Have the Golden State Warriors Improved or Worsened in 2012 Offseason?
In the latest installment of David Stern's Groundhog Day, the major market franchises have once again dominated offseason headlines.
But the Golden State Warriors (far from a destination franchise despite co-owner Joe Lacob's wishes) may have undergone the most dramatic transition this offseason.
Through a combination of the draft (Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli), the trade market (Jarrett Jack) and the infirmary (Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut), first-year Warriors GM Bob Myers has filled his starting lineup, bolstered his bench and even thrown his name into Executive of the Year consideration.
And he may not even be done yet.
Myers would like to add a veteran power forward, if he can talk one of his reported remaining targets (notably Carl Landry and Kenyon Martin, according to CSN Bay Area's Matt Steinmetz) into the team's price range.
So, while the team will clearly have a different look next season, the real question for fans is: Does this new fortune equate to more wins?
Frankly, it's tough to see how this team won't be dramatically improved over last year's 17-21 team (their mark before Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh were shipped out).
At the same time, it is tough to gauge how the Warriors will fare compared with the rest of the always difficult Western Conference.
Which franchise has improved the most this offseason?
The Los Angeles Clippers have found depth on the free-agent market and should have a healthy Chauncey Billups back in the mix. The Los Angeles Lakers look every bit of a championship contender with Steve Nash at the helm, regardless of the success of their reported efforts to land Dwight Howard.
Even the Dallas Mavericks, expected to slip because of their failed pursuits of the aforementioned Howard and Deron Williams, have managed quite a plan "B" and should at least remain in the playoff picture.
Oh, and let's not forget the reigning Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder, who not only return all important pieces of last year's squad but also should return the underrated Eric Maynor, who missed nearly half of last season with a torn ACL.
But, there's reason to expect at least a playoff berth, even in the Western Conference.
A healthy Curry-Bogut combo may be the best point guard/center duo that the Warriors have ever fielded.
A Bogut-David Lee frontcourt could give them the best passing twin towers in the NBA, a potential nightmare for opponents considering the long-range exploits of these Warriors.
Jack (along with Richard Jefferson) will bring a veteran presence that the second unit has been lacking, along with a toughness that should be supported by rookies Ezeli and Green and could be further bolstered by the potential returns of either Brandon Rush or Dominic McGuire (or both), or even the addition of Martin.
And this fails to mention the benefits that the team has already seen from a return to the Vegas Summer League (which sophomores Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins missed during last year's lockout), as well as those they should expect from a full training camp for coach Mark Jackson.
Pessimistic Warrior fans may draw those same Groundhog Day comparisons to the Warriors entering the season with playoff hopes and plenty of optimism.
But this Warriors group should be unlike anything the Bay Area has seen in recent years.
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