The moment Klay Thompson tore his right Achilles in a gym in Southern California on Nov. 18, the outlook for the Warriors' 2020-21 NBA season changed.
Golden State went from NBA title contenders reclaiming their place at the top of the mountain to a team searching for an identity with the season just weeks away.
In the eyes of some pundits and analysts, the Warriors might miss the playoffs for a second straight season. The Athletic's John Hollinger is picking the Warriors to finish 11th in the Western Conference, meaning they wouldn't even qualify for the play-in portion of the playoffs. ESPN's Kevin Pelton has Golden State finishing with the second-fewest wins in the West.
Damion Lee, entering his third season with the Warriors, says the players hear the chatter, but they aren't letting it bother them.
"No. I don't feel like that stuff we really pay attention to," Lee told NBC Sports Bay Area's Grant Liffmann on the latest episode of the "Dubs Talk" podcast. "We definitely see it, and everyone has their own bit of motivation from a personal standpoint. But I feel like, as a collective, we see the chatter and we see the talk and the doubt, and it's just a matter of us just coming out, and just playing as underdogs and going out and fighting every night.
"At the end of the day, there's always going to be talking heads. People are going to talk if you're doing well or if you're doing bad. For us, it's just maintaining what our core principles are, knowing what those are internally. And, you know, our saying is 'Just us' for a reason."
Despite the injury to Thompson, fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry isn't giving up on the 2020-21 season.
"Obviously Klay going down was extremely tough," Curry told reporters Monday in a video conference call. "I think we made some really, really solid moves in free agency, obviously drafting [No. 2 overall pick James] Wiseman. I like where we're at."
Lee, Curry and the Warriors will get an early test to see where they stand when they open the season on the road against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 22, and then travel to Milwaukee to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Christmas Day.
If the Warriors stumble out of the gate, the pundits surely will be there to say "I told you so." But Curry loves to prove doubters wrong. Stay tuned.