Golden State Warriors' veteran draws praise from NBA legends after huge role shift

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Despite immediate frustration upon hearing of his move to the bench, Golden State Warriors' veteran Klay Thompson has embraced his new role as the franchise continues to push towards a playoff position.

Prior to the February 15 matchup against the Utah Jazz just before the All-Star break, Thompson hadn't come off the bench since his rookie year in 2012. He responded in better fashion than anyone could have predicted, drilling seven threes on his way to a season-high 35 points.

NBA legends Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have commended Klay Thompson for his successful move to the Golden State Warriors bench

Since then Thompson has continued to be productive, even if he hasn't reached the heights of that initial game as a reserve. The 34-year-old has averaged 18.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his eight games as a reserve.

In a recent episode of the 'Ticket and The Truth' podcast, NBA legends Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce praised Thompson for embracing his new role and outlined the danger the five-time All-Star now presents to opposing teams.

"Klay's now going against that team's second two-guard. He's used to starting against the starters, right? So now he's playing against -- coming off the bench -- I'm taking Klay in that matchup majority of the time. "

Kevin Garnett

The Warriors now have an enviable bench unit led by future hall-of-famers in Thompson and Chris Paul. Combined with improving youngsters Moses Moody and Trayce Jackson-Davis, along with one of the league's premier perimeter defenders in Gary Payton II, Golden State should continue to hold an elite bench unit.

While the Warriors have had an up-and-down season that sees them still sit ninth in the Western Conference, their bench has been a consistent strength throughout. Golden State hold a 1.9 bench net rating in their 62 games, ranked sixth in the league.

Led by Thompson's team-high 25 points, the Warrior bench outscored the Chicago Bulls 58-20 at Chase Center on Thursday night. Thompson's go ahead three-pointer in the final minute was counted by DeMar DeRozan who led the Bulls to a 125-122 victory.

Pierce, who began coming off the bench in his last couple of seasons with the LA Clippers, labelled the Warriors as having the highest IQ bench in the league with Thompson now joining Paul in the reserve unit.