The time has come: Klay Thompson will make his long-awaited return for the Warriors on Sunday, January 9, when they host the Cavaliers.
Thompson has been out of the game for two full seasons after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in the 2019 NBA Finals and his right Achilles tendon just prior to the 2020-21 season. The keen shooting guard joins a Golden State team that already owns the NBA’s best record, in hopes of taking it to the top as a title contender.
This means that Fantasy Basketball GMs who have used an IR spot, a very valuable IR spot, given all the COVID-19 absences, in Thompson up to this point in the season will finally be rewarded for their patience.
While the Warriors have already announced that Thompson will not play consecutively as part of his injury management plan, the three-time NBA champion will still add a lot of value to his team during the final stretch of the fantasy season and in the playoffs of fantasy.
How will Thompson’s return affect his team and other Warriors players in Fantasy Basketball?
Fantasy Basketball: the impact of Klay Thompson’s return
What can you expect from Thompson?
Although Thompson will not play consecutively, the Warriors only have six games of games on consecutive days for the remainder of the season. That means he should be a lot more available than, say, Kyrie Irving, who also recently returned.
MORE: What’s the fantasy impact of Kyrie’s return?
During Thompson’s last full season in 2018-19, he averaged 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals and also scored 3.1 triples per game. Unsurprisingly, his shots were efficient, converting 46.7 percent from the field, 40.2 percent from 3 and 81.6 percent from the free throw line.
While it would be unfair to expect Thompson to return from a two-year absence and immediately average more than 20 points per game, I think he will eventually hit that mark this season.
If you play in a points league, you will make enough contributions across the board to add value for the night beyond mere scoring. If you play in a head-to-head category league, it will be even more valuable as you can expect it to contribute in points, 3s, steals, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. Plus, he never averaged more than two turnovers per game during any season in his career, so he’ll help keep that number low as well.
It will be interesting to see how many minutes you have limited to the beginning of your comeback, but don’t let the first few performances discourage your view of Thompson. Once the speed of the game is back, it will be a valuable cog in your playoff career.
Should I try to change Thompson?
If someone is willing to part ways with a player of equal or greater value than you won’t have to worry about nights rest or minute restriction, why not?
Thompson is a fan favorite, the kind of player anyone would love to have on their fantasy team. As mentioned above, I think it will have a huge impact on fantasy GMs during the final stretch of the season and will really hit the mark during the playoff push, but you may be able to move it for a player who has no restrictions.
MORE: Fantasy Basketball: Time to part ways with injured stars like Zion and Kawhi?
With that being said, you’ll probably want to trade Thompson before he makes his debut to make the most of his true value. Otherwise, you may have to wait until he is comfortable on the pitch without limitations, which may not be until after your league’s trade deadline.
Which Warriors players are most affected by Thompson’s return?
Stephen CurryThe value of fantasy should not be affected at all by Thompson’s return. The same goes for Draymond Green, which is not on his list due to his scoring performance anyway.
The two players who will be most affected by Thompson’s return are Andrew Wiggins Y Jordan Poole.
While Wiggins is certainly still worth listing, his score may take a hit. As of this writing, he’s averaging 19.1 points and 2.3 triples per game, but he may not see 14.5 field goal attempts every night once Thompson takes the floor. Wiggins will still have his scoring moments, and he grabs enough rebounds and counts enough defensive counting stats to remain relevant to fantasy. I also don’t expect his playing time to take a hit, which bodes well for his production.
However, it will be worth keeping a close eye on Poole during Thompson’s early games.
Poole has been a microwave scorer for the Warriors all season and will be the number one scoring option on his second unit. Should I expect him to continue averaging 17.5 points and 2.6 triples per night? Probably not. But I still hope he has opportunities to make a fantastic impact as a scorer and 3-pointer that also increases his free throw percentage and adds some assists and draws here and there.
Don’t leave Poole right away just because Thompson is ready to return. Wait and see how your minutes are affected, and then make a decision based on your production.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.