The Golden State Warriors currently hold a league-leading 15-2 record. Not a single soul (except the team's players and coaching staff) expected them to come out as strong as this. If they were going to start squeezing out victories, analysts believed it would be once Klay Thompson returns.
Yet here they are, and the Warriors' record speaks for itself. Looking at other indicators, the Warriors have a 112.9 offensive rating which is second-best in the Association. Even better, they are the number one defensive team in the league with a 100.0 rating.
Thompson is well-aware of these numbers. He is also no stranger to the reality that his team is doing well without him on the court. Klay knows that he is not just one of the best shooters in history. He is also one heck of a defender.
If it sounds like a threat, it probably is. Thompson has participated in a full team practice for the first time since his ACL and Achilles injuries. It will take more than a few games for him to get back into NBA shape. The medical staff, too, will probably limit his minutes for several games.
However, it would be completely wrong to say that Thompson would ruin the Warriors' seamless chemistry that has catapulted them to a 15-2 record. This is not the case. Klay is one of the foundational pieces of the Warriors. Steve Kerr's offense is tailor-made for him and fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry. In other words, the Warriors are much more lethal with Thompson around.
Thompson isn't just chasing his fourth title ring. To recall, Klay was not selected into the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Everyone was in disagreement, especially Thompson, who has hinted numerous times that he is out for vengeance. Warriors fans know Thompson responds to such criticisms: by shooting the lights out and playing lockdown defense on the other side of the floor.
It's understandable why we all focus on Klay's shooting. Dropping 37 in a quarter and dominating Game 6s will do that. But Thomspon was also one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. If he can get anywhere close to his previous defensive form, the Warriors will be the main favorite to come out of the West. If they aren't already.