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NBA preview 2016: What are the big questions for the Warriors’ season?

With the NBA preseason rapidly approaching, we take stock of our biggest questions for the Warriors’ 2016-17 season and some (obvious) goals.

Argentina v United States - USA Basketball Showcase Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Over the next couple of weeks, each blog in the SB Nation - NBA network will be releasing season previews using a mix of standard questions in addition to some custom questions of our own.

As usual, the Golden State of Mind staff collaborated to answer these questions and ended up with a few thousand words of thoughts -- a tad bit too much to publish for what SBN was looking for. But before paring down our thoughts into a single coherent message, I thought we could just share our unfiltered thoughts with the community and crowdsource ideas to integrate into our final version as well.

So read our thoughts below, drop your thoughts in the comments, rec the comments that you think are best and we’ll add some of the top comments from the community in our preview. And if you have something longer to add, feel free to create a FanPost that we can share as well.

Without further ado, the first two questions in our preview series: goals and biggest questions. (Hint: the first question is one of those standard SBN questions that every site will I truly do hope you were able to assume.)

What are the goals for the Warriors?

Derek Knight: Anything less than a title would be catastrophic for this franchise’s 5-year future.

Sami Higgins: A title. This team and its fanbase will be happy with nothing less after the disappointing end to last season.

Hugo Kitano: Winning some titles in arrogant fashion would be optimal.

Basketball Jonez: To play basketball so beautifully that anyone who sees it is immediately overwhelmed by a love for life and connection to the universe, bringing peace and an end to suffering.

Dean Campbell: Championship(s) or bust. Exchanging HB’s weak drives to the hoop and inconsistent outside shooting for KD is enough to make this team a contender for the title of GOAT. No need to push for 74 wins – rest the stars for the playoffs and get the rooks some run in the regular season. But get the #1 seed. Home court advantage still makes a difference, particularly when injuries strike.

Jason K. Lee: There is no question that the goal for the team is a title. Nothing more, nothing less. At this point, records don’t matter. I think they’ve learned the hard way that a season full of broken records and one big broken dream is not fun. But for me, I need them to at the very least get to the Finals. I say that because with the talent on this team, failing to reach the NBA finals means one of four things: someone got hurt, there was a mega-trade in the west, some other Western Conference team played the series of a lifetime, or something just doesn’t work with these players together. And if it’s that fourth one, I would be legitimately worried that we lose a star next offseason, dashing my hopes of a dynasty. But make the Finals and I think it’s enough to hold it together. The team that is, maybe not my sanity.

Nate P.: Can I add health here? Obviously, some injuries are out of the team’s control. But if they a) are aiming for a title and b) are toying with the idea of resting players, I’d like to see how aggressively they manage that resting rotation and balance the need to win homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs again with the need to be as fresh as possible deep into the playoffs.

What’s the biggest question for the Warriors this season?

Jonathan Asaad: When Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli departed from Golden State to make room for Kevin Durant, they left a gaping hole in the front court. Zaza Pachulia and David west, two already established players, won't be able to adequately replace their predecessors defensively. Thus, the biggest question for the Warriors this season is which -- if any -- of their young big men will emerge as the next defensive minded center?

With their length and explosive athleticism, Damian Jones and Kevon Looney have shown flashes of their potential to contest and erase shots in the paint. Something to keep an eye on this upcoming season is the development of these two promising players. Heck, maybe Javale McGee will finally harness his otherworldly athleticism and be productive in limited minutes.

DK: The overarching question is “Will this Durant merger work out?”

On paper, there’s no reason why his skillset shouldn’t coalesce with the preexisting machinery. In theory, his personality should mesh with the others’ sensibilities in the locker room.

Well, on paper it made sense for Durant to stay in Oklahoma City on a 1 + 1 deal. In theory, everything he had said to the media pointed towards an undying bond with Russell Westbrook that all but assured him staying in OKC. This is not an observation meant to inspire hysteria or paranoia, but to gently remind that human behavior is deliciously non-linear and unpredictable.

It’s very easy to talk oneself into believing Durant will fit into the offense, and the franchise as a whole, seamlessly. Durant talked himself into that prospect when he joined the team two months ago. But this a feeling-out process for both sides. There will be some office awkwardness as both KD and the Warriors organization fumble around, trying to avoid treading on each others’ toes. The Warriors haven’t played host to a store-bought superstar in their seventy-plus year history.

Dating back to Chamberlain, every superstar was drafted and developed in-house. There was an existing familiarity between player and organization that predated the fame, celebrity, and power of the star. Durant came to the Warriors, and he brought his close-knit posse and private security detail with him. Durant came to the Warriors, but the clout of Durant came with him, too. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a reminder that the Warriors organization doesn’t just have to assimilate and make room for Durant, but for all that Durant entails.

It should all work out on paper. The 2016 Warriors can tell you that “on paper” doesn’t always pan out.

Basketball Jonez: Is it April yet? The regular season is really just an 82 game preseason for the Warriors this year; a chance to develop chemistry, try out different lineups, and most importantly, avoid injury for when the real games start.

Dean C.: Can the Warriors excel on defense without a shot-blocking center? As Yao Ming and Shaq entered the Hall of Fame this summer, it’s interesting to note how few dominant centers remain in the game. Most teams are going with undersized centers that Draymond Green (and possibly KD?) can defend. However, the Dubs could potentially face DeMarcus Cousins (yes, it’s a stretch that Sacramento would make the playoffs), Marc Gasol, and Pau Gasol/LaMarcus Aldridge in consecutive series during the Western Conference playoffs next season. Anderson Varejao is not the answer. Hopefully Zaza will be solid enough.

Sami: Will they have the same “Strength In Numbers” off the bench? They lost a lot of talent to get Durant, so I wonder if they will they put together a roster to replace it or hope that they don’t need to rely on the bench, with the elite starters they have.

JL: Is Curry’s run of good health over? While his early career was plagued by possibly career-threatening ankle injuries, Curry eventually enjoyed a run of good health, which he capitalized on by winning an NBA Title and back-to-back MVP trophies. Just when we thought his injury woes were a thing of the past, he suffered an ankle sprain in the first game of last year’s playoffs followed by a knee sprain eight days later. One can only hope this was a fluke and that Curry can stay on the court this season and for many seasons to come.

Nate P.: How far will Klay Thompson move down the spectrum of stoic assassin to goonish villain?

OK, just kidding...sort of...

In seriousness, the big question in my mind is a) how much will the coaching staff commit to staggering their Big Four stars and b) which pairings will maximize their talents?

The way some people are talking about the team’s depth, it’s almost as if people are expecting full on line changes -- that would be silly to do considering the versatility of guys like Draymond Green and Kevin Durant (who wants to prove that he’s more than “just a scorer”). Despite some weird rotations in the playoffs/Finals, I’d think this coaching staff is intelligent enough to figure out how to stagger the big stars during the regular season in the interest of rest and recognition that having any two of those players on the floor at all times would overwhelm the majority of the league.

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