When you look at the current NBA standings, it is somewhat surprising to see the Golden State Warriors with a mediocre 5-3 record.
Especially considering how dominant they were last year, it doesn't seem right that the Warriors have already lost games to the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.
However, that's how things stand for last year's NBA champions at the moment, and the team has a long way to go to matching its dominant play from a year ago.
On Monday night, star forward Draymond Green said this year's Warriors have a lot of improving to do if they want to win a third title in four years (via ESPN.com):
"I don't think we're better at all right now," he said. "We've got a long way to go. You're talking about a championship team that won the Finals pretty handily - you can't say this team is nowhere near as good as that team, but I think we have the potential to be better.
"I think we've got a lot more depth and guys have gotten better individually. We're more familiar with each other, but we're nowhere near where we want to be or where we can be. It's a long road, and we'll get there."
With Green, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson all returning to lead the team, it is a good bet that the Warriors will eventually return to their dominant ways.
Following a 141-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, Curry told ESPN.com that he feels the team's defense took a big step forward:
"Our defensive effort really got us to where we wanted to be," Curry said. "The coach gave us a challenge before the game to just try and win the possession and field-goal game. Throughout the course of the game, that was the key. We played Warriors basketball and now we have to sustain it."
Curry scored a game-high 31 points in Monday night's win, with Green adding 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the big road victory.
Even Clippers coach Doc Rivers was impressed with the Warriors' defense in Monday's game, saying that part of Golden State's game deserves at least as much attention as the offense:
"I don't think they get enough credit defensively. It's amazing," Rivers said. "Whenever we talk about Golden State, we only talk about their offense. And I think their defense is what sets them apart."
The Warriors face a tough test on Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. That game will go a long way toward showing whether this year's Golden State team is looking like last year's a bit more or not.