Klay Thompson has had the worst start to his career this season for the Golden State Warriors. It got so bad that several basketball analysts urged head coach Steve Kerr to bench the second member of the "Splash Bros."
After a jaw-dropping performance on the road against the Houston Rockets where he exploded for 41 points, the critics have been momentarily silenced.
Shaquille O’Neal, on “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” had this to say about how Thompson can keep his detractors at bay:
(Starts at the 40:15 mark)
“When you have two severe injuries on the same leg, it’s gonna take a little bit and shooters is all about their legs.
“He had a great game last night, last week, but can he do it again? They have always been strong because of their consistency. I’m glad he had a great game. Klay is my guy. If he can continue to play like that then we definitely owe him an apology.
“He is a tough kid, he ain’t soft by any means. Hopefully, he took what Chuck [Charles Barkley] says and used that as motivation and hopefully bring back his game to the level that we’re used to.”
It’s well-documented how Klay Thompson battled two brutal injuries that sidelined him for more than two years. He returned last season to help the Golden State Warriors win their fourth title in eight years. Although he had an up-and-down campaign last season, it wasn’t as bad as his start to this season.
Before his spectacular game against the Rockets, Thompson was only averaging 15.5 points. He hit just 35.1% of his field goals, including a horrific 25.1% from 3-point land. “Killa Klay” was attempting 15.3 shots per game during that span.
In the Warriors’ first game of the season against the Phoenix Suns, Klay Thompson was badly burned by Devin Booker on both ends of the floor. Clearly frustrated by his inability to score and defend, Thompson lost his cool, began trash-talking and was eventually ejected.
After the game, Charles Barkley asserted that "Father Time" had already caught up with the once-deadly shooting guard. Barkley’s comments didn’t sit well with Steph Curry, who took a shot at the NBA legend.
Thompson, meanwhile, was emotional in his push back of “Sir Chuck’s” assessment.
Klay Thompson may have a long way to go to regain his deadly self
Klay Thompson and several of the veteran Golden State Warriors did not play after the Rockets game. They returned to action to dismantle the heavily-undermanned LA Clippers on Wednesday.
Thompson finished the game with 18 points on 5-10 shooting, including 3-7 from beyond the arc. He had two steals, but didn’t have any rebounds, assists, or blocks. He also committed four of the Warriors’ 13 turnovers despite not being the point guard.
Over the last two games, Thompson is averaging 29.5 points on 55.4% shooting, including a blistering 59.9% from beyond the arc. He’s not likely going to sustain this sizzling form, but if he can reach his career averages, the criticism will eventually fade.
“Killa Klay” has shown signs of life and will have to be consistently good to silence his doubters. It’s not a coincidence that Golden State is struggling during his inept performances. The Warriors will need the best version of Klay Thompson to repeat as champions.