1. We didn't get worse. We maintained our core without giving away anything of value. The fact that nobody is chasing after J.J. Hickson proves that. We will have a chance to see our core play together for a second consecutive year and that alone will make us better.
2. We didn't do anything stupid. NBA history is strewn with crazy contracts that make little sense a couple of years after they have been signed. We didn't overpay for anyone with a huge contract that we will be sorry for three years from now. I'm looking at you, Gerald Wallace (Brooklyn). I don't know who this years crazy signings will be, but I expect Andre Iguadala and Josh Smith may be candidates. Stupid is hampering your cap space for three or four years with ridiculous contracts. Thanks Neil, for not doing anything stupid.
3. We improved our starting lineup. On the surface, Robin Lopez may not seem like a significant upgrade over J.J., however, I think there will be synergies from having a defensive backstop that we can only imagine at this point. I believe that everyone will be better defensively as a result.
4. We improved our bench (big time). I doubt that last years sixth man (whoever that was) would even be a ninth man this year. The repercussions of have real NBA players coming off our bench will also affect our starters who will have to play fewer minutes and probably be more efficient in doing so.
5. We will get better organically. We have six 2nd year players. I would not be surprised if all of them improved from last year. In some cases, I think there will be significant improvement. If I were to guess, that would be Robinson and Leonard (and to a lesser extend, Claver and Freeland). Lillard is already so awesome that his improvement is expected.
Bottom line, we will not only be better, but we should all be a little more optimistic about our prospects. No WCFs next year, but improvement. What more could you realistically ask for?