Klay inspired by statement showing to average 20 points


NEW ORLEANS -- For five straight seasons before sustaining two grueling leg injuries that kept Klay Thompson away from what he loves most, two constants continued for the Warriors star: He averaged at least 20 points per game and he was an NBA All-Star every single year. 

Thompson came into Smoothie King Center needing 29 points to reach that 20 points per game mark this season, and nearly got there in the first half alone. By halftime, he had 21 points. Five more points in the third quarter had him just three away from that magic number. Then came the fourth quarter, when he took over and made his loudest statement yet in the final game of the regular season. 

As the Pelicans pecked their way back into the game, Klay put it away with 13 straight points. Game over, Warriors win, 128-107

"It was one of those nights and I'm very grateful for it," Thompson said after the win. 

Thompson dropped 41 points for the night -- his most since Jan. 21, 2019 -- putting him at 20.4 points per game this season. He missed 941 days before making his triumphant return on Jan. 9. He played 32 games in the regular season saved his best for last three months after completing his comeback. 

This has been a season of reflection for the 32-year-old. Scratch that. This now has been years of reflection, growth on and off the court and he refuses to take anything for granted. That includes averaging over 20 points, too. 

"I pat myself on the back because when you go through the injuries that I did, there's some really slow days," Thompson said. "There's so many tedious exercises just building up your muscles again. To be able to do what you love, it was a challenge and something I never had to do before. So to have to do it twice and come out and average a dub ... man, it's inspiring for myself and it just makes me want to keep going.

"I'm still just scratching the surface of what I can become."

Steve Kerr has seen his star shooting guard at his best and at his worst. He counted down the days until Klay would be back, and nothing shocks him after years around him. There couldn't be any expectations after that long of a layoff. 

But 20 points per game? Nope, not even that. 

"It doesn't surprise me, actually," Kerr said, "because it's Klay. He's one of the greatest shooters of all time. I think the biggest thing is that he's just found his rhythm. He's gotten his conditioning back. Early on he wanted everything back so badly that he was forcing the issue. 

"It's just been really fun watching him settle." 

As soon as the game tipped off, Klay had his flow. His first shot attempt was a 3-pointer. Swish, the Warriors had their first points of the game. In the end, Thompson put up a season-high in points and tied a career-high of three straight games of scoring at least 30 points. 

Over those last three games, he has scored 110 points. None of them were forced. 

The highs, the lows -- all of it was captured with one final emphatic fist pump after eclipsing that 40-point mark for the first time in over 39 months. 

RELATED: Klay hits multiple milestones in Warriors' season finale

"After what I battled through, I'll never take a 40-ball lightly ever again," Thompson said. "That's hard to do in the NBA. I don't care who's guarding me, who's playing: 40 points is 40 points and that was a sweet night for myself." 

Klay is back, in the most clear way possible. Now, it's time for his return for the playoffs, another dream turned into a reality after countless dark days with him now smiling bigger and bigger at the mere thought of him shining on the brightest stage once more.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us