The Warriors finished last season as the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, falling short of the playoffs after losing two straight games in the play-in tournament.
That marked two seasons in a row without a trip to the playoffs for Golden State, following five straight trips to the NBA Finals. The front office wasn’t having it this offseason. Joe Lacob and Bob Myers significantly improved the roster this season, but to what degree?
ESPN’s panel of NBA experts predict the Warriors to finish the regular with a 48-34 record, good for sixth in the Western Conference. The Warriors are projected to finished behind the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. It’s easy to understand why, too.
Every team ahead of the Warriors reached the playoffs last season, with the Suns reaching the Finals. They all have a superstar, if you consider Donovan Mitchell a superstar.
Of course, the Warriors have Steph Curry — who led the league in scoring last season — Draymond Green on a mission and the return of Klay Thompson. They signed Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica in free agency and added lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Add in Andrew Wiggins and Year 2 James Wiseman, and this should be a much better team than last season.
But we don’t know that yet.
It’s unclear when Thompson will return and to what level after missing two seasons to serious leg injuries. The new aditions might not gel and it’s impossible to lean on two teenage rookies.
Our own panel of Warriors experts — Monte Poole, Kendra Andrews and Grant Liffmann — recently ranked where the Warriors sit in the West as well. Poole had them as fourth-best, while Andrew was more optimistic at three and Liffmann believes only the Lakers are better than Golden State.
Anywhere between four and six feels appropriate right now. They could be better, they could be worse. Once again, though, the Warriors have to prove it on the court — the only place it matters.