May 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the third quarter of game three of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 102-92. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Is 2013-14 Being Hyped As Western Conference Finals or Bust?

May 2, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) dunks against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter of game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With last season’s playoff appearance, the signing of Andre Iguodala, the hype for the Golden State Warriors is at an all-time high.  Even though the team lost Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry in free agency, the team is projected to be even better next season.

Making it to the Western Conference Finals is a huge accomplishment, so falling short of that mark isn’t usually a reason to panic.  Even so, the Warriors were two wins away from making it to the Western Conference Finals last season.  With a better team, should Warriors fans be expecting an appearance?  Will this be the team’s best chance at winning a championship?

These questions don’t have simple “yes” or “no” answers.  There are many factors to consider – some the Warriors can control and some they cannot.

The Western Conference is considered to be the tougher conference – and for good reason. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies all have championship aspirations. Even getting out of the first round is going to be tough.

The Warriors have found plenty of young talent in recent drafts, which should help the team stay in the fight to represent the Western Conference in the finals. However, Andrew Bogut is going into the final year of his contract. After this season, the Warriors will have to decide whether he is worth retaining.  They will also have to compete with any other team that wants to sign him.

As valuable as players like Stephen Curry and Iguodala are, the Warriors won’t get anywhere without a capable center. Bogut was injured throughout last season, but he showed his value during the playoffs.  He inhaled rebounds, altered/blocked shots and looked competent on offense. A player like that isn’t easy to replace.

At the start of free agency, there were rumors that the Warriors were trying to trade David Lee. After the acquisition of Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson became less vital to the success of the team. There was some speculationthat either Barnes or Thompson would be traded if Dwight Howard chose to come to Golden State.

This offseason has shown that the Warriors are not afraid to make a big move.  Lee, Barnes and Thompson are all great players, but they can still be traded. Joe Lacob, the team’s owner, wants to win now.  If this season isn’t a success, some changes could be made.

Last year’s Denver Nuggets are a great example of a team blowing up their roster  after underachieving.  Head coach George Karl was fired and other executives left the team; Iguodala opted out of his contract. The team suddenly has an entirely different look.

The Warriors should try to avoid doing what Denver did.  With how tough the West is, anything could happen next season.  The team is bursting with young talent, so nothing should ever hinge on one single season. Expectations are high after the success of last season’s team, but the Warriors still have a long way to go.

Fans of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics might expect to contend every year, but Warriors fans shouldn’t take on that mentality; the team hasn’t been good long enough for that.

As long as the team’s core can stay the same, the Warriors should be able to find ways to compete for Western Conference Title every year.  After years of mediocrity, Warriors fans should be happy enough with that.

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Tags: Andre Iguodala Andrew Bogut Carl Landry David Lee Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Harrison Barnes Jarrett Jack Klay Thompson Stephen Curry

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