The Golden State Warriors star guard Klay Thompson has been struggling with his shooting form and confidence this season, leading to a surprising benching in the final minutes of Monday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets. Thompson, who is one of the best shooters in NBA history, spoke candidly about his challenges and how he is coping with them.
Thompson: “It’s very hard”
Thompson, who is averaging career-lows in field goal percentage (41.5%) and three-point percentage (37.1%), was benched by coach Steve Kerr for the last seven minutes of the game against the Nets, as the Warriors opted for rookie Gui Santos instead. Thompson finished the game with zero points on 0-for-4 shooting, his first scoreless game since his rookie season in 2012.
After the game, Thompson admitted that he is going through a tough time mentally and physically, as he tries to regain his form after missing two seasons due to injuries.
“I feel great physically, mentally is probably a different story,” Thompson said. “I’ll be honest with you, it’s very hard. To go from one of the best players, it’s hard for anybody.”
Thompson, who is a five-time All-Star and a three-time NBA champion, said he is not worried about his role or playing time, as long as the team wins.
“At the end of the day, winning trumps all,” Thompson said. “Yeah, you kidding me? We won. It’s hard to get wins in this league.”
Green supports his teammate
Thompson’s longtime teammate and friend Draymond Green, who was also ejected from the game after a scuffle with Nets center DeAndre Jordan, showed his support for Thompson in the locker room. Green interrupted Thompson’s interview and reminded him that he was also benched in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, which the Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“What they talking about, you ain’t played [sic] to finish the game? I got benched in Game 5 of the Finals, who the (expletive) cares?” Green said.
Green, who is known for his fiery personality and leadership, said he has no doubt that Thompson will bounce back from his slump.
“Klay is one of the best players in the world, one of the best shooters ever,” Green said. “He’s mentally tough, he plays through everything. He’ll be fine.”
Kerr explains his decision
Kerr, who has coached the Warriors to five NBA Finals appearances and three titles, said he decided to bench Thompson because he felt that Santos was playing better and giving the team more energy. Kerr said he was not trying to send a message to Thompson or punish him for his poor performance.
“If a group’s playing well, you just stay with that group,” Kerr said. “They were really competing and making plays… [Thompson]’s fine. This is a season where he’s had a lot of ups and downs and it’s not easy for a guy who’s been so good, Hall of Fame player, to deal with the injuries and it’s never easy for any player getting older. But he’s mentally tough, he plays through everything.”
Kerr said he still trusts Thompson and believes in his ability to help the team win.
“Klay is one of the greatest players I’ve ever coached, one of the greatest shooters of all time,” Kerr said. “He’s going to have nights where he lights it up and nights where he doesn’t. That’s the nature of the game. But he’s always going to be a huge part of what we do.”
Warriors look to improve
The Warriors, who are currently 22-25 and 10th in the Western Conference standings, are hoping to improve their record and make the playoffs for the first time since 2019. The team has been plagued by injuries, inconsistency and lack of chemistry, as they try to integrate new players and adjust to the absence of former MVP Stephen Curry, who is out for the season with a broken hand.
The Warriors will continue their road trip with a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, who are also dealing with injuries and a four-game losing streak. The Warriors will try to build on their win over the Nets and get back on track.
The Warriors are confident that Thompson will find his groove and help them achieve their goals.
“Klay is a warrior, no pun intended,” Wiggins said. “He’s been through a lot, he’s overcome a lot. He’s still one of the best players in the league. He’ll get it going, he’ll be fine.”
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