Kurtenbach: Klay Thompson’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the lulling Warriors

Now that Steph Curry has broken the NBA’s 3-point record, we can turn our attention to the broken Warriors’ offense.

Curry’s pursuit of the all-time mark slowed the Dubs down for a bit — a noble distraction amid a long season — but that can’t fully explain why the Warriors’ offense has been a bottom-half unit over the last three weeks.

The issue has been more acute in the last five games with Curry’s record front of mind — the Warriors have an offensive rating of 109, good for 18th in the NBA over that span — but Golden State was operating at that level in the five games preceding that. In all, this team has the 19th-rated offense over the last 10 games.

Now, Golden State is 7-3 over that 10-game stretch, because its defense, led by Draymond Green, has been the league’s best.

And as much as I would love to say that this formula can work for the Dubs for the remainder of the season — as much as I’d like it to be true that defense can be the driving force of winning in this league — the truth is that the Dubs need to start scoring again in the coming weeks.

This “lull” as Warriors coach Steve Kerr put it, cannot become a bonafide offensive depression. Now, it’s December and there’s no reason to overreact, but it’s hardly out of bounds to acknowledge that the Warriors, at least offensively, are not playing championship-caliber basketball as of late.

And the issue is that there’s no one appreciable reason why the Warriors’ offense is struggling, They’re playing a bit slower, but only losing one offensive possession per game. Shooting from both beyond the arc and the field is down, but not by anything crazy. The team is missing a couple of extra free throws per contest, too. Turnovers are, actually, down.

But it all adds up, and it’s why the Dubs have dropped from the league’s second-best offensive rating before Thanksgiving to the same territory as the Pelicans and Knicks (as evidenced Tuesday) since the holiday.

This team needs a boost, a spark, and someone who can space out the floor a bit more, particularly in late-game situations, where the Warriors have an anemic, sub-100 offensive rating this season.

This team needs someone like Klay Thompson.

And wouldn’t fate have it that Thompson is in the final stages of his recovery from back-to-back leg injuries — first a torn ACL, then a torn Achilles tendon — that have kept him off the floor for the last two seasons and the first quarter of this campaign?

Thompson’s timing on and off the court has always been next-level and he’s proving it again here.

The Warriors are mum about Thompson’s return, but I’m yet to hear anything that indicates that Thompson won’t be on the Chase Center floor before Christmas. The word from his trips to the Warriors’ minor-league affiliate in Santa Cruz is that he looks as if “he was never injured.”

People around the Dubs are so excited they have to talk themselves out of hyperbole. Still, it comes through.

Now, we’ll see when Thompson does make his NBA return. It could be as soon as Monday, though the Warriors are going to be cautious, so it might take longer to see him. Regardless, it remains to be seen if that high level of play can hold when Thompson is playing serious minutes against real NBA competition and not scrimmaging in the G League.

And Thompson will no doubt need a months-long ramp-up period to return to his prior workload.

But adding arguably the greatest catch-and-shoot man of all time to the Warriors’ offense will be a boon for the Dubs, and Thompson’s smarts and length on defense give him a high floor on that side of the court for his return.

Thompson isn’t a panacea for all that ails the Warriors’ offense, but he’s close.

And while it will certainly take a long time until we see the old Thompson on the court — if that Thompson is still around at all — but in whatever form he’s in, the Warriors’ other Splash Brother, arguably the second-greatest shooter who has ever lived, would be an oh-so-welcome sight to a team that’s looking for just a bit more on the offensive end.

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