The Golden State Warriors are looking to improve on their dreadful 2009-10 NBA season, but considering most of the teams in the Western Conference improved their rosters, it will not be a simple task.
The Warriors also improved during the offseason by acquiring David Lee to shore up the interior, and Dorrell Wright who gives the Warriors a long, athletic defensive presence on the perimeter.
Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis should benefit from a full season together in the backcourt, and Reggie Williams may be an upgrade over the departed Anthony Morrow.
The Warriors should also finally have a chance to get healthy, and maybe Brandan Wright can finally begin to fulfill some of the promise he has displayed on occasion.
But, unless the Warriors make a drastic improvement on the defensive end of the court, they might want to hold off on any reservations for next season's playoffs.
Of the eight Western Conference teams that qualified for the postseason, only Phoenix and Utah saw their potential for reaching the playoffs decrease for next season.
Phoenix lost Amare Stoudemire to the New York Knicks in free agency, and although they found replacements in Hakim Warrick and Hedo Turkoglu, it's hard to picture them improving on last season.
Utah lost Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls, and then watched guard Wesley Matthews sign with Portland, and the acquisition of Al Jefferson does not compensate for those losses.
Oklahoma City, Portland, and San Antonio were all in the bottom-half of the playoff bracket, and all three teams should move up if Portland's Brandon Roy and Greg Oden can successfully return from injury.
Additionally, the Los Angeles Clippers should be better next season, and the Warriors could find themselves locked in a divisional battle for the final playoff berth.
If the Warriors were to qualify for the postseason, it would likely be in the sixth-to-eighth position.
So how do they match up to their primary competition?
Curry will be a great point guard in the future, but Utah's Deron Williams already is, and the Jazz still have players like Jefferson and Mehmet Okur to surround him with.
Jerry Sloan's system will be tough to beat regardless of who is playing in it, and the fact that the Jazz are capable of playing decent stretches of defense gives them an edge over the Warriors.
The Clippers will be very strong in the paint, assuming Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman are both healthy, and they have a formidable backcourt tandem in Baron Davis and Eric Gordon.
The Memphis Grizzlies are another team that barely missed the postseason. They also have a nice blend of size and talent and are a good bet to challenge for the playoffs this year.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph can be dominant in the paint, and Rudy Gay is finally learning to live-up to the reputation he developed at Conneticut as a great all-around player.
The Phoenix Suns probably provide the best matchup for the Warriors because the loss of Stoudemire makes the teams about even in the post, and their similar styles would keep most games close.
Neither team excels on the defensive end, so if it comes down to who can score the most points, then the Warriors have a great chance to finish above the Suns in the Pacific division.
But, even that may not make much of a difference, because both the Suns and the Warriors could find themselves shut out by more defensive-minded teams such as Utah and Memphis.
The Warriors have the talent to compete with those teams, but the only way they can pass them in the conference standings is with a commitment to solid defense.
I'm not so sure Golden State can accomplish that this season with Don Nelson at the helm, but the Warriors can still improve on last season and provide a little inspiration for the future.