The Los Angeles Lakers had the odds stacked against them after their subpar start at the beginning of the 2022-23 season. Having that poorly constructed roster full of guards around LeBron James and Anthony Davis was not going to get the job done.
Thankfully, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was proactive at the trade deadline and made several moves to improve the roster by bringing in D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba.
It was an absolute roster overhaul more than halfway through the season, but L.A. was able to win on the fly and earned a spot in the Play-In Tournament. After narrowly beating the Minnesota Timberwolves and then taking out the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers had to deal with the then defending champion Golden State Warriors in the second round.
Klay Thompson was looking forward to playing his hometown team for the first time in his postseason career. But, the Lakers went on to win the series in six games and now Thompson reflected on what he learned from it, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
“Stings bad,” Thompson said. “Bad. Because you want to win against a team that is a division rival, you want to beat your hometown, you want to beat your friends who are fans of the team, you want to beat LeBron (James) obviously. We have such a deep history with him. Kudos to him. He’s still out here playing at the highest level he possibly can. So, yeah, it stings. Any time you come up short of your goal, and we have many times, it’s just motivation. It’s fuel. You think about it the whole summer. How could you have prepared better?”
In Game 6, Thompson shot 3-for-19 from the field and 2-for-12 from 3, which was not ideal for the Warriors in an elimination game on the road. He believes fatigue played a big role in his struggles:
“I learned that I was fried. I was tired,” Thompson said. “All my shots in that Game 6 were short. They were all on line. They were just short. I don’t know if that’s mental fatigue or physical fatigue. But it happens. Then on top of that, I learned as I get older, I’ll have to rely on my teammates and my smarts to be as efficient scoring the ball as I possibly can be.”
Thompson suffered two major injuries with a left knee ACL tear in 2019 and then a right Achilles tear the following year in 2020. It has been a challenging experience mentally and physically for him as he works his way back to the dominant two-way player that he once was.
The struggles are not to be denied, but Thompson certainly seems motivated by the Warriors’ early postseason exit. With both L.A. and Golden State retooling around the edges, they are set to be in the mix of a very competitive Western Conference playoff race again this year.
Thompson gives Lakers credit for beating Warriors in 2023 NBA postseason
Leading up to the Warriors and Lakers meeting up in the semifinals, the hype surrounding the series was unmatched and made for an entertaining matchup. After a back-and-forth series, Thompson gave the Lakers their credit for defeating them in the second round although is looking forward to another potential matchup this season.
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