TEMPE, Ariz. — Klay Thompson didn’t think he would need the same patience this season as he did when he returned from his two-year hiatus last season.
He finally had a summer with no rehab and thought he was going to be able to pick up right where he left off in the NBA Finals. But after not being cleared to scrimmage during training camp and participating in just one of the Golden State Warriors’ preseason games, he finds himself needing to have more patience while regaining his conditioning.
« I feel good, but I still know I have another level to get to, » Thompson said after a shootaround at Arizona State University on Tuesday morning. « I think it will happen sooner than later. »
Through the first three games of the regular season, Thompson is averaging 23 minutes per night, playing 19 in their season-opener, 23 in their second game and 27 in their third. His usual minutes load ranges between 30 to 35 minutes.
Because of his minutes restriction, Thompson said he is still figuring out his rhythm on both ends of the floor. Against the Sacramento Kings, Thompson played well defensively but struggled with his shot. While the Warriors’ exploded for 50 points in the second quarter and 71 in the first half, Thompson finished the night with just eight points. He’s shooting 40 percent from the floor through the first three games of the season while attempting 12.3 shots per game.
« I’m such a perfectionist, I want to be great right now, » Thompson said. « But I got to realize, man, it’s a long season. I’d rather peak come playoff time rather than early November or into January. »
Thompson puts his early season ramp-up and performances in perspective with his return last year, when he rejoined the team in mid-January — halfway through the regular season when the team began to struggle and playoff race pressure started to grow.
« When you feel like you’re the reason your team goes through a slump, it’s nice to get that out the way early, » he said.
Thompson is relying on the Warriors’ training staff to guide him through his ramp-up, a process that he sometimes finds frustrating but has faith in through how they managed him last season.
The part of the equation he is more focused on — and has more control over — is the mental side.
« Don’t get discouraged with missed shots or missed rotations on defense, » Thompson said. « Sometimes when you come back from injury, you get in your own way. ‘Ahh, I might not be the same player. I might not do this or do that.’ But you just got to be grateful to be out there competing. When I play with that mindset, everything else flows so easily. »
He added: « I’m a very proud person. I forget that what I’ve been through, it’s real. … Although I want to have the big shooting nights, I know that comes with hard work and patience. That stuff is organic. »