Klay Thompson shakes off the rust in Santa Cruz on Monday, practicing with the Warriors.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Recreation & Sports

Hey, it’s Klay! Splash Brother takes to the hardwood in Santa Cruz to kick-start road back to Golden State

There was no Stephen Curry at Kaiser Permanente Arena on Monday, but his Splash Brothers sidekick, Klay Thompson, took to the hardwood looking to work his way back from injury and join the big club in San Francisco.

Klay Thompson hangs out on the left wing, where he receives passes from members of the Santa Cruz Warriors coaching staff at Kaiser Permanente Arena on Monday afternoon. He immediately splashes home six 3-pointers in a row.

On the rare occasion that a shot ricochets off the rim, he shakes his head in the classic look of “Klay disappointment” — one of the many looks Golden State Warriors fans have been missing from their superstar guard the past two seasons.

At the free-throw line, missing seems to be an impossible event, as countless shots sink through the net without even so much as grazing the inside of the rim. The court buzzer goes off and Thompson walks down the tunnel with the rest of the Sea Dubs.

There was plenty of splash in Klay Thompson's stroke on Monday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Thompson, along with James Wiseman, Golden State’s first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft, are with the G League club for a few days this week as they continue to work their way back into NBA shape.

Thompson, 31 and a three-time NBA champion, has missed the past two seasons with a torn ACL he suffered during a dramatic Game 6 loss to Toronto in the 2019 NBA Finals, then a torn Achilles that came during a pickup game in Los Angeles the next year. Wiseman, 20, is recovering from a torn meniscus suffered last April.

The team didn’t make Thompson available after his workout, but Santa Cruz coach Seth Cooper said that Steph Curry’s wingman and co-”Splash Brother” is in high spirits.

“There’s a lot of excitement there, he seems very happy to be down here and be a part of the team for however long that is,” Cooper said. “He’s been great here and you can see that he’s ready to push through this last little bit as he ends this journey and begins the next one.”

Santa Cruz Warriors coach Seth Cooper.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

He’s been great here and you can see that he’s ready to push through this last little bit as he ends this journey and begins the next one.

— Seth Cooper

While Thompson is participating in only practices and scrimmages as of now, he has been fully cleared for basketball activities. Raymond Ridder, Golden State’s senior vice president for communications, said Thompson isn’t expected to see game action “anytime soon.”

“Everything we’ve done was fully 100%, there was no holding him back,” Cooper said. “It was really just letting him go and having him experience playing all out and he looked really good doing that.”

Cooper, having worked as a player development coach with Golden State prior to his stint as Sea Dubs head coach, believes Thompson’s progress is right where it needs to be.

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“He’s been looking great — I was coaching the other team [in a scrimmage] and he came out and made four or five shots right away,” Cooper said. “We called timeout and told our guys we probably don’t need a scouting report but that No. 11 can really shoot. I’m sure it’s not where he wants to be, but I think he’s in a really good spot.”

Cooper added that Thompson has approached activities in Santa Cruz just like any of the Sea Dubs’ own players would.

“I think that’s where Klay’s really unique, his ability to blend in with everybody,” he said. “Based on how he interacts with staff, other players, and everyone around him. If you didn’t know who he was, it would seem like he was just another guy on the team, but obviously very good at basketball.”

Klay Thompson was nearly flawless at the free-throw line.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Thompson has shared good experiences with the Santa Cruz organization, as his brother Mychel is a former member of the team and even won a championship with the Sea Dubs in 2015.

“He’s referred to the championship banner a few times and said that his brother was on the team and maybe this year, having a Thompson in the building again would bring another championship,” said Cooper. “So remembering that, he has some fond memories of being in Santa Cruz.”

Although Klay Thompson’s main focus is getting back into the full swing of game mode, Cooper said that he has mentioned hitting the beach when possible.

“He has talked to me about going and doing a little bodyboarding at the beach,” he said. “He said the surfers don’t like that, but he could get on social media and get a bunch of guys out there to bodyboard with him.”

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