OAKLAND — Every basketball fan in the country and around the globe saw the potential of the Warriors last season when Stephen Curry stayed healthy and got hot in the playoffs.
One swish after another, Curry wowed the gold-shirt-wearing crowds that packed Oracle Arena and turned games into must-see TV. The performances transformed the franchise from lovable losers with a faithful following to an up-and-coming team that could contend for a Western Conference title — and maybe more.
“I think we understand the position we're in,” Curry said. “We played well for a year. That's awesome. But we have to capitalize on that momentum.”
Few expected the Warriors, who had made the playoffs just once since 1994, to make the postseason. Even fewer predicted they'd beat Denver — which won a franchise-record 57 games — in the first round. And almost nobody thought they'd seriously challenge the San Antonio Spurs before losing in six games in the second round.
Curry rose to star status in the playoffs, and he'll need to be at his best again for the Warriors to be a contender in the deep Western Conference. Curry averaged a career-high 22.9 points and 6.9 assists per game.
Winning would surprise nobody now.
Golden State returns all five starters — Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut — from a team that finished 47-35 to earn the Western Conference's sixth playoff seed. The Warriors also added All-Star
swingman Andre Iguodala, who left Denver to sign a four-year, $48 million deal.
“There's no secret, we're a good basketball team. I'm not going to sit here and lie. We're a good basketball team,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who's entering his third season. “We've come a long way. But now is the next step. It's about building chemistry and looking forward to what lies ahead.”