For the first time in five seasons, the Warriors find themselves in new territory entering the 2019-20 season. With Kevin Durant gone to the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson rehabbing his surgically repaired left ACL and eight new players on the roster, the Warriors are not the preseason NBA title favorites.
As the Warriors reconcile a new reality, the rest of the Western Conference has retooled with superstar talent. Over the next seven days, NBC Sports Bay Area will examine teams that are expected to challenge Golden State's Western Conference throne.
Friday's edition: The LA Clippers.
Six days into free agency, the Clippers signed All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard. Minutes later, they sent the Oklahoma Thunder four unprotected first-round picks along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for forward Paul George, marking the most historic summer in franchise history.
To complement George and Leonard's talents, the Clippers filled out the roster by re-signing defensive ace Patrick Beverley and big man Ivica Zubac. LA rounded out the roster with Wilson Chandler, Patrick Patterson and veteran Garrett Temple.
With Beverley, Leonard and George, the Clippers have arguably the best defensive core in the league. Last season, LA ranked 19th in the league in defensive rating, giving up more than 114 points per game, making the addition of George and Leonard all the more imperative.
Supplementing LA's star power is the league's best bench unit. Last season, the Clippers' bench averaged 53.4 points per game. Two-time reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams -- who averaged 20.0 points in 26 minutes per game -- helped lead LA's starless team to 48 wins and a six-game first-round series against the Warriors.
Simply put, the Clippers might be the most complete team in the league.
Despite their star power, the Clippers' top two players are entering the 2019-20 season with a sketchy recent injury history. Last season, Leonard missed 22 games due to load management and looked to be hobbled throughout the postseason. Meanwhile, George -- who had offseason shoulder surgery -- is expected to be out for the start of the season.
The Clippers are clear front-runners to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. However, injuries could cripple that goal.
How the Warriors stack up
The Clippers -- like the Lakers -- might be the biggest hurdle Golden State faces in its quest for a sixth straight Finals appearance.
Since losing to LA in the 2014 playoffs, the Warriors have had success against their Southern California rival, eliminating them in last year's postseason.
However, even with the departures of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers were building a team to contend with the Warriors. Now, with Leonard and George, they have a team that can beat the reigning Western Conference champs.