NBA

Kerr considering bench role as Thompson's best option

By Sports Desk February 16, 2024

Steve Kerr is considering how best to use Klay Thompson after the 34-year-old responded to being benched with an emphatic showing for the Golden State Warriors.

Thompson was benched for the first time since 2012 on Thursday, but responded with his best performance of the season as the Warriors beat the Utah Jazz 140-137.

The small forward finished with 35 points and six rebounds. Thompson had started 727 straight games.

Golden State's win marked Kerr's 500th victory as Warriors coach, and he believes Thompson, who is averaging 17.3 points per game this season.

"It's been a tricky season for him and for us," said Kerr.

"It's not as easy to do what Klay did five or six years ago for him.

"I think this could be a good balance to get the best out of Klay and to get the best out of our team.

"He's just such a competitor. I've watched him win championships. I've seen him hit a million big shots. I've seen him guard the toughest guys in the league.

"Klay's a champion. He's an incredible player, a great person."

Thompson has now surpassed 15,000 points, becoming the sixth Golden State player, and the 153rd player in total, to do so.

"You can do two things: You can pout or you can go out there and respond," said Thompson. "I thought I did the latter very well tonight.

"Throughout the game, when I'm running with the second unit, I realised I might be more of a focal point to the offense.

"That's a fun role to play. I just wanted to take it upon myself to prove to coach that I was going to respond like the champ I am.

"I thought about [former Spurs great] Manu Ginobli, that guy has four rings and a gold medal, and he came off the bench his whole career, and I don't think anyone looks down on his Hall of Fame candidacy.

"He's one of the greats. And I thought, I mean, I embraced it before tip, and I deserved it really."

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