Klay Thompson

Klay reveals biggest lesson he learned in this Warriors season

NBC Universal, Inc.

Klay Thompson’s 13th Warriors season didn't go as planned for a five-time NBA All-Star guard in a contract year.

The 34-year-old impending free agent capped off statistically his worst campaign since 2013-14 with zero points on 0-for-10 shooting in a season-ending loss to the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Play-In Tournament on Tuesday -- possibly his last game in a Golden State uniform.

After completing his second full season back from a two-year absence (knee, 2019-20 and Achilles, 2020-21), where he was benched for 14 games in favor of rookie guard Brandin Podziemski toward the end of the season, Thompson explained to reporters on Wednesday the biggest lesson he learned from the 2023-24 journey.

“The biggest lesson that I learned,” Thompson pondered. “Probably I learned that you got to take -- you can't be a frontrunner. You can't shy away from the bad moments and just embrace the great ones. You got to embrace 'em all. That's for anything you do in life.”

Thompson’s days of waving four fingers in the face of opponents to symbolize his four NBA championships are long over, as he has learned to embrace not strictly being atop the league -- as a player or winner.

Now, he is accepting whatever the game of basketball throws at him.

“Yeah, I think I learned that the best ability is availability, and I thought I did that very well this season, playing through tough times or being available almost nightly, only missing so many -- a handful of games,” Thompson added. “So I learned that when you give yourself that shot of being out there every night, that's the best thing you can do for yourself, rather than just hanging onto those big scoring nights or whatever. 

“It's about just competing nightly.”

This past season also taught Thompson how to stay ready in the face of demotion and devastation. Temporarily sitting behind Podziemski was a different reality for Thompson, who previously had never come off the bench since becoming a staple in the Warriors’ starting five. 

The passing of Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević also taught Thompson, like his Warriors teammates and coaches, how to put a game face on while missing a loved one.

Thompson presumably will enter NBA free agency as a different person.

While his season averages of 17.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists likely will negatively impact what free-agent offers he’ll see, Thompson is as mentally sharp as ever, which is something he is proud about following this season’s ugly ending.

“Yeah, I mean, I'm a strong person. You don't take a couple years off of injury and come back and play that many games without being strong-willed and minded. So that's what I did learn about myself, is that it takes a lot of mental fortitude to play through injury and, yeah, shooting slumps, all that. 

“It takes a lot of willpower.”

One doesn’t achieve the career Thompson has had without soaking in every ounce of knowledge possible. 

The 2023-24 season arguably taught the Washington State product more about life as a basketball player than his 12 other years at the highest level.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us