, he tore Achilles in training. The player is still recovering from injury and will not return until the end of November.
“The exact date of the return has not been set, but I’m unlikely to miss less than 12 months – that is, I will be absent at least until the end of November or early December,” – said Thompson.
This is the player’s most optimistic forecast, and there is also a more realistic one. Warriors general manager Bob Myers said ahead of training camp that the club was not going to use Thompson until Christmas. The most likely return date is the second half of January.
It’s worth noting that the decline in fitness isn’t such a big deal for Clay. He was never famous for his athleticism, but that did not stop him from gaining 40+ points per game or “carry” the opponent’s stars on the defensive. Yes, he can lose speed, slow down in defense, but with his level of understanding of the game, he will still remain effective. The main thing is that the throwing skill does not regress at all. Another question is how prepared Thompson is for a lot of physical activity. He will surely miss matches during the season even after recovering. Another serious injury and another missed championship will actually mean the end of his career, so the club is not going to risk it.
The NBA has had more than one successful return to the court following an Achilles break. The most recent example is Kevin Durant , who missed the entire 2019/2020 season. In the last draw, Kevin took part in only 35 matches, but was extravagant for Brooklyn in the playoffs and for the US team at the Olympics. Of course, Kay Dee did not go out on the floor for a year and a half, not two and a half, and even before the Achilles ruptured with crosses, he did not suffer. But how loud was his return! Now almost all analysts call him the best player in the NBA.
As for Thompson, he is now Golden State’s main hope. Yes, the Warriors have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green , but last season they lacked other quality performers on the court. There were no strong attacking players, no reliable defenders, not even a stable sniper. Andrew Wiggins as the second scorer is sadness. A player with a salary of $ 32 million a year is ineffective on the court, and in addition, may miss all home games due to refusal of vaccinations.
Kelly Ubre and Kent Basemore left Warrios last summer. Young Jordan Poole will most likely play in the position of number two until Thompson’s return. Last season, his progress was evident – the 22-year-old has added in literally every aspect of his game. And this is not the only young talent on the Golden State lineup. Jonathan Cuminga, Moses Moody and Jonathan Wiseman have all been picked under the picks in the last two drafts. In the future, one of them will surely be able to become, if not a star in the league, then a valuable role-playing player. But so far they are all completely damp, and the “warriors” have no time to build them up. And to rely on young people in the current situation is not an idea so-so.
In the offseason, in addition to the draft picks Cuming and Moody, the not young Otto Porter, Nemanja Bjelitsa, André Igoudala and Avery Bradley joined the team as free agents . At the moment, all four are players of the minimum contract level. Bradley might even be removed after training camp. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr can’t say he has a great rotation.
The Warriors’ season could not only have been saved by Thompson’s return, but also by a loud exchange. And for him, the team has all the resources – talented youth, spades, even Wiggins with his 32 million contract to equalize wages. But so far everything is quiet at Golden State. In exchange for Bradley Beale, rumors about which have been circulating for a year, I can not believe at all, as well as in the transition of Damien Lillard. And the non-throwing Ben Simmons is not needed by the current Warriors. And the fact that the star who came during the season will immediately join the team and help Golden State reach the championship level is very unlikely.
So while the championship ambitions of the team from San Francisco will have to diminish. There are just over two weeks left before the start of the season. “Warrios” has no choice but to humbly await Thompson’s return. Perhaps in December we will again see an amazing combination of Clay and Steph Curry on the court. But no one knows yet whether it will yield results, or whether the “warriors” will again remain an ordinary middle peasant in the league.
All hopes of the Warriors were dashed. Ambition will have to be significantly reduced. 6-9 months ago there was information that Thompson should recover by the start of the regular season in October. However, Golden State faced unforeseen problems – the recovery process was delayed, and we will most likely see Clay on the floor only in January (if the deadline is not rescheduled again, which is very often the case with such injuries). The Warriors do not have a high seeding number in the playoffs, if they get there at all. The game of the dynasty level of 2015-2019 performed by the Kerr team is now unattainable. At the very least, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets will be the clear favorites for a potential Warriors streak, even if Thompson hits the court.
If it can return the former greatness of Golden State, then only in the 2022/2023 season. Conditions? The stars avoid new injuries, Thompson goes to a comparable level, Wiggins manages to fold profitably, young lottery prospectuses show significant progress. There are too many components of the equation to consider the probability of this event high.