Klay Thompson’s return can’t come soon enough.
The last time we saw Thompson on a basketball court was Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He suffered a torn ACL in that game, which sidelined him for the entire 2019-20 season. He then tore his Achilles prior to the 2020-21 season, sidelining him another full season.
It’s still unknown then Thompson will suit up for the Warriors again, but the latest reporting points to him potentially returning around Christmas.
We can only hope that Thompson will come back as close to full strength as possible because prior to his injuries, he was one of the most explosive scorers and electrifying talents in the league.
On the anniversary of one of Thompson’s most memorable performances, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and relive the six times he broke basketball.
3s on 3s on 3s on 3s
In 2003, Kobe Bryant set a new NBA record in making 12 3-pointers in a single game. Two years later, Donyell Marshall tied that record.
Bryant and Marshall’s record stood for more than a decade. Stephen Curry tied it at the end of the 2015-16 season, only to break it with 13 3-pointers near the start of the 2016-17 season.
Thompson then one-upped his Splash Brother on Oct. 29, 2018 with 14 3-pointers in a win over the Bulls.
Thompson finished the game with 52 points on 18-for-29 shooting from the field and 14-for-24 shooting from 3, all in — wait for it — 26 minutes of play. (Thompson took a seat on the bench with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter and never returned with the game all but over). 10 of his 3s came in the first half, tying a record held by Chandler Parsons for the most 3s ever made in a half.
Oh, and Thompson only took nine dribbles.
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Dribble only when necessary
On Jan. 8, 2019, Thompson scored a game-high 43 points in a win over the Knicks, doing so on 18-for-29 shooting from the field and 7-for-16 from 3-point range.
The craziest part of it all? He took only four dribbles.
For perspective, there were a total of 66 players who averaged at least four dribbles whenever they touched the ball in the 2020-21 season.
For Thompson to score 43 points on less dribbles than some players use in a single possession … unreal.
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A quarter for the record books
Everyone who played for the Kings in the 2014-15 season probably believes in the hot hand theory, because they had front-row seats to Thompson turning into a human flamethrower in the middle of an NBA game.
Not only did Thompson light the Kings up with 52 points, but he scored 37 points in the third quarter alone, setting the NBA record for points scored in a single quarter that was previously held by Kevin Love.
Thompson made even more history by shooting a perfect 13-for-13 from the field and 9-for-9 from the perimeter in the period, tying the NBA record for field goals made in a quarter and breaking the record for 3s made in a quarter.
“I was one of the luckiest NBA players ever to play with Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, David Robinson and some of the greatest players ever,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “As many spectacular things as Michael did, which he did nightly, I never saw him do that.”
Klay Thompson really scored 37 points in a single quarter.
💧Record for PTS in a quarter
💧Record for 3s in a quarter
💧Record for FG in a quarter (tied) pic.twitter.com/RFD4wtEvhj
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 12, 2020
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You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take
Everyone who played for the Lakers in the 2018-19 season probably believes in the hot hand theory, too.
In a blowout win over the Lakers, Thompson scored 44 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the perimeter. He started the game shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from 3-point range before missing his one and only 3-point attempt of the night with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter.
In making 10 straight 3s, Thompson tied the NBA record for consecutive made 3s to start the game.
Want to guess who Thompson shares the record with? Nope, not Curry. Not Ray Allen either. Not Damian Lillard, James Harden or Duncan Robinson.
The answer is…
Ty Lawson, believe it or not.
The first to do it
How’s this for history: Thompson is the only player to ever score 60 points while playing less than 30 minutes, per Stathead.
In a win over the Pacers on Dec. 5, 2016, Thompson scored a career-best 60 points on 21-for-33 shooting from the field and 8-for-14 from 3-point range while logging only 29 minutes. With the Warriors leading by 33 points after three quarters of play, Thompson watched the entire fourth quarter on the bench.
Thompson’s dribble count? 11. So more than five, but not by much.
S/O to my squad for setting me up 2night! I don’t think I had to take more then 5 dribbles the whole game lol
— klay thompson (@KlayThompson) December 6, 2016
Additionally, Thompson had the ball in his possession for a grand total of 90 seconds in his 29 minutes on the court.
A comeback for the ages
You can’t tell the story of Thompson’s career without Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
Coming off of a record-breaking regular season that saw the Warriors win 73 games, Golden State found itself trailing Oklahoma City 3-1 in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Warriors defeated the Thunder in Game 5 in Golden State to keep their season alive and traveled to Oklahoma City for Game 6.
Need you be reminded, that was a championship-level Thunder team that featured Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. The three of them had the Warriors on the ropes heading into the fourth quarter of Game 6 with an eight-point lead, but that’s when Thompson took matters into his own hands.
Following a 14-point third quarter, Thompson poured in 19 more points in the fourth quarter to lead a Warriors comeback and force a Game 7. Thompson was once again incredibly efficient, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 from 3-point range.
Pretty much every shot Thompson took in that fourth quarter was of a, uh, high degree of difficulty.
In the 2016 WCF, Klay Thompson hit 11 3-pointers against the Thunder to set a playoff record.
“Game 6 Klay” is the stuff of legend. Will we see it again tonight? 💦 pic.twitter.com/qYuABpljy7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 13, 2019
Thompson led the Warriors with 41 points in the game on 11-for-18 shooting from the perimeter, setting an NBA record for 3s made in a playoff game.
The Warriors went on to defeat the Thunder in Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals, becoming only the 10th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs … only to soon become the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals.
Even so, that Game 6 against the Thunder was one of the greatest shooting exhibitions we’ve ever seen in the playoffs and may ever see.