The Golden State Warriors may have won the 2022 NBA Finals, but so far this season, their title defense isn't exactly off to a hot start. Even after they blew out the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 132-95 on Monday, the Warriors have just a 6-8 record, as they have struggled to replicate their defensive success from last season and haven't been able to give Stephen Curry any offensive support.
Klay isn't happy with the hate he has gotten for his slow start to the season
Aside from Curry, nobody on the Warriors has had a very strong start to the season. But the most notable player to struggle in the early going has been Klay Thompson. Thompson returned to the court last season after a two-and-a-half-year layoff to help the Warriors win a title, but he has been horrible to start the season and has quickly come to personify Golden State's struggles.
Thompson's per-game stats through 11 games (14.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 35.1 FG%, 33 3P%) are all among the worst of his career. Thompson was playable for the Warriors last season and played a big role in helping them win their most recent championship, but he hasn't been close to being the player he was last season in the early going. Thompson's struggles have been quite a hot topic to start the 2022-23 season, and Thompson isn't happy with all the hate he's receiving for his poor play.
"I feel like I deserve more credit for battling through all that injury s--t. I helped a team win a championship last year and people still want to discredit what you do. You know what I've learned about that? You just can't please everybody. But for myself individually, it's about rediscovering that form of efficiency and that two-way play that made me great. And I feel like I'm well on my way there." - Klay Thompson, Bleacher Report
The Warriors are certainly hoping Klay can figure things out
It's good to hear that Thompson thinks he's figuring things out, but nothing in his play suggests that is actually true. Thompson's main value on the basketball court is his ability to hit shots, but considering how he's barely shooting over 35 percent from the floor, he clearly hasn't been very valuable, which instantly makes it a lot tougher to justify playing him.
The problem with playing Thompson when he isn't hitting shots is that he doesn't do much else. He's not a natural playmaker, and defense has never been his calling card. Now that Thompson isn't hitting shots, and a guy like Jordan Poole, who just scored 36 points while filling in for Thompson against the Spurs, is sitting on the bench, Golden State may be forced into a tough decision with their longtime guard.
Not many athletes would have been able to return to the court like Thompson did last season after such a long layoff, but it's become clear that he may not be the same player he once was. Thompson will turn 33 midway through the season, and considering all the serious injuries he's dealt with recently, he could simply be regressing. Thompson may be able to figure things out eventually, but if he can't, the Warriors may have to send him to the bench.