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.
Monday's edition: The Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets started the offseason picking up forward Paul Millsap's $30 million contract, keeping the team's leading rebounder in town another year.
Three days later, they signed guard Jamaal Murray to a five-year, $170 million extension. Murray -- who the Nuggets drafted in 2016 -- averaged 18.2 points, including 36 percent from 3-point range last season.
Denver also traded a 2020 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jerami Grant. In a supporting role, Grant shot 39 percent from 3-point range last season and should be an integral piece in Denver's run-and-gun style.
The team also added Oregon big man Bol Bol in the second round of the draft. Bol averaged 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game on 56.0 percent shooting before his season ended with a foot injury, which scared most teams off in June.
The Nuggets were one of the league's pleasant surprises last season, winning 54 games and clinching the second seed in the Western Conference. Denver's resurgence was due to coach Mike Malone's defense, which finished sixth in points allowed.
While the team wasn't among the league leaders in scoring, Denver finished second in the NBA in assists. With the addition of Michael Porter Jr -- who missed last season recovering from back surgery -- the Nuggets' offense will look to take the next step in its progression.
The Nuggets struggled to score last season, finishing 20th in the league in points per game. To take the next step in their trajectory, Murray will have to be more efficient from the field. Last year, he shot just 43 percent from the field, leading to some skepticism following his big deal.
Though the Nuggets surprised many last season, NBA observers didn't see the team as a legit contender. This year, the Nuggets will have heightened expectations in a Western Conference that features the retooled L.A. Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, along with the Utah Jazz.
How the Warriors stack up
Despite Denver's ascension last season, the Warriors beat the Nuggets three out of four times, including a late-season home win to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.
With Murray, Milsap, center Nikola Jokić and guard Gary Harris, Denver has the core to beat the Warriors. However, Golden State has the experience to overcome Denver's talent, and if the Warriors get Klay Thompson back in time, the team could stunt the Nuggets growth in a postseason matchup.