The Warriors picked up their NBA-best 28th win Saturday night when they beat the Utah Jazz 123-116 in Salt Lake City, and they did it without Draymond Green, who is in the league's health and safety protocol.
Even more impressive than winning at Vivant Arena without their heartbeat is that the Warriors are the best team in the NBA and five-time All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson hasn't even returned yet. Neither has 2020 No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman.
Thompson is closer to returning than Wiseman and he is the established star getting set to rejoin a juggernaut. Klay finally scrimmaged with Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and the rest of the healthy Warriors rotation players this week, and after he made 24 straight 3-pointers during pregame warmups, his impending season debut was all anyone wanted to talk about after the Warriors' win Saturday night.
"It's impressive man to see what he does, what he can do," Wiggins told reporters in Utah after the game. "The impact he has defensively, offensively, it's crazy. I'm excited to play with him, excited for him to get back. The league's going to be in trouble when he gets back."
Wiggins and Thompson have yet to play in a game for the Warriors together despite the former No. 1 overall draft pick joining the franchise on Feb. 6, 2020 -- nearly two years ago. That's how long Klay has been out.
Thompson's Splash Brother, Curry, admitted after the game that he has thought about what it will be like when his running mate returns.
"All the time," Curry said. "We have no idea what our rotations are going to look like. We have so many capable guys to fill out both units that we put out there. Different looks we can put together, and with Klay, with Wise, the young guys, a lot of options with what we can do. Everybody has to stay locked in, stay ready. Keep grinding. It's a long season and things can change pretty quickly.
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"But with Klay especially, what he does best and what he provides in terms of spacing, shooting ability and defensively, all those things once he gets back to who he is, it's going to be fun."
While Wiggins never has played with Thompson, Andre Iguodala has, and he recounted a conversation he and Wiggins had after scrimmaging with Thompson on Thursday in Denver.
"Allen Iverson always used to joke that Maurice Cheeks had a "Doc Eye." He would only pass to Dr. J.," Iguodala said. "And in the scrimmage, I kept passing it to Klay, but it wasn't on purpose. And like the fifth, sixth time, I'm like 'I'm not trying to pass to him' and I just keep finding him and he just keeps scoring. And Wiggs and I were talking about it after the game and I'm like 'I kept getting assists from him, but I wasn't looking for him.' He's like 'Bro, he doesn't dribble.' And I'm like 'You know what it's going to open up for other guys?' And he was like 'It's crazy.' "
It's been a long 30-plus months for Thompson. He tore his left ACL on June 13, 2019 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. As he was nearing his return from that injury, he tore his right Achilles on Nov. 18, 2020. There have been good days, there have been bad days and there have been overly emotional days.
And Curry knows the most important thing is that Thompson simply is able to do the thing he loves to do the most back in his life.
"We talked about it a little bit," Curry said. "It's exciting. It's not about anything other than him getting back to playing basketball and that's what we're all looking forward to. He's worked so hard and been through so much in two and a half years, so for him to have an opportunity to play basketball again and not be rehabbing, enjoying himself, enjoying basketball, you can see it in his face. He knows it's close and that's cool to watch."
The Warriors haven't announced when Thompson officially will play his first NBA game in over two and a half years, but everyone knows it's a matter of days at this point. Every Warriors fans can't wait for his return and every non-Warriors fan is dreading what it will mean.
As Wiggins hinted at, the Warriors might break the league again if Thompson quickly returns to his All-Star form. The Warriors already are the best team in the league and Klay very likely could make them unbeatable when the playoffs roll around in the spring.