Klay Thompson’s return: How good can Warriors’ superstar be after Achilles injury?

It won’t be long until we get to see Klay Thompson play basketball again.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “there is optimism” that Thompson will return on Sunday, January 9, when the Warriors host the Cavaliers at the Chase Center.

If Thompson adapts on Sunday, it will be his first NBA action since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, marking 941 days between appearances.

After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2019, Thompson missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season before tearing his Achilles tendon in November 2020, causing him to miss the entirety of the 2020-21 season and the start of this season.

As he takes the floor after two devastating injuries, what can we expect from Klay Thompson? For further guidance, TSN contacted our medical expert, Dr. Michael S. George of the KSF Orthopedic Center in Houston, Texas, who had a lot of information on players returning from Achilles injuries.

How good can Klay Thompson be after an Achilles injury?

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According to Dr. George, simply returning to competition is a big step for Thompson, as he shared with TSN that “a 2017 study by Trofa and his colleagues published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 86 athletes with an Achilles rupture. in the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. 30 percent never played again. “

Dr. George continued, adding that “for the returning athletes, participation in the game averaged 75 percent in Year 1 and 82 percent in Year 2 of their pre-injury levels and performance statistics. they were significantly worse one and two years after the injury. “

Regarding game participation, it’s fair to assume that Thompson will be under a heavy minute restriction when he returns to action. In the 2018-19 season, Thompson averaged 21.5 points per game in 34.0 minutes per game.

This season, the Warriors have developed a lot of depth on the wing and can afford to play Thompson about 15 to 20 minutes a game to potentially ease him toward that 72 percent mark, which would work out to about 25 minutes a game.

In terms of his level of play, Thompson remains one of the best shooters in the game, as evidenced by a recent video of him draining 24 3-pointers in a row, as well as a series of first-hand accounts of his game during Warriors practice. .

Dr. George cited a recent example of Achilles recovery as an encouraging sign that Thompson is returning to a high level of play: “Kevin Durant has returned from Achilles repair and has certainly regained his pre-injury quality of play.” .

Like Durant, Thompson suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. As Durant and Thompson are right-handed, suffering the same injury could also be a positive sign for Thompson’s return as Dr. George told NBA.com in 2020 that “Most people jump off their non-dominant leg, so an Achilles tendon injury on that side would affect the jump more than if it were on the dominant side.”

In short, there are a number of reasons to be encouraged that Thompson can perform at a high level once he gets back on the court.

Despite turning 32 in February, Thompson’s elite shooting ability will allow his game to age gracefully as it relies heavily on his athleticism on the defensive side of the court.