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Are the Warriors the championship favorites after the return of Klay Thompson?

Is Klay Thompson the final piece of Golden State’s championship puzzle?

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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It’s almost been one week since Klay Thompson made his highly anticipated return to the Golden State Warriors after being away from NBA action for 941 days. He tore his ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and tore his Achilles right before the start of the 2020 NBA season. Two years of Thompson’s prime were spent rehabbing notoriously difficult injuries to recover from as the Warriors failed to make the playoffs for two straight seasons.

Forward to January of 2022 and it’s like those two years that Thompson was gone never happened. Golden State is once again a title contender with the second-best record in the NBA. Stephen Curry, although he has been in a shooting slump recently, has played like an MVP candidate for a majority of the season. Draymond Green, when healthy, has played at a defensive player of the year level. The Warriors have a deep roster with key offseason additions making a huge impact on the team. Because of all this, Golden State fans are very optimistic that Thompson’s return is the last piece of their championship puzzle according to the latest SB Nation Reacts poll.

Thompson’s return to NBA action has looked better than most people expected. Despite his injuries, there was never any doubt that his shooting, his off-ball movement, and his ability to draw defenders away just by being on the court would return. What’s been a pleasant surprise has been his confidence to attack the rim by getting separation off the dribble.

Although it’s exciting to see Thompson play basketball again, Warriors fans should still exercise patience with him. The team has restricted him to about 20 minutes per game so far and has decided to keep him inactive for back-to-backs. Because of his limited playing time in live games, it may take a while for Thompson to build chemistry with his newer teammates other than, Curry, Green, Andre Iguodala, and Kevon Looney. Luckily for the Warriors, their hot start to the season gives them a buffer to build that chemistry as they approach the second half of the season and into the playoffs.

Thompson’s return makes the Warriors a significantly better team. If he can return close to pre-injury form and build chemistry with his teammates, a fully healthy Golden State roster should definitely be in the conversation for championship favorites.

Regardless, Klay Thompson is back to playing NBA basketball and that is a win that Warriors’ fans everywhere will happily take for now.

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