Whatever "the next level" is, the Warriors are close.
From one through 15, their 2009 roster has a deep, colorful blend of developing talent and capable role players. Most teams will not lose sleep preparing for the Warriors, but most won't take them lightly, either.
We all love to think like GMs at this time of year, so I pose the question to the B/R masses:
How do you take this group and make them a sure-thing for the playoffs?
PG: C.J. Watson, Stephen Curry, Acie Law, (Speedy Claxton)
SG: Monta Ellis, Marco Belinelli, Anthony Morrow
SF: Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike, (Cartier Martin)
PF: Anthony Randolph, Corey Maggette, Brandon Wright
C: Andris Biedrins, Rony Turiaf, Jermario Davidson
(I know that the rest of the NBA identifies Maggette as a SF. I'm counting him as a PF because that's how Nelson uses him.)
GM Larry Riley announced publicly that his No. 1 off-season priority was acquiring a strong-bodied power forward/center. In the weeks immediately preceding and following the draft, it seemed that there were many available candidates for this role. Amar'e Stoudemire, Brandon Bass, Paul Milsap, and Carlos Boozer each could have been had for the right price.
As usual, the Warriors didn't aggressively pursue someone to fill a glaring need. Unlike the past 15 off-seasons, I agree with the approach.
It's easy to identify players who would provide an upgrade over guys like Law, Belinelli, Davidson, and Wright. However, reason dictates that getting one of those better players will require us to part with someone of equal ability and salary.
The team seems to have enough depth to do that.
Because there are no "franchise" type players in Oakland, no one should be considered untouchable in trade talks. However, there are too many unknowns about this group right now to break it up for anything other than a proven superstar.
Time is on our side.
At this point in the year, every team is scrambling to get better. That won't necessarily be the case in December and January. Some teams will be willing to shop players for salary cap relief, and the Warriors should have an idea as to which guys in their existing cast make the best core.
Now that Randolph has escaped the doghouse, I'd like to see how he handles stronger PFs in extended minutes before we commit resources to one. Who knows? If Leon Powe's knee has healed by January, he may be the perfect fit.