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SACRAMENTO — Klay Thompson was dressing in his corner booth in the visiting locker room at Golden 1 Center Sunday night. Right away, you could tell that the sniper wasn’t in the best mood because he popped some popcorn while putting on his boots.
Members of the media camped out near the locker room entrance, waiting for players to become available. The Golden State Warriors just suffered a 122-115 loss to the Sacramento Kings, falling to 0-7 on the road to start the season.
Thompson, who was in the worst shooting start of his NBA career, scored 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting (including 5-of-13 from three-point range) to go with seven boards, a block, and a steal in 32 minutes.
He let veteran Warriors PR Ray Ridder know he didn’t feel like speaking that night, but the veteran guard eventually changed his mind and gave Bleacher Report an exclusive interview.
When he mentioned that he had been a part of all four championships the Warriors had in a span of nearly a decade, Thompson quickly interjected without letting the question materialize.
“You’re right that I was here for those titles,” Thompson told B/R emphatically. “People act as if they have forgotten.”
The 6’6 guard refers to those who criticized his slow start. He averaged 14.7 points, his lowest production since the 2011-12 rookie season, and is career-lows overall (35.1 percent) and from three-point range (33 percent).
Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons because he tore his ACL and Achilles tendon in consecutive years. He returned last season and averaged a remarkable 20.4 points while shooting 38.5 percent from long distance in 32 regular season games.
However, due to his slow start, the five-time All-Star has faced criticism from commentators like Charles Barkley – who surprisingly called him out – to those wondering if it was time Jordan Paul started on him. (Full disclosure: Charles Barkley is an analyst at Turner Sports, which owns Bleacher Report.)
The 32-year-old didn’t care what critics said in the past. why now?
“Yeah, it’s true, but I feel like I deserve more credit for fighting through all those injuries,” Thompson told B/R. “You helped a team win a championship last year and people still want to discredit what you do.
“You know what I learned about that? You can’t please everyone. But for me individually, it’s about rediscovering that form of competence and that two-way play that made me great. And I feel good on my way there.”
Defending champions have some spinning issues that need to be resolved. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been juggling the secondary lineup trying to find the right core.
This year, barring off-season trades, Golden State will have to rely on some or all of its promising inexperienced talent, including James Wiseman, Jonathan Cuminga, and Moses Moody, to turn into reliable second-unit contributors.
This is a new hurdle for the Warriors.
“It’s a lot different,” said Draymond Green. “For the most part, when we got off the bench, we had an old statesman [in years past]. Someone who would come off the bench, slow things down, and right the ship. It’s different now.
“The reality is that the first person to come off the bench is usually him [Jordan Poole], and JP is a sixth writer. This is a different feeling. And I believe [past second units] It used to be a different crime, but it’s more like it is, and we have to figure that out.”
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“We have to understand that what you’re used to is Steve [Curry] He exits the game, the attack changes, and there are more combos. But with Jordan, it will still be the same as you get with Steve. And I think players really have to adapt to that, and it took a while to adjust to that.
For the majority of these guys [in the second unit]They don’t play much with Steve so they don’t really get it… unlike when Jordan comes with us. We’ve been playing Steve for a long time, and we understand the randomness of that. I think that group should start to understand the randomness of it, but like I said, that takes time.”
The Warriors are currently 6-8 after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 132-95 at Chase Center on Monday in their second game of a streak.
The Warriors got back on the road on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. The team is currently winless outside of the Bay Area.
But spiritually, we’re lucky to get out that way early. On the bright side, I’m glad I’m going through this now compared to a few months from now. Don’t panic. We’re 14 games in. It’s a long season. We’re facing A challenge to come back, which is very difficult. And then try to integrate the new guys. It’s going to take some time but we’ll figure it out.”
And Thompson reiterated that he would find out, too.
“I was there last year,” Thompson told B/R.
Chris Hynes covered the NBA for 13 years, with previous stops at Yahoo, ESPN, Comcast Sportsnet Northwest, and Cleveland.com. You can also find him roaming the sidelines on the NBA on TNT broadcasts every week.