Klay Thompson's torn Achilles hit everyone around the Warriors like a ton of bricks.
It's the second consecutive season the star shooting guard will miss after suffering a severe leg injury. Thompson missed all of last season while rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
It's a crushing blow for a Warriors team that was planning to vault back into NBA title contention behind a healthy Thompson and Steph Curry. It's even more brutal for Thompson who will miss two of his prime seasons due to leg injuries.
But there's reason to be optimistic that Thompson, who was playing the best basketball of his career before he tore his ACL, can return from his torn Achilles and be the player he was when he was last on the court.
The Warriors need only look around the NBA to see two stars, Kevin Durant and John Wall, who have looked great in their return from Achilles injuries.
Durant, who ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, put on a Brooklyn Nets uniform for the first time this preseason and picked up right where he left off prior to his injury. While he hasn't had the speed he had pre-injury (yet), Durant has shown he still has the explosiveness to get to the rim and he's still a 7-foot sharpshooter. During his two preseason games, we saw a lot of Durant either backing down defenders and shooting over them or getting to his spot and nailing pull-up jumpers.
On Friday against the Boston Celtics, Durant was the best player on the court, scoring 25 points on 9 for 16 shooting from the floor.
And Durant has admitted that after 18 months off, he still isn't all the way back. But it's coming.
"I was out for 18 months not playing an NBA game, not playing against that physicality, the speed of the game,” Durant said, according to The Daily News. “So it’s gonna take me some time to get my feet up under me, get my legs right.”
Steve Kerr has said he knows Durant's recovery will inspire Thompson, and Curry said that seeing Durant come back gives him "1000 percent" confidence in Thompson's return.
As for Wall, the Houston Rockets guard was one of the most explosive players in the NBA prior to his Achilles tear. But he claims he's even faster now, and he was outstanding during the preseason for the Rockets, averaging 16.3 points and 5.3 assists on 47.5 percent shooting in three games.
The numbers don't matter. It's the preseason. But what is important is that both Durant and Wall have returned and appear to be every bit as athletic and dangerous as they were before the injury.
It will be another long recovery process for Thompson, but there's every reason to believe he can join Durant and Wall in returning to his peak after a devastating Achilles injury.
The Warriors will get a front-row seat to Durant's return when they face the Nets in the season opener on Tuesday. Even if he torches them, it should bring a small smile to the Warriors' face knowing Thompson can follow that same path back to the top.