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Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson could make his long-awaited return to action on Sunday during his team’s matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, ESPN reported Monday, following a 31-month, injury-riddled absence from a league that has both shifted and remained the same since he was first sidelined.

Key Facts

The team will make a final decision on Thompson’s possible Sunday debut after the Warriors’ return home from a two-game road trip on Friday. 

Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals in June 2019 before tearing his Achilles tendon while recovering from the ACL injury in November 2020, missing a total of 173 consecutive games for the Warriors.

The Warriors currently hold the best record in the NBA at 28-7 despite Thompson’s absence, with his Warriors teammate and two-time MVP Stephen Curry breaking the all-time record for made 3’s last month and currently sitting as the betting favorite to win his third MVP.

Since Thompson went down, the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks won the 2019-20 and 2020-21 NBA championships respectively, with Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic taking home respective 2019-20 and 2020-21 league MVPs.

Thompson has yet to play a game during the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced a four-month-long postponement of the 2019-20 season and is currently keeping dozens of players and coaches sidelined due to a massive outbreak stemming from the omicron variant.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has remained dominant since Thompson’s Achilles tear, claiming the 2020 NBA Finals MVP during his team’s championship run and currently holding the fifth-best player efficiency rating in the NBA despite turning 37 last week.

Big Number

82-91. That’s the Warriors’ record since Thompson went down, though 50 of those losses came during the 2019-20 season when Curry was sidelined for much of the year with a hand injury.

Surprising Fact

The Phoenix Suns, who held a Western Conference-worst 19-93 record in 2018-19 when Thompson went down, were two wins away from an NBA championship last season after acquiring future hall-of-famer Chris Paul and developing young stars Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.


Numerous stars have switched teams since Thompson last saw NBA action, including:

  • Kevin Durant (Thompson’s former teammate on the Warriors, now a Brooklyn Net)
  • James Harden (then a Houston Rocket, now a Net as well) 
  • Kyrie Irving (then a Boston Celtic, also now a Net)
  • Anthony Davis (then a New Olreans Pelican, now a Laker)
  • Chris Paul (From a Rocket to an Oklahoma City Thunder to a Phoenix Sun) 
  • Russell Westbrook (from a Thunder to a Rocket to a Washington Wizard to a Laker)
  • Jimmy Butler (then a Philadelphia 76er, now a Miami Heat)
  • DeMar DeRozan (then a San Antonio Spur, now a Chicago Bull)

Key Background

Thompson, 31, has been deemed the other half of the “Splash Brothers” dynamic duo alongside Curry for his prolifically efficient 3-point shooting ability. Widely regarded as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, the five-time all-star broke Curry’s record for most 3’s made in a game by hitting 14 against the Chicago Bulls in 2018. He also holds the record for most points in a quarter with 37. Thompson played a key role in the Warriors’ three championship runs in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Surprising Fact

Thompson once scored a career-high 60 points in 29 minutes of playing time (the fewest needed to reach 60 in a game in NBA history) while taking just 11 dribbles, encapsulating his unique ability to move off-ball and find gaps in defenses.

Source: Forbes

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