Klay Thompson goes off for season-high 35 points after being moved to bench for 1st time since rookie year

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 03:  Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Atlanta Hawks during the second quarter at State Farm Arena on February 03, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Klay Thompson went off as a bench player. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Klay Thompson either enjoyed moving to the bench, or took it personally.

The four-time NBA champion and five-time All-Star came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season on Thursday after Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr replaced him with rookie Brandin Podziemski. The move snapped a streak of 727 games started for Thompson, who ended the Warriors' last game with a significant gaffe.

The move was a surprise but also a long time coming. No player on the Warriors has shown their age this season as much as the 34-year-old Thompson, who entered Thursday averaging 17.0 points per game (his worst mark since 2012-13) and shooting career worsts from the field (41.5%) and from 3-point range (36.8%).

It could have been a tough moment for a respected player. Instead, he responded with his best game of the season.

Thompson scored a season-high 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting with zero turnovers or personal fouls. He also surpassed the 15,000-point mark in his career.

If Thompson minded the move to the bench, he didn't show it at halftime while speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area, when he credited the role for his "fresh legs," or after the game when he provided some prospective, via Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News:

“More importantly I realized I’m gonna play a lot of minutes. So you have to let the ego when you think about coming off the bench. I thought of Manu Ginobili, that guy has four rings and a gold medal and he came off the bench his whole career.”

Thompson is now set to get some more rest via the All-Star break, with the Warriors' next game scheduled at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 22. It appears he will be coming off the bench for that game too, as Kerr told reporters after the game he'll stick with Thompson off the bench moving forward, though he also said it "doesn't mean it's permanent."

Thompson's performance Thursday is a good indication he still has something left in the tank, but you can't blame for the Warriors for wanting to see just how much juice "Bench Klay" has.