Over the past few weeks, it grew more and more imminent that Klay Thompson’s days as a starter for the Golden State Warriors were numbered.

The inevitable finally came to pass last February 15 when the Warriors took on the Utah Jazz in a road game at the Delta Center. Head coach Steve Kerr replaced Thompson with rookie Brandin Podziemski who has carved out a role for himself on this team through his high energy plays.

The move was expected to be quite an adjustment for Thompson who last came off the bench in his rookie season back in 2012. Since then, he started in his next 727 appearances for Golden State where he helped them win four NBA championships across six NBA Finals appearances.

However, Thompson took his reassignment in stride and delivered a classic performance in his return to the reserve unit. He checked into the contest with seven minutes left in the first quarter and wasted no time as he attempted his first shot of the game–which missed–just two seconds into his stint.

It actually took some time for Thompson to get into the rhythm of the game, yet the floodgates opened once he hit his first three-pointer of the night with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter. He scored 10 of the next 12 points for the Warriors to close the opening period and picked up where he left off in the second quarter where he tallied another seven points.

Come the second half, he reentered the match halfway through the third period and was even more spectacular. He turned back the clock as he scored 18 points over a blistering four-minute stretch to give Golden State an 18-point lead heading into the final quarter. At one point in time, Thompson hit three consecutive three-pointers, including a 28-footer from the top of the key that earned him cheers from the opposing crowd.


The 34-year-old Thompson put on a throwback performance, scoring 35 points through three periods, though the realities of the present eventually caught up to the Warriors in the fourth quarter.

Golden State allowed Utah to creep back into the game as their 18-point edge was whittled down to a mere point with less than a minute left to play. Jazz guard Collin Sexton even had a clear look for a three-pointer right before the buzzer that could have sent the game into overtime, but missed. Golden State walked away with a major sigh of relief and a 140-137 win as they improved to 27-26 this season.

Thompson’s hot streak faded by the fourth quarter where he missed all four of his attempts, yet this type of performance from him, what more in his first game back as a reserve, is highly encouraging. Having Thompson come off the bench balances out the Warriors’ weapons and gives their second unit the credible scoring presence that they have lacked since Jordan Poole’s departure last offseason.

This also allows Podziemski to play alongside the starters with whom he has already developed a strong chemistry. In this win versus Utah, the 20-year-old rookie played 33 minutes, second behind only Stephen Curry, over which he recorded 13 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.

Following this victory, Kerr shared with the media that he is going to continue bringing Thompson off the bench in the meantime. The initial results are quite encouraging, although it will be interesting to see the results that this experiment yields over a longer period of time. While this gamble does have a chance of reviving Golden State’s season, it also has the potential to accelerate the break-up of their title-winning trio of Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green.

For now, the move to bring Thompson off the bench can be tagged as a win, not only for the Warriors and their fans, but also for the general public as performances like this one from one of the greatest shooters in NBA history are always a sight to behold.