After tanking midway through last season, the Golden State Warriors have put themselves in prime position to secure a playoff spot in the 2012-13 campaign.
The Warriors were able to snatch up Harrison Barnes from the 2012 NBA Draft to fill out their starting five. Also, with a healthy Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry on deck, the sky is the limit for this franchise going forward.
However, the starting rotation won't take all the glory.
Strong bench play hasn't exactly been synonymous with the Warriors, but this season, Golden State will boast one of the most impressive second units in the NBA.
All of these ingredients will help the Warriors rise in the Western Conference.
The biggest need going into the 2012 NBA Draft was a legitimate small forward, and the Warriors found exactly that in Harrison Barnes.
The seventh-overall pick was the final piece for an impressive starting lineup.
Last season, one of the major concerns was an effective small forward since Dorell Wright struggled to repeat his 2010-2011 performance. Richard Jefferson wasn't any better at the three-spot either, after mustering just nine points a game with the Warriors.
Barnes lacks the ball handling skills and the creativity of a great wing player, but at 20 years old, there's still plenty of time to improve.
Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry were dead weight last season, but both will be counted on heavily to propel Golden State into the playoffs.
For the first time in ages, the Warriors have a center that's actually worth a damn.
While he isn't a huge threat on offense, Bogut's defensive presence will be felt by the team. His ability to secure the paint and gobble up rebounds are two key things the Warriors desperately need. Last season, Golden State was 28th in points allowed and rebounds per game.
On the other hand, Bogut won't be a lone avenger trying to turn the franchise around.
The Warriors won't be able to lean on Monta Ellis any longer and hope for him to bail out the team. As a result, Curry will have to shoulder the majority of the play-making for the Warriors in the 2012-13 campaign.
The Warriors' bench showed significant improvement from the 2010-11 campaign. This past season, the second unit averaged over 30 points per game, which placed them 11th in league.
This season will be even better since Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have been added during the offseason. The Warriors also managed to re-sign Brandon Rush, who was key player off the bench last season.
For once, the Warriors second unit won't be a liability for this team since there's a solid group that's able to relieve the starters.
In the Western Conference, the top five teams from last season should be locked in for next year's playoff run.
The Warriors must make a push this season to land one of the three remaining spots. That won't be an easy task because teams that missed the playoffs last season have the same goal as the Warriors.
It won't be easy, but the improved Warriors are more than capable of leaping over these teams and reaching the postseason next year.