Klay Thompson’s return date from a torn ACL is up in the air, but the Golden State Warriors shooting guard is planning to return well before July.
Thompson announced on Thursday that he is making himself available for the 2020 Olympic basketball team.
“I would love to play [for] Team USA,” Thompson told The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II. “That is the plan. I would love to be on the Olympic team.”
Thompson was a key player off the bench on the 2016 gold medal team, finishing fifth with 9.9 points per game. However, he shot only 36.4 percent from the field, including 32.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Even though his scoring was uneven in Rio de Janeiro, outside shooting is even more key in international play with a shorter 3-point line and more forms of zone defense allowed.
Thompson joins a growing list of NBA stars throwing their names into the ring for the 2020 games. Just this week, Thompson’s teammate Stephen Curry — who missed the 2016 Olympics because of knee and ankle injuries — and Damian Lillard committed to playing in Tokyo.
The trio of All-NBA guards were on USA Basketball’s initial list of 35 players under consideration for the FIBA World Cup, but none of them ended up playing. Even before tearing his ACL in the NBA Finals, Thompson indicated he was unlikely to play.
With dozens of other stars’ withdrawals, Team USA wound up in a disappointing seventh-place finish, which led to Jerry Colangelo calling out players who didn’t want to play in smaller tournaments. It’s early, but Colangelo should have a much stronger roster next summer.
Will Thompson recover in time for the Olympics?
It’s completely understandable that Thompson would want to compete in a second straight Olympic Games, but it’s an entirely different question if he’ll be able to come back.
The earliest timelines for Thompson peg him for a February return, but that may be a tad aggressive. Look no further than Derrick Rose, who missed the entire 2012-13 season while recovering from the same injury.
There’s not only the concern of when Thompson will be able to play again but whether he will have the same athleticism. Rose never reached his MVP level again after the initial injury and has battled health issues ever since.
This is not to say that Thompson will never be the same, but it’s conceivable it will take time for him to return to form. USA Basketball has a deep roster of guards and shooters to choose from — assuming players don’t drop out again — so they may not even want to roll the dice on Thompson, even if he’s willing.
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