Golden State Warriors to continue controversial lineup decision after All-Star break

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz
Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Klay Thompson entered Thursday's game with 728 career starts and 37 games as a reserve, none of which had come since his rookie season in 2011-12. The veteran sharpshooter has become a staple of the starting five for more than a decade, but his hold on the starting shooting-guard spot was relinquished against the Utah Jazz.

Thompson's stumbling form had warranted a move to the bench. Equally, the impressive play of rookie guard Brandin Podziemski had deserved a promotion, with the 20-year-old recording a career-high 25 points, along with seven rebounds and eight assists, against the LA Clippers on Wednesday night.

Steve Kerr has confirmed that Golden State Warriors' veteran Klay Thompson will continue coming off the bench after the All-Star break

While the form of Thompson and Podziemski may have made the decision an obvious and sensible one, there was still an element of shock when news emerged that the future Hall-of-Famer had been demoted to the bench.

There was some trepidation on how Thompson would respond. The grappling between his former prime self and this newer version has been evident over the last 12 months, and has often led to negative body language that was even seen against the Clippers the night before.

But any anxiety was soon relieved once Thompson hit the floor, with the 34-year-old responding in the best way possible. He had 17 points in a dynamic first-half, then added 18 in less than five third-quarter minutes -- it was vintage Thompson producing a shooting stretch that few others in NBA history have been capable of.

Like the rest of his teammates, Thompson went cold in the fourth as the Warriors only just held the fast-finishing Jazz at bay. Still, his 35 points were a season-high, having come on 13-of-22 shooting and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc.

Head coach Steve Kerr confirmed Thompson would continue coming off the bench after the All-Star break, though stopped short of suggesting it's a permanent move. Thompson himself gave a candid response about his attitude to coming off the bench, even mentioning San Antonio Spurs' legend Manu Ginóbili and the legacy he built as a sixth-man.

"This morning, Steve and I had a good talk about it and you can do two things -- you can pout or go out there and respond. I thought I did the latter very well tonight...Just got to let the ego go when you think of coming off the bench."

Klay Thompson

It's all about consistency now for Thompson -- the gap between his best and his worst has been far too extravagant, ultimately leading to his benching against the Jazz. It will be fascinating to see how this new role will impact his ability to rediscover regular production, rather than the up-and-down nature that's been his form this season.

manual