Mark Jacksons first pre-camp presser happened Wednesday and it was full of the usual high-minded projections about the new, improved and potentially glorious Warriors.
It was quite the show.
But the nagging question, the one that wont be answered, is whether this Warrior team can go from 23-43 (which pro-rates out to 28-54) to 46-36, which is the average number of wins for the eighth-place team in the Western Conference over the last decade.
Forty-six. The one time the Warriors reached the playoffs, they won 42, including the game Dallas threw to them to insure they got into the playoffs so they could smack the Mavericks in the first round. It is one of the great ignored parts of the We Believe season -- that there would have been nothing to believe in if not for Dallas misplaced hubris.
But we digress.
This Warrior team is much changed -- Andrew Bogut, a populous draft, Stephen Curry claiming his foot faces the correct way again, a full year of the Jackson regime under their belts.
RELATED: Mark Jackson talks all things Warriors
But does that justify playoff plans? Given this teams history of disappointing, or failing outright, one would be a fool to think so.
And while we dont wish to spoil anyones delusions before that have fully bloomed, let us offer an alternative to bubbly hope:
The willingness to be happily surprised.
The Warriors are probably not 18 games better than they were a year ago, because they havent been 18 games better than they were in the previous year in almost a quarter-century. Eighteen games is a lot.
So lets take a more realistic stance and say they should give a go at .500. Thats 13 games, which is still a nice jump, but it is not extraordinary. It has the added benefit of being something the Warriors havent done very often in the last 30-plus years, so it would be a dramatic offer of improvement.
And improvement is what ought to be sold here. The problem, of course, being that improvement isnt much of a hook for a team that rarely engages in it.
You see, Joe Lacob doesnt get to be Joe Lacob with a .500 Or Bust slogan. .500 doesnt get you into the Top 8. As we showed you, .549 doesnt get you into the top eight.
So never mind what the Warriors might be saying about the postseason. Your sights should be adjusted to a more sensible level, not because you should settle for .500, but because if the Warriors dont make the full 18-game jump, youre going to start thinking that changes need to be made.
And the biggest problem the Warriors have exhibited throughout most of the last 20 years is a hyperkinetic throw out the baby, the bath, and the bathroom approach to franchise building.
They just did it again this past year. New general manager, new coach, another new general manager, blockbuster trade, and bitching about injuries.
Well, that last one is a constant. Hey, you cant change everything every year.
But the Warriors come close. Twelve coaches, eight general managers and three ownership groups in 17 years, that close. Everybody is a hurry to put their stamp on the team, and all they end up doing is stamp on the team.
So the one thing that hasnt been tried here is common sense. Not by the team; it cant be seen to look like the playoffs arent the goal. But for the fan base that isnt blinkered to reality, a gentler place for its expectations should be found.
And, if the Warriors end up with the 13-game improvement rather than the 18-game improvement, that level of common sense should trickle up as well. This season should be a referendum on the coaching staff only if it stays at 28 wins, or worse, the 23 wins it actually achieved in last years truncated season. If the Warriors remain the flat, featureless meh-fest they have been, then another round of change can't be defended. Otherwise, no.
But theres one more reason why expectations in September should be leveled. The We Believe team won the areas hearts because it was such a surprise; even coach Don Nelson declared them dead in February that year. They literally leapt from the crypt to make their mark in a way that almost no 42-win team has before, or since. And you all had a ball watching them do it.
So let them give it a try again. Expect less, and be ready to enjoy more if it happens. No playoff success is better than the kind you never saw coming, a truth you just relearned last year with the 49ers. Expectations bring angst, and bitterness, and overthinking -- a truth you are relearning this year with the Giants.
So Mark Jackson can say what he likes about this Warrior team, but you will be better off cooling your own internal jets on them. The playoffs are too big an ask, and if it turns out that it wasnt, I told you so, wont win you as many friends and good times as Man, I never thought that could happen.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com