Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr insists their 2020-21 season should be regarded as a success despite missing the playoffs.
The Warriors lost their play-in game 117-112 in over-time against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, meaning they miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
Golden State had won 15 of their final 20 regular-season matches and eight of their last nine to finish with a 39-33 record, before losing both play-in games.
It was a vast improvement on their 2019-20 campaign where they finished 15-50 following serious injuries to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry and were not invited to the NBA bubble.
"I think this season was absolutely a success," Kerr said during his post-game video conference. "We would’ve loved to have gotten into the playoffs and tried to make a run.
"We were really a good team over the last 22 games. To put together a stretch like that over an entire quarter of the season is not a fluke. We were the number one defense over that span.
"To watch these young guys grow and develop, that makes this a successful season because of what it sets up for next year."
Golden State were also narrowly beaten in Wednesday's play-in game for seventh seed against the Los Angeles Lakers following some late LeBron James magic.
Kerr added: "Obviously a crushing way to go out, two straight games that were basically gut punches.
"We felt we had control of the game the other night and lost and really didn’t have the control of this one and could've won. We had the last shot in regulation [which missed]."
Kerr also praised star shooting guard Curry and Draymond Green on their outstanding seasons.
"Steph and Draymond have had fantastic years," he said. "We made a lot of strides this year and I'm really excited about what's next for this group.
"For now, I'm really disappointed they're not going to get the chance to play in the play-offs. It would’ve been a lot of fun."