After illness forced him to miss last Tuesday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers, it was hardly a positive return for Klay Thompson in the Golden State Warriors' recent back-to-back against the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks.
Whether Thompson was still hindered by illness or not, the veteran shooting-guard appeared lethargic across the two outings on Friday and Saturday. The 33-year-old played just under 27 minutes against the Grizzlies, recording 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting and 2-of-9 from three-point range.
But if that performance could be considered underwhelming, Saturday's overtime loss to the Hawks was a flat-out horror show for Thompson who shot 4-of-19 from the floor for 10 points in over 35 minutes of playing time.
Recent history suggests the Golden State Warriors are a better team without franchise legend Klay Thompson
Thompson shot 4-of-22 from beyond the arc across both matchups, leaving a raft of his jumpshots short in an indication that he's not at peak physical capacity. Most notable was the sharpshooter's exclusion from the closing lineup against the Grizzlies, with Steve Kerr favoring rookie guard Brandin Podziemski alongside Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Draymond Green. The same would have likely happened against the Hawks if not for Wiggins' ankle injury in the first-half of the 141-134 overtime defeat.
It's worth noting that after a rough start to the season, Thompson had some form over recent weeks. Ahead of his absence against the Sixers, the five-time All-Star had recorded at least 24 points in four of his past seven games.
Regardless, fans were left frustrated at Thompson's back-to-back performances, particularly against Atlanta where Golden State wasted an historic night from Stephen Curry who became just the second player (alongside Kobe Bryant) to score 60 points at 35 years of age or older.
Given Thompson was a key reason behind the Warriors loss to the Hawks, social media was quick to highlight the team's recent production with and without the four-time champion over recent seasons.
The numbers don't lie -- Golden State have a 74-71 record with Thompson since the start of the 2021-22 season (he returned from injury in January 2022). In that same period, they're 44-21 without him. Also notable is the fact the Warriors are 33-8 when Curry and Green play without the third member of the legendary trio.
In fairness to Thompson, the stark difference stems from the franchise's incredible run to start the 2021-22 season. If you narrow the period down to the start of last season, Golden State is 57-56 with Thompson and 8-7 without him.
As a result, it's hard to categorically say that this version of the Warriors is worse with Thompson. However, the fact they're not exponentially better when he does play is a disappointing reflection on someone getting paid $43.2 million this season.