As the 2018/19 NBA basketball season approaches, not only are the Warriors seemingly as good as they've ever been, they might be even better.
With another year of growth under their belt and the acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins, there is a renewed sense of safety of optimism in Oakland these days.
Even with that being said, there are a number of reasons why the Warriors are more vulnerable now than they have been in the past.
DeMarcus Cousins and his sizeable ego could cause a bit of dysfunction in the locker room. Questions about KD and Klay's future with the franchise after this year may lead to some uneasiness, and the fatigue of winning another Chip last year may leave the team stagnant going into this season.
For these five teams, those weaknesses pose a particularly glamorous opportunity to make this season theirs. And while beating a team like the Warriors is never a guarantee, all five of these teams have the tools they need to make it a reality.
5. Utah Jazz
When you step back and look at them, the Utah Jazz aren't exactly the most talented team. They don't have a top-ten player, they don't have flash or swagger.
What they do have is a perfect balance of offense and defense, and a collection of players willing to drop their egos in favor of team basketball. Plus, they've got Donovan Mitchell who, after a stellar rookie year, is ready to add to an already glowing reputation.
Granted, just about everything would have to go right if this team has any chance at posing a threat to the defending Champs. But when talking about teams who have a legitimate shot, the Jazz should be right in the mix.
4. Toronto Raptors
With the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Raptors are looking to improve on the 59-win season they had last year.
It will take time to adjust to the new roster, but once they do, they'll be a scary force in the East.
Comparatively, to the Warriors, their talent level is nowhere close. Kawhi, though, gives the Raps something they've needed for years: a true superstar. Now, they've got a closer and a guy who can slow down the likes of KD or Steph.
Sad thing is, they might only have this opportunity for one season. So, they best make the most of this chance while they have it.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The LeBron James factor is one that cannot be understated.
Yes, besides LeBron, additional superstar talent is sorely lacking.
But if you look deeper, you might find a reason (or two) on why the Lakers pose a serious threat to the Western Conference elite (including the Warriors.)
A new season means another offseason of growth and development for young guys like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma. They're only going to get better from here.
The new signings in Lance, JaVale, and Rondo should give the team a new-found sense of veteran leadership and will add toughness on the floor for a team that desperately needed some.
2. Houston Rockets
The Rockets, arguably, took a pretty sizeable step back this post-season by losing both Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A Moute. Replacing those guys with an aged Carmelo Anthony likely won't help patch those wounds, either.
Still, they were a game away from beating the Warriors just a few months ago, and deserve the respect to be considered in that same their again.
It will take an all-hands-on-deck effort by Houston, but if everything works out, they might find themselves staring face-to-face at the LarryO'Brien come this July.
1. Boston Celtics
In terms of teams with the best chance at beating the Dubs, no team poses a greater threat than the Celtics.
Gordon Hayward is back, and ready to prove he can play at the same level. Kyrie Irving is 100% again, ready to prove he can lead a team on his own. The likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are ready to build upon the great rookie seasons they displayed last year.
They can match the Warriors' star power, and probably have the better coach.
The defending Champs shouldn't be worried about most teams out there, but this squad has got to be one they