The Warriors believe predictions of their demise are greatly exaggerated.
Yes, Golden State was an NBA-worst 15-50 last season with Steph Curry out for all but five games and Klay Thompson missing every one. Yes, they'll all admit losing Thompson to a torn right Achilles' tendon is a massive blow.
But the Warriors' confidence is high ahead of the season, and their answer to the questions of the team's status as a championship contender is a question of their own.
"We feel good, and right now we've got to think, 'Why not us?' " Andrew Wiggins told reporters in a video conference call Wednesday. "We've put in the work for it. We're still gonna keep working hard for it. We've got a great team, a great coaching staff, great fans. Steph Curry's healthy. We all feel good in the team. We have a lot of young guys, and [No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman]. I feel like things are looking good for us."
Getting a two-time MVP back in the lineup will help the Warriors win a lot more games than they did last season. So did drafting a talented center in Wiseman, trading for Kelly Oubre Jr. and signing experienced veterans in reserve guards Kent Bazemore and Brad Wanamaker. Golden State is deeper and wiser than it was just over nine months ago when the NBA suspended the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
These Warriors still need to establish an identity on offense, defense and even in the rotation. Even if and when that happens, Golden State would probably remain a cut (or two) below the Western Conference's true contenders, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, in a given year.
This will be no given year, with the 72-game season beginning this month set to resemble a marathon and a sprint. The Warriors will be far more rested than their rivals atop the conference, which could help them outlast other teams in a mad dash to the playoffs.
With all that said, it might not be long before Wiggins has an answer to his question. The regular season begins in two weeks against Kevin Durant's Brooklyn Nets, and the Warriors' early schedule is packed with title contenders.
That'll allow Golden State to measure its new-look roster's progress against many of the best teams the league has to offer, and will reinforce or refute Wiggins and the Warriors' preseason confidence.