With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we're dedicating one day to each team in the league.
Today, we're shifting our Pacific Division focus to the Golden State Warriors.
2017-18 season record
58-24 (No. 2 seed in the Western Conference)
Projected 2018-19 season record
62.5 wins (No. 1 seed in the Western Conference)
DeMarcus Cousins (free agency)
Jonas Jerebko (free agency)
JaVale McGee (free agency)
Zaza Pachulia (free agency)
David West (retired)
Nick Young (free agency)
3 key storylines
Can the Warriors threepeat?
Only three franchises in NBA history have ever threepeated: Lakers (twice), Bulls (twice) and Celtics (eight straight titles).
The Warriors could become the fourth this season - and probably would've already been the fourth had it not been for a Draymond Green suspension in the 2016 NBA Finals.
As NBA.com's Sekou Smith wrote following their dominant performance in the 2018 NBA Finals, the scary thing about Golden State's dynasty is it's just beginning. The oldest players from their All-Star core are Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and they are only 30-years-old.
If the Warriors pull off the threepeat this season, they'll be a legitimate threat to join the Celtics as the only other franchise in NBA history to fourpeat next season.
The impact of DeMarcus Cousins
The Houston Rockets came close to beating the Warriors last season with a switch-heavy defensive scheme that slowed down the best offense in the NBA.
So how did the Warriors respond? By signing the best post-up player available in free agency who should be able to pick that system apart.
The kicker, of course, is that Cousins is coming off of an injury that has derailed many careers in the past. The Warriors should be in good shape to win their third consecutive title if he doesn't return to full strength, but even 80 percent of what Cousins was last season would make them practically unstoppable on offense.
Stephen Curry's health
It's no secret that Curry is Golden State's most important player. While they weren't as dominant defensively with him on the court last season, their offense improved by an incredible 14.3 points per 100 possessions in the regular season.
The former helped Curry post the highest offensive rating in the league by a long shot.
Warriors have an offensive rating of 120.4 with Curry on the court (would comfortably be an NBA record) and 106.2 without him (basically the Charlotte Hornets). Steph is easily their best and most important player.- Robin Lundberg (@robinlundberg) April 6, 2018
That's why the Warriors need Curry to be healthy, particularly in the postseason. Curry was at full strength in 2017, but he missed a combined 12 playoff games in 2016 and 2018. As long as he's in the lineup, the Warriors will continue to be the overwhelming favorites.
5 games to watch
Oct. 16 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The second game of the 2018-19 NBA season should be a fun one. The Thunder played the Warriors well last season, winning two games by a combined 37 points. A win in Golden State on opening night would set them up well for a strong season.
Nov. 15 vs. Houston Rockets
The first of four meetings between the Warriors and Rockets in the regular season. After losing to the Golden State in seven hard-fought games in last season's Western Conference Finals, Houston will certainly have this game circled on their calendar.
Dec. 25 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James vs. Warriors will never get old. The difference now is that the 14-time All-Star is representing the Los Angeles Lakers, not the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It'll be fascinating to see if a team made up of LeBron, Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart and Michael Beasley can go toe-to-toe with these Warriors.
Jan. 26 vs. Boston Celtics
The Celtics and Warriors are projected to finish at the top of their respective conferences, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise if this ends up being a preview of the 2019 NBA Finals. The two teams split the season series last year, with the Warriors winning by four points in Golden State and the Celtics winning by four points in Boston.
Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant vs. Jayson Tatum are the matchups to watch in this one.
April 9 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
This will be Golden State's only trip to New Orleans in the regular season. There's no guarantee that Cousins will play in this game - the Warriors might rest him for the playoffs even if he's at full strength - but this could be his return to the Smoothie King Center as a visitor following a frustrating free agency.
If he does play, expect Cousins to have a monster game.