This offseason saw the Golden State Warriors make a real splash.
Toney Douglas, Jermaine O’neal, Marreese Speights, and, most importantly, Andre Iguodala were added to a young Warriors team that provided excitement in last years playoffs. 22 year-old Nemanja Nedovic was selected by the Warriors with the 30th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.
Of course, room has to made for the new acquisitions. The Warriors have to say goodbye to Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, who were key players off the bench during the regular season and in their playoff run.
Even through the changes to the Warriors roster, the core remains the same. The five starters from last season — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andrew Bogut, and Harrison Barnes — are all back to make an even deeper run in the 2014 NBA playoffs. With all the additions made to a playoff worthy core, expectations are soaring for the Warriors this season.
But what would define a successful season for this team? What result at the end of the season would make the Warriors fans and organization happy and satisfied?
Four scenarios present themselves:
MISSING THE PLAYOFFS: I probably don’t need to say that missing the playoffs would be a failure of grand proportions for a team thought to be among the top teams in the Western Conference. It doesn’t seem as if this will be the Warriors fate. I will say, however, that this is more likely to happen than people think. The Warriors have loads of potential, but they also have to cope with the losses of Jarret Jack and Carl Landry. These two players were pivotal off the bench. Jack earned the playing time of starter and really learned how to run the Warriors offense, allowing Curry to play off the ball.
There is no guarantee that the additions to the team will have a positive effect. We saw what happened to the Lakers who were expected to contend for the championship last year. Will Toney Douglas, Andre Iguodala and the rest of the acquisitions be able to mesh with the team like Jack and Landry? It is a question that may determine the outcome of the season.
PLAYOFFS- ROUND 1 OR 2: Getting to the playoffs is always a good thing. For the Warriors to be satisfied with the season though, they will have to win a few games. The Warriors will want to do at least as well as last year to consider their season successful, especially with the offseason moves made to upgrade the team. A round one or two loss would leave the team very disappointed. To not be able to get past the position they were in last year would mean that all the offseason upgrades would be for naught.
The Warriors will need to get to the second round at the very least, but only getting through to the Conference Championship would render the season successful.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: This is the next step for the Warriors. If they reach this stage, their season should be considered a success. The West is tough. It’s no guarantee for any team to make the playoffs, much less to go to the Western Conference Championship. This is why it will be hard for the Warriors to live up to expectations.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs are both expected to go to the Conference Championship. The Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets both bulked up their teams this offseason as well and the Los Angeles Lakers will also be dangerous with Kobe Bryant healthy later in the year.
The Warriors could absolutely go to the Conference Championship. However, only two teams can play in that game and all five of those teams as well as the Warriors will believe they have a shot at going. That means some teams will miss out so keep the expectations in perspective. It is possibility that the Warriors don’t make it to that stage of the playoffs, not because of their own deficiencies, but because of the strength in the West.
NBA CHAMPIONSHIP: Many people believe it will end for the Warriors before the biggest stage of them all, but because of the nature of the fairly open Western Conference, it is possible that the Warriors win out. This would be the only thing that would exceed expectations so it would, by all means, mean a successful season. They will not be expected to beat the Miami Heat, who will most likely represent the East (although the Indiana Pacers could usurp them). Either way, an NBA Championship berth would be very promising for the young nucleus of the team.
With all the offseason oves made by the Warriors, they have to expect to improve upon last year. Thus, a successful season is defined as a trip to the Conference Championship. It will be difficult, and there is a high likelihood that it will not happen, but it has to be the expectation.
Even if this year isn’t defined as a successful season, there is promise in Oakland, California for successful seasons in years to come.