There’s nothing quite like a Klay Thompson heat-check moment.
After two or three bombs drop, you begin to wonder whether you’re going to witness something special. There is shortness of breath, palms get a little sweaty and there is a tingle in the spine…and that’s you watching.
Amongst the heat, Thompson is as cool as a cucumber.
The Golden State Warriors received something many never thought they’d be able to see again — a Klay Thompson heat check.
Time in the sporting limelight is brief enough, so we can feel rightfully aggrieved that a couple of cruel injuries have robbed us of more than two years of the mercurial Klay Thompson and the famous heat-checks that we associate with this splash brother.
Since his return, Thompson has teased us with glimpses of his freakish talents – yet for much of January, Thompson was still shaking off the rust of his two-year absence.
In fairness, the hype surrounding Thompson’s return was a little overwhelming.
Watching him, it felt as though he was carrying the weight of those expectations, desperate to show the world he was still the same player – it seemed as though he was pressing a little too hard in search of the spectacular.
His 23-point outing in Dallas and late dagger against the Nets were steps in the right direction. He was gathering a rhythm and starting to let the game come to him. It was only a matter of time before we would be treated to that famous heat-check once again.
On Thursday night against the Kings, it finally arrived.
The aura that has surrounded Thompson for much of his career was back. Thompson rediscovered his hot hand and splashed home a season-high 7 three-pointers to catapult the Warriors to their 8th straight win.
Thompson’s 7 made threes took his career tally to 1828 – taking him past the late great Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s all-time threes list.
If you need any further evidence of Thompson’s almost supernatural shot-making, consider this. Thompson passed Bryant’s tally in just 625 games – less than half of the 1,346 games it took Bryant to set his mark.
Sacramento’s Worst Nightmare
History suggests that Klay Thompson likes playing against the Sacramento Kings.
It was almost preordained that the first vintage shooting display since Thompson’s return would come against the Kings. Thompson connected on 6 straight triples in his first 10 minutes of action. He finished the game with 23 points on 77.8 percent shooting from deep.
Perhaps Thompson was mentally reminiscing about the 37 points he scored in a quarter against the Kings in January 2015– undeniably the greatest heat-check moment ever.
Seven years may have passed since that iconic moment, but Thursday night’s date with the Kings reminded us that Thompson still has the magic. Surely, great news for Dubs fans and for anyone who enjoys watching the best doing their thing.
Thompson capped off the night with a pull-up, contested, fading three on a 3-on-1 break — to seal the game. Nothing new about that, but after an absence of more than two years, it was as sweet as watching him do it for the first time.
Klay has found his groove
After making only 30.2 percent of his threes in his first 6 games back from injury – Thompson is now shooting at 46 percent from distance over the last 5 games.
An added wrinkle to his game since return has been the assists.
Notorious as a player who will let it fly at any opportunity – Thompson finished with 7 assists against the Kings in just 24 minutes of play. To put that in some context, he only had 7+ assists in 2 games in all of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons combined.
‘I’m happy, but I want to build on this. I want to shoot the lights out all the time’, said Thompson after the game.
Images of what Klay Thompson could conjure up before his serious injuries are indelibly stamped in the minds of fans. Many of the same fans would have felt some nervous anticipation about whether we would see that Klay Thompson ever again.
Fear no more, he’s back. When Thompson’s in the zone, he’s at a level that others can only dream of.