High expectations surrounded the Warriors heading into this season.
Klay Thompson and Steph Curry were back healthy. They had a promising young rookie in No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman. Their previous 15-50 season that was riddled with injuries before being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic was a wash, and they were expected to be right back in title contention.
That was six months ago, and a lot has happened since then. And currently standing in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 30-30 record, the Warriors no longer are fighting for a championship. They are fighting for a spot in the play-in games. That doesn't mean this season is a failure.
But, the question is, what should be considered a success?
The Warriors have set their sights beyond the play-in games, in which the seven through 10 seeds will fight for the final two playoff spots. And they should. Making it into a play-in game isn't enough. They have to win that.
At the very least, the Warriors must make it to the first round of the playoffs.
Miss the postseason once, blame it on a fluke season. But miss it twice, the Warriors would have to take a serious look in the mirror before moving forward.
As long as the Warriors make it into the first round of the playoffs, the results of that series are of little importance. They need to avoid getting swept, but pushing a series against a top-tier Western Conference team to six or seven games would show this team still has its bearings.
Not only is Curry still an MVP-caliber player, but those supporting him are pieces fit for a good team too. It would prove that the group of guys they have in Golden State at the moment can be successful.
The Warriors have had less than an ideal season. More injuries and players being in the NBA's health and safety protocols have demolished Golden State's depth. They have struggled to find major consistency all season. The same little issues have plagued them time and time again, particularly in close games.
Yet, Curry is having an MVP season. Young players such as Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson have become revelations. Andrew Wiggins has revitalized his career. They have found ways to put together wins against the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.
The Warriors are playing their best basketball of the season right now coming off a convincing 118-97 win over Denver. They're 8-2 in their last 10 games and are just three games behind the Dallas Mavericks for sixth place in the West. Looking at the remainder of their schedule, the Warriors should be able to fight their way up to the seventh or sixth seed.
If they get to sixth, they miss the play-in game altogether. Success.
But making it to that first round, no matter how they do it, will be the barometer. Anything less than that, this season should be considered a letdown.