We are about a month away from the start of professional basketball. While there are some free agents lingering, most teams have an idea of what their roster is going to look like. The 2022-23 season will feature the Golden State Warriors looking to defend their title, as well as push for their fifth championship since 2015. While having a sound bench is a crucial part of the team’s success, only five players can be on the court.
That includes the start of the game when starting lineups are announced. These lineups may not be the lineup that closes out the game, but it’s the five players that will see a bulk of minutes during the game. Some lineups appear tougher than others. Some teams will be looking to see what their core can do as they build chemistry. If we had to take a look at each starting lineup, only one can be ranked as the best.
These are the rankings for the NBA’s starting lineups.
30. San Antonio Spurs
Starting Five: Tre Jones (PG), Devin Vassell (SG), Doug McDermott (SF), Keldon Johnson (PF), Jakob Poeltl (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: None
Jones could be the point guard of the future, while Vassell will see time at the guard spot as well with Dejounte Murray traded away. With the departure of the team’s lone All-Star, it leaves Keldon Johnson as the team’s best-returning player. He was a part of the gold medal squad for the Tokyo Olympics. Jones received an All-NBA G League Third Team selection in 2021.
This season is going to be all about how the team’s young talent develops. At 26 years old, Jakob Poeltl is a veteran in this lineup. The lingering question will be what kind of player Johnson is. The Spurs seem to love what he brings, but superstar seems to be a stretch. For the Spurs to take this rebuild seriously, the team will need to evaluate what his ceiling is.
With the team on track to finish with one of their worst seasons in team history, it will be mock draft simulations and No. 1 overall pick discussions in San Antonio. The true distraction will be Gregg Popovich. At 73 years old, how much does he have left? This starting lineup is the worst in the NBA. Why stick around? No NBA fan wants to see “Pop” go out with a losing record. But, with this lineup, it seems inevitable if this is his last season.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Starting Five: Josh Giddey (PG), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SG), Lu Dort (SF), Darius Bazley (PF), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 2x All-Rookie Second Team Selections
There is a growing feeling that Josh Giddey could be a version of Ben Simmons without the defense. Somebody that can score, rebound, and distribute. He is coming off of a 12.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6.4 APG season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is 24 years old and averaged 24.5 points per game, but he needs to prove he can be viewed as someone that can be durable. He has not played 70 games in a season since 2019-20.
What hampers the team the most is the loss of Chet Holmgren. The team lost the 2022 No. 2 overall pick to injury this summer. Holmgren is supposed to be the piece to fill the void in the post, but he also provides similar skills to Kristaps Porzingis because of his shooting. Bazley and Robinson-Earl will get their chance to shine, but it appears the team could be in line for another lottery pick.
So far, the Thunder have extended SGA and Dort to long-term contracts. Giddey will have two years left on his deal, so the team has some wiggle room to work with when looking into the future. The injury to Holmgren is a big blow because there were already concerns about his durability. A lottery pick sounds nice, but at some point, this rebuild will need to feature some spending.
28. Houston Rockets
Starting Five: Kevin Porter Jr. (PG), Jalen Green (SG), Jae’Sean Tate (SF), Jabari Smith (PF), Alperen Sengun (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection
At 22 years old, Porter has a high ceiling. He was the NBA G-League scoring champion and assist leader in 2021, where he was named a First-Team selection. Though the NBA is not the G League. Porter got his personal life under control and showed a strong season by averaging 15.6 points and 6.2 assists. Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun are both coming off of strong rookie seasons, so this core will look to take another step in their development.
All eyes will be on Jabari Smith, who was viewed as a No. 1 overall pick contender in 2022. Instead, Smith was drafted with the No. 3 overall pick by the Rockets. Smith has a strong upside. This core will need a year to develop its chemistry. At 26 years old, Jae-Sean Tate is the oldest player in the lineup.
Green and Smith are intriguing young prospects. Porter’s ceiling feels like one of Terry Rozier in scoring with better passing skills. If Green and Smith can be the offensive players we think they can be, the Rockets will have a bright future. Not to mention, Sengun was looking like an All-Rookie Team candidate last season after averaging 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.
27. Orlando Magic
Starting Five: Markelle Fultz (PG), Jalen Suggs (SG), Franz Wagner (SF), Paolo Banchero (PF), Wendell Carter Jr. (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection
The development process will hinge on how healthy everyone can be. Markell Fultz has enjoyed some success since joining the Magic in 2019. However, injuries have hampered him from playing a combined 26 games. Jalen Suggs played in 48 games last season, averaging 11.8 points per game. Franz Wagner made the All-Rookie First Team last year by averaging 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and shot 35.4% from three-point range.
At 23 years old, Wendell Carter Jr. is considered the veteran on this squad. He could break out this season. He played a career-high 62 games and averaged career highs in points (15.0), rebounds (10.5), and assists (2.8). The team also boasts the 2022 No. 1 overall pick in Paolo Banchero, who many believe is to be a stud in this league.
With everything said, the story will be all about Banchero’s development. The Magic own three No. 1 overall picks in the team’s history. That includes Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. Both were future legends with the organization and took the team to the NBA Finals. There is added pressure for Banchero with those expectations that he is the player that can get the team back to that level.
26. Detroit Pistons
Starting Five: Cade Cunningham (PG), Jaden Ivey (SG), Saddiq Bey (SF), Marvin Bagley (PF), Isaiah Stewart (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 3x All-Rookie First Team Selections
Cade Cunningham is coming off a rookie season that saw him average 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. He should be looked at as one of the top prospects in the league. His pairing with Jaden Ivey, the 2022 No. 4 overall pick, will be talked about among Detroit faithful as this appears to be the future for the team.
Keep looking at Saddiq Bey’s development as the 23-year-old has made huge strides. Marvin Bagley III is the piece that could tie everything together. The 23-year-old is a former All-Rookie First Team selection from 2019. If he lives up to the No. 2 pick status, taken in 2018, this could be a fun team down the line.
Isaiah Stewart is best remembered for his interaction with LeBron James. While it’s not a great look, Stewart brings toughness to the table. Stewart averaged 8.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and shot 51.0% from the field. This will be his third season. If Stewart can turn into a double-double type of player, the Pistons will take a huge step in their rebuild project.
25. Utah Jazz
Starting Five: Collin Sexton (PG), Malik Beasley (SG), Bojan Bogdanovic (SF), Lauri Markkanen (PF), Udoka Azubuike (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 2x All-Rookie First Team Selections, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
Collin Sexton was struggling through 11 games last year. The season before, he averaged 24.3 points per game, but last year that fell to 16.0, with his three-point shooting dropping 13%. Sexton is back after an injury and will receive a high volume of work with the rebuilding Jazz. Sexton joins Malik Beasley and Lauri Markkanen in pieces that were traded for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this off-season.
Mike Conley Jr. remains on the roster, but the team will be looking to move him or agree to a buyout. The same would be for Bojan Bogdanovic, but the team lacks depth at the position. Udoka Azubuike was once a top prospect. He will get a chance to shine now. While this isn’t the perfect lineup, these players have experience.
In the end, this team’s ranking will be near the bottom by the end of the season. It would be an absolute shock to see Conley, Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson by the end of the season. The Jazz made it clear about their intentions with the trades of Mitchell and Gobert. By the end of the season, the Jazz will feature a younger lineup.
24. Indiana Pacers
Starting Five: Tyrese Haliburton (PG), Chris Duarte (SG), Buddy Hield (SF), Jalen Smith (PF), Myles Turner (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 2x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 2x All-Rookie Second Team Selection, 1x NBA Three-Point Contest Champion, 2x Blocks Leader
The jewel of the trade package to send off Domantas Sabonis was Tyrese Haliburton. In 26 games, Haliburton averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and a whopping 9.6 assists per game. This could be a rising All-Star for the Pacers, similar to when Victor Oladipo was acquired by the team years back. Chris Duarte surprised many by being one of the top rookies last season. This will allow the backcourt to grow with a high ceiling.
Duarte averaged 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and shot 36.9% from three-point range. Duarte brings a vibe of being like a great value version of Tyler Herro, who averaged similar numbers his rookie season. If the Pacers have a version of Herro on their team, that is Sixth Man of the Year potential for the lineup. We will have to see if Duarte takes a step forward or back in his second season.
Questions about the team’s future will surround Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. Hield is seen as one of the best outside shooters on the market. When healthy, Turner has led the league in blocks. Smith was traded to the Pacers midseason and averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds. With the experience, paired with the potential, the Pacers will not be a complete bottom feeder.
23. New York Knicks
Starting Five: Jalen Brunson (PG), RJ Barrett (SG), Evan Fournier (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Mitchell Robinson (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x All-Star Selection, 1x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 1x Most Improved Player, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
The last two years have been fruitful for Brunson. Last year, Brunson averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists as a full-time starter. That led to the Knicks potentially overpaying for his services. He will get his chance to prove he is worth $100 million. Joining him will be someone looking to also prove he is worth $100 million in RJ Barrett. The No. 3 pick of the 2019 draft has seen Zion Williamson and Ja Morant make an All-Star appearance, but he has not joined himself.
With that said, the Knicks need to get back to what carried them during the 2020-21 season. That was defense. The frontcourt looks like it could be solid, but what does the addition of Brunson do? On paper, Brunson is a middle-of-the-pack defender amongst guards. His rating was similar to that of Kyle Lowry and Jordan Poole last season, so it’s not terrible if he can keep up his offensive numbers.
Most of the team’s awards come from Julius Randle. With Randle having a down year, the Knicks followed. He is the only All-Star in the lineup. Evan Fournier and Mitchell Robinson are solid players but are not top-tier players. The Knicks could be good on paper, but that’s exactly what it is. Paper.
22. Charlotte Hornets
Starting Five: LaMelo Ball (PG), Terry Rozier (SG), Gordon Hayward (SF), P.J. Washington (PF), Mason Plumlee (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 2x All-Star Selections, 1x Rookie of the Year, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selections, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
The loss of Miles Bridges is going to hurt the team. Bridges had an exceptional season last year, but his recent arrest for domestic abuse is going to likely keep him out for a very long time. That leaves Ball as the team’s best player, who is coming off of his first All-Star appearance. Joining him in the backcourt will be Terry Rozier, who has averaged at least 18.0 points per game in three consecutive seasons with Charlotte.
Questions about Gordon Hayward will always be in the air until he can prove himself. Hayward has not played at least 70 games in a season since 2018-19. His most appearances with Charlotte was last year with 49 games. P.J. Washington was once a starter but will get a chance to prove himself this year in a contract year.
Mason Plumlee rounds out the rest, who is coming off of a season where he averaged 24.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and shot 64.1% from the field. His shooting percentage was his best since his rookie season in the league, when he shot over 65%. It was also the first time he played over 70 games in a season since 2019-20.
21. Sacramento Kings
Starting Five: De’Aaron Fox (PG), Kevin Huerter (SG), Harrison Barnes (SF), Keegan Murray (PF), Domantas Sabonis (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 2x All-Star Selections, 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
De’Aaron Fox has been in the league since 2017, the same year as Domantas Sabonis. The difference between the two players is that Sabonis is a two-time All-Star. Fox has not received an All-Star nod once in his career. At some point, Fox needs to live up to being a true franchise player that can elevate the team to new heights. Sabonis and Fox could be a solid duo, but both have a lot to prove.
The NBA championship is misleading, as that was with Harrison Barnes. While Barnes was a starter for that team, he was the fourth-best player on that squad with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Barnes is potentially the fourth-best player on this team as well. Keegan Murray is an interesting prospect to watch, while Kevin Huerter provides outside shooting. This could be something special for Mike Brown to work with.
If the Kings want to break their streak of missing out on the playoffs, the team will need Fox and Sabonis to play at an All-Star level. The Kings have not qualified for the playoffs since 2006. Fox needs to prove he is a top guard in this league. Sabonis has yet to prove he can lead a team far as one of the faces of the franchise. If Murray is the type of player we saw from Summer League, it could be enough to flirt with breaking the curse.
20. Memphis Grizzlies
Starting Five: Ja Morant (PG), Desmond Bane (SG), Dillon Brooks (SF), Ziaire Williams (PF), Steven Adams (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x All-Star Selection, 1x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 1x Most Improved Player, 1x Rookie of the Year, 1x All-Rookie First Team, 2 All-Rookie Second Team Selections
Because Jaren Jackson Jr. is out for some time, the Grizzlies lose some value in their lineup. The team is going to need to see Ziaire Williams step up. As a rookie, Williams averaged 8.1 points and 2.1 rebounds. This is a significant drop off compared to what Jackson produced, and that doesn’t include how vital Jackson is defensive.
The combination of Morant and Jackson was a sound duo. The rise of Desmond Bane put the team on notice, but that was one year. Can he show that type of skill set again? Bane was exceptional shooting 43.6% from three-point range in part of his 18.2 points per game. Again, he has played just two seasons in the league.
Until Jackson returns, the team will rely heavily on Morant, who made his first All-Star appearance, All-NBA selection, and won Most Improved Player of the Year. We shouldn’t sleep on the productivity of Dillon Brooks, but this is based on starting lineups. This was a team that challenged the Warriors in the second round last year. Let’s see if they can rise to the next level.
19. New Orleans Pelicans
Starting Five: C.J. McCollum (PG), Herbert Jones (SG), Brandon Ingram (SF), Zion Williamson (PF), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 2x All-Star Selections, 2x Most Improved Player of the Year, 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 3x All-Rookie Second Team Selections
If Zion Williamson can stay healthy all season, he should be the frontrunner to win Most Improved Player of the Year. Williamson missed all of last season. Before that, he showed the world he was an All-Star. Williamson appears to be healthy, so we should expect big things from him but there are questions surrounding his durability. If that happens, you are looking at three Most Improved Player of the Year winners.
At some point, the improvement needs to make results. C.J. McCollum has never made an All-Star appearance. What we know is he was the second-best shooter in Trail Blazers history. Brandon Ingram is an All-Star but had too much on his load last year. A big three of McCollum, Ingram, and Williamson sounds solid on paper but they are all unproven in regards to the season and postseason success.
Herbert Jones made the All-Rookie Team last season and could be a breakout role player. What Jones brings as a role player will be vital to the team’s success. As for Jonas Valanciunas, he averaged 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds. It will be interesting to see if his offense stays high with Williamson returning to the fold. If all the pieces can mesh and stay healthy, New Orleans is an interesting wild card.
18. Portland Trail Blazers
Starting Five: Damian Lillard (PG), Anfernee Simons (SG), Josh Hart (SF), Jerami Grant (PF), Jusuf Nurkic (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 6x All-Star Selections, 1x All-NBA First Team Selection, 4x All-NBA Second Team Selections, 1x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 1x Rookie of the Year, 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection, 1x Slam Dunk Contest Champion
How much is Damian Lillard? He must be worth enough to promise him a $60 million salary. When looking at the team’s awards, he is the only player to ever have received an All-Star and All-NBA selection. However, Lillard is 32 years old and is coming off his first major injury season.
Anfernee Simons was given a contract worth over $100 million, while the team traded a first-round pick to acquire Jerami Grant. Simons is a former Slam Dunk Contest champion. His explosiveness is entertaining but can he be a player similar to C.J. McCollum? The team thinks he can give his three-point shooting percentage of 42.6% and 40.5% in the last two seasons.
The rest of the lineup features a defensive standout in Josh Hart. Jusuf Nurki owns double-double potential. Jerami Grant was once viewed as a Most Improved Player in 2020-21 when he averaged 22.3 points per game. Last year, Grant averaged 19.2 points per game. Is Grant for real, or was he just on a bad team? The Trail Blazers think they have a solid lineup. It feels that the team's success all hinges on Lillard given the lack of evidence to support that his surrounding cast can live up to expectations.
17. Toronto Raptors
Starting Five: Fred VanVleet (PG), Gary Trent Jr. (SG), OG Anunoby (SF), Scottie Barnes (PF), Pascal Siakam (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 2x All-Star Selection, 1x All-NBA Second Team, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 1x Most Improved Player of the Year, 1x Rookie of the Year, 1x All-Rookie First Team
The Raptors feature a starting lineup that owns two All-Star players and three players from the 2019 championship team in Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam. During that run, Siakam was the Most Improved Player of the Year, while VanVleet was one of the key reserves. Now, both have made All-Star appearances since then and have made massive growth in their game.
Throw in the addition of Scottie Barnes, who was the 2022 Rookie of the Year. The collective team can play fierce team defense, which is something that Nick Nurse preaches. Anunoby is the biggest question. How far is his ceiling? He averaged 17.1 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. If he can rise to All-Star status, this would raise the stock of Toronto.
Gary Trent Jr. should be considered a breakout candidate. In 70 games, he averaged 18.3 points and shot 38.3% from three-point range. That is C.J. McCollum's type of offense. It was a career-high for Trent, so this could be a big season for him by going over the 20-point threshold. This will be his fifth season in the league as he begins to enter the prime of his career.
16. Washington Wizards
Starting Five: Monte Morris (PG), Bradley Beal (SG), Will Barton (SF), Kyle Kuzma (PF), Kristaps Porzingis (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 4x All-Star Selections, 2x All-NBA Third Team Selections, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selections
If Beal and Porzingis can stay healthy, this lineup could be a dark horse in the league. We have not seen what a full season of Beal and Porzingis can do. Porzingis did not mesh well with Luka Doncic, which led to him being traded to the Wizards. Beal plays a different game which sounds good on paper.
The surrounding cast could be solid as well. Will Barton ranks among the Nuggets' top tier in three-point field goals. Kyle Kuzma won a championship and averaged 17.1 points per game in a full-time starter’s role. Monte Morris averaged a career-high 12.6 points per game in a full-time starter’s role as well.
It all goes back to Beal and Porzingis, though. Beal is someone that can average more than 30 points per game. Porzingis is an All-Star talent but has not played more than 43 games in a season since 2019-20. The Wizards are rolling the dice by extending Beal to a big contract and trading for Porzingis. Could their gamble pay off?
15. Los Angeles Lakers
Starting Five: Russell Westbrook (PG), Kendrick Nunn (PG), LeBron James (SF), Anthony Davis (PF), Thomas Bryant (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 4x NBA Championships, 4x Finals MVP Award, 5x MVP Award, 35x All-Star Selections, 5x All-Star Game MVP, 19x All-NBA First Team Selection, 8x All-NBA Second Team Selections, 4x All-NBA Third Team Selections, 7x All-Defensive First Team Selections, 3x All-Defensive Second Team Selections, 4x All-Rookie First Team Selections, 3x NBA Scoring Champions, 4x Assists Leader, 2x Blocks Leader
You might be looking at the combined awards and achievements and think to yourself, how can the Lakers be this low? The team has LeBron James, winner of four championships and Finals MVP Awards. The team has Anthony Davis, who also won a title with LeBron with the Lakers, and is an All-NBA talent with Defensive Player of the Year potential. There’s Russell Westbrook, one of two MVPs on this team and a triple-double machine.
The additions of Kendrick Nunn and Thomas Bryant are high-reward, low-risk scenarios. Nunn did not play last season due to injuries. At the time, he was coming off of a 2020-21 season where he averaged 14.6 points and shot 38.1% from three-point range. The Lakers desperately need an outside shooter and Nunn is viewed as that option. Bryant has major durability issues. He has played a combined 83 games in the last three seasons. If he can stay healthy, that allows Davis to remain out of the center position.
If you put this resume together last season, this was a top-3 starting lineup, right? Here’s the problem. We saw this lineup last year, and it led to 33 games. Granted, the team was hampered by injuries, but even when the team was healthy, it appeared that this was not a cohesive unit. When you look at the resume of this lineup, there should be no excuse for why this can’t work. Then again, you can also look at this lineup and go there are four of the five players with major injury concerns.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Starting Five: Darius Garland (PG), Donovan Mitchell (SG), Isaac Okoro (SF), Evan Mobley (PF), Jarrett Allen (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 4x All-Star Selections, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection, 1x Slam Dunk Contest Champion
Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen could be a modern version of the Twin Towers. The way those two played defense helped the Cavaliers turn into one of the top defensive efficient teams in the league. Mobley has been talked about as a version of Tim Duncan. If he adds offense to his skill set, he could be a dangerous player next year. Mobley should be on the watch for making the All-Star Game next season.
While losing Markkanen hurts the team some, the team is banking on the development of Isaac Okoro. Markkanen averaged 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. It was his length that made the team a dangerous team on defense. Last year, Okoro averaged 8.8 points and 3.0 rebounds. His rebounding will have to be better with the addition of Mitchell into the lineup.
The addition of Mitchell elevates this team. It doesn’t elevate the team into the top 10 as there remain no All-NBA players. Mitchell somewhat lived in Rudy Gobert’s shadow at times. If Mitchell can elevate the Cavaliers to a top-4 team in the East, he should finally be an All-NBA player. The backcourt of Garland and Mitchell, both All-Stars, could be another strength for the team.
13. Dallas Mavericks
Starting Five: Luka Doncic (PG), Tim Hardaway (SG), Dorian Finney-Smith (SF), Christian Wood (PF), JaVale McGee (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 3x NBA Championships, 3x All-Star, 3x All-NBA First Team Selection, 1x Rookie of the Year, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selection
Something needs to be said about how the Mavericks made the Conference Finals last season with Porzingis getting traded midseason. Luka Doncic is giving us chills when he plays. It’s like watching Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant play at times. Doncic’s performance with the 2022 Mavericks was very late-80s Bulls. He can lead this team, but imagine if he had another superstar on the team.
The management thought that was Porzingis and it didn’t work. The team acquired Christian Wood during the summer. That could be a great pairing, but Wood was putting up big numbers on a bad team. He needs to prove something. JaVale McGee’s championship pedigree with the Warriors and Lakers will help experience, but will it help Tim Hardaway Jr. turn into an All-Star? We are measuring starting lineups, and this lineup could be great with some of the new additions.
Plain and simple: Doncic needs help. When Dirk Nowitzki won a title in 2011, he had a stellar partner in Jason Terry, while Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, and Shawn Marion were great compliments that went in and out of the rotation. Dorian Finney-Smith and JaVale McGee are not Marion and Chandler. As for the next Jason Terry, Hardaway gets paid a lot of money to fulfill that role on offense and hasn’t lived up to it. It’s been a long time since he averaged 19.1 points with the Knicks in 2018-19. It’s about time to live up to the money.
12. Atlanta Hawks
Starting Five: Trae Young (PG), Dejounte Murray (SG), De’Andre Hunter (SF), John Collins (PF), Clint Capela (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 3x All-Star Selections, 1x All-NBA Third Team Selections, 1x All-Defensive Second Team Selection, 1x All-Rookie First Team Selections, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection, 1x Steals Leader, 1x Rebounding Leader
Trae Young and Luka Doncic come from the same draft class and both own three All-Star appearances. Doncic holds the lead on All-NBA selections, so when you compare the two players, one would likely rather take Doncic. Since we are measuring starting lineups, something should be said about how four players in this lineup have something to offer. The new addition of Dejounte Murray gives the team two All-Star players.
Murray also led the league in steals last season. It could be the perfect balance of elite offense and defense together. Capela once led the league in rebounding, while John Collins made an All-Rookie Team, but is a stretch big man that can shoot outside. If De’Andre Hunter can stay healthy, this should be a starting lineup worth considering for the top-10.
There should be more talk about Clint Capela’s regression last year. After winning the rebounding title in 2020-21, Capela dropped back last season. He averaged 15.2 points and 14.3 rebounds, only to see it drop to 11.1 points and 11.9 rebounds. The Hawks are not exactly a big team. They need the body of Capela to scoop up boards on both sides.
11. Chicago Bulls
Starting Five: Lonzo Ball (PG), Zach LaVine (SG), DeMar DeRozan (SF), Patrick Williams (PF), Nikola Vucevic (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 9x All-Star Selections, 2x All-NBA Second Team Selections, 1x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 3x All-Rookie Second Team Selections, 2x Slam Dunk Contest Champion
When healthy, the Bulls were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. The world slept on DeMar DeRozan and he made them pay by making an All-NBA appearance. DeRozan, LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, that is three players on the team with All-Star accolades. It is all going to go back to health for this team.
Patrick Williams played in 17 games last season. Lonzo Ball played in 35 games last season. There is a growing concern he could miss the start of the year due to setbacks. Ball was supposed to return last year but never did. Now, we are hearing that there could be another setback that could keep Ball out for the start of the season. If that happens, the team is not deep enough at point guard to fill that spot. Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu could fill the void, but the team is a lot better with both of those players getting off the bench with the second unit.
There are concerns about LaVine’s knees as well. The Bull just guaranteed the largest contract ever to a player that has made one playoff appearance and never made the second round. LaVine will need to prove he is worth that kind of contract. DeRozan can’t replicate last year’s load again. If the Bulls run into the injury bug, this team could fall down the standings very fast. If they play together, this is a great starting lineup with a high ceiling.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves
Starting Five: D’Angelo Russell (PG), Anthony Edwards (SG), Kyle Anderson (SF), Karl-Anthony Towns (PF), Rudy Gobert (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 7x All-Star Selections, 1x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 5x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 1x Rookie of the Year, 3x Defensive Player of the Year, 6x All-Defensive First Team Selection, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selections, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection, 1x Rebounding Leader, 1x Blocks Leader, 1x Three-Point Contest Champion
The arrival of Rudy Gobert gives the Timberwolves a top-10 starting lineup in the league. Paired with Karl-Anthony Towns, this could be the best frontcourt in the league. Towns are the reigning Three-Point Contest champion. While that means little in games, Towns took a massive jump in outside shooting the last few years. With him as a stretch power forward, he could be lethal. We have seen what John Collins can do. Towns are better and will benefit from the addition of Gobert.
You have Gobert in the middle, who led the league in rebounds last season and is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. D’Angelo Russell is playing for a new contract, so we can expect a big season from him. Kyle Anderson is a solid role player and has been throughout his career. Anthony Edwards should be on All-Star watch. In his third season, Edwards could make a massive jump with the talent around him.
But is Edwards mature enough to make that jump? Edwards is 21 years old and the Timberwolves are in win-now mode. The team does not ship off that much draft capital to be patient. Edwards averaged 21.3 points per game, but he was recently in the news for using homophobic slurs. That has nothing to do with his jump shot, but it has everything to do with maturity and mindset. Edwards is viewed as a future All-Star in this league. He has the talent, but the Timberwolves are not a team viewed as a winning culture; hence, why the team has had two playoff appearances since 2004. If that is going to change, a lot of this season will spend on year three with the 2020 No. 1 overall pick.
9. Denver Nuggets
Starting Five: Jamal Murray (PG), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG), Michael Porter Jr. (SF), Aaron Gordon (PF), Nikola Jokic (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 2x MVP Award, 4x All-Star, 3x All-NBA First Team Selections, 1x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
Nikola Jokic is the reigning two-time MVP. There is a lot to be said about what Jokic did last season. He became the first player in league history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a season. Jokic is just one guy, though. How many times have we seen the Nuggets sound great on paper, only to be a first or second-round team? That is because Jokic can’t do everything on his own.
Jamal Murray showed us glimpses of what he can be, but he has never made an All-Star Game. Michael Porter Jr. just got paid like an All-Star, but he hasn’t either. Aaron Gordon has been in the league long enough to know what he offers. The only champion in this lineup is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was the Lakers' third-best offensive player during the playoffs that year.
At some point, what’s on paper can’t trump reality. Murray and Porter need to prove they are worth being paid like top players. This lineup has top-3 potential when you look at it on paper, but what draws the team back to nine is how Murray, Porter, Gordon, and Jokic have not proven anything together. Murray and Jokic played in the Conference Finals in 2020, but that was about three years ago. What have you done for me lately? Until then, there are more complete starting lineups.
8. Miami Heat
Starting Five: Kyle Lowry (PG), Victor Oladipo (SG), Jimmy Butler (SF), Caleb Martin (PF), Bam Adebayo (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 14x All-Star Selections, 6x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 1x All-Defensive First Team Selections, 8x All-Defensive Second Team Selection, 2x Most Improved Player of the Year, 1x All-Rookie First Team, 2x Steals Leader
A full offseason for Victor Oladipo to work himself into this core should make the Heat even more interesting to follow. Oladipo and Butler have led the league in steals once. When healthy, this could be some of the best perimeter defense in the league. While Kyle Lowry is not as young as he used to be, he remains a hustle player that owns a championship-winning pedigree.
The question mark will be at power forward since the departure of PJ Tucker. Caleb Martin should just find it. Remember, this team brings back Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, who could start on many teams in this league. The team could go small with Lowry and Oladipo. Butler, Herro, and Adebayo at times.
All around, this team is defensively sound. Adebayo is a three-time All-Defensive Second Team selection for the last three seasons. He might be one of the most fun players to watch. Adebayo had the second double-double season of his career with 19.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. Altogether, the Heat are poised to make another run to the Conference Finals or further.
7. Boston Celtics
Starting Five: Marcus Smart (PG), Jaylen Brown (SF), Jayson Tatum (SF), Al Horford (PF), Robert Williams III (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 9x All-Star Selections, 1x All-NBA First Team Selection, 2x All-NBA Third Team Selections, 1x Eastern Conference Finals MVP, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 3x All-Defensive First Team, 2x All-Defensive Second Team Selection, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 2x All-Rookie Second Team Selections
As Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum enter the primes of their careers, the Celtics will go as far as they take them offensively. Defensively, the combination of Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Robert Williams III will pick up the rest. This starting lineup features two players that made the All-Defensive Team last season, including the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year. Smart became the first guard since Gary Payton to win DPOY.
The development of Williams is intriguing. We forget that Williams was an All-Defensive Second Team player last year. That was on top of being efficient in the paint with 73.6% shooting. For his career, Williams shot 72.8% from the field. Imagine a world where his rebounding and shot-blowing improve because right now we are watching a lite version of Rudy Gobert. If Williams takes a jump in year five, the rest of the league should look out.
This team pushed the Warriors into the NBA Finals, only to lose in six games. After years of bowing out in the Conference Finals, this team was able to use its past to fuel its future. Tatum made his first All-NBA First Team appearance last year. The next step would be considered in the MVP conversation. He has the potential, but will he make that next jump in his career?
6. Phoenix Suns
Starting Five: Chris Paul (PG), Devin Booker (SG), Mikal Bridges (SF), Jae Crowder (PF), Deandre Ayton (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 15x All-Star Selections, 1x All-Star Game MVP, 5x All-NBA First Team Selection, 5x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 2x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 8x All-Defensive First Team, 2x All-Defensive Second Team, 1x Rookie of the Year, 5x Assists Leader, 6x Steals Leader, 3x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 1x Three-Point Contest Champion
Before we get to the star power, something needs to be said about Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder. If there was an award for the best role player, both should be considered. Bridges is going to be an All-Defensive player one day. On top of that, he averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and shot 53.4% from the field. As for Crowder, he plays physically and always sticks up for his teammates. He shot 38.9% from three-point range his first year. If that gets back to that, the Suns are dangerous again.
The Chris Paul factor certainly helps boost this team’s stock. Out of the 15 All-Star appearances, Paul has 12 of them. That also includes leading the league in assists five times and steals six times. Since Paul’s arrival, the team has taken strides towards better post defense, while helping the offensive game of Deandre Ayton. Ayton’s tenure with the team is going to be a distraction to start the year. Despite agreeing to a contract extension, there are rumors he could be dealt with at the deadline.
Ayton has not made an All-Star appearance. He hasn’t won an award outside of making the All-Rookie Team. However, the team owns Devin Booker, who made his first All-NBA First Team appearance. He also owns the three other All-Star appearances. With this elite backcourt, the Suns remain a championship contender next season.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Starting Five: Jrue Holiday (PG), Grayson Allen (SG), Khris Middleton (SF), Giannis Antetokounmpo (PF), Brook Lopez (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 1x Finals MVP Award, 2x MVP Award, 11x All-Star, 1x All-Star Game MVP, 4x All-NBA First Team, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 6x All-Defensive First Team, 4x All-Defensive Second Team, 1x All-Rookie First Team, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
Three members of this team have made the All-Defensive Team since 2020. That includes Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez. The three of them, plus Khris Middleton, are the core of the 2021 championship team’s starting lineup. Just like Paul elevates the Suns, the Bucks are elevated with their two-time MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There is no reason to doubt that Antetokounmpo can’t win the MVP for the third time in his career. He was runner-up in the scoring race last season with 29.9 points per game. That also included 11.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. The big three of Holiday, Middleton, and Giannis could lead the Bucks back to the Conference Finals and even further.
We could talk about Giannis all day, but the big three of Middleton and Holiday are what makes this team all-around great. Each player has their role and they do it great. The player with the most intrigue is Grayson Allen, though. Allen averaged 11.1 points and shot 40.9% from three-point range last year. He is the most antagonizing player in the league. With a full offseason to develop chemistry, on top of being on an elite squad, look for Allen to have the best season of his career.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Starting Five: Tyrese Maxey (PG), James Harden (SG), Tobias Harris (SF), P.J. Tucker (PF), Joel Embiid (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 1x NBA Championship, 1x MVP Award, 15x All-Star Selections, 6x All-NBA First Team Selections, 4x All-NBA Second Team Selections, 1x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 3x All-Defensive Second Team, 1x Sixth Man of the Year, 4x Scoring Champion, 1x Assists Leader, 1x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection
Imagine having two of the past scoring champions in the last three seasons on the same team. Now, imagine that one of those players is a guard, and the other is a center. That’s a dream when you have two of the top players in the backcourt and frontcourt. Embiid is so gifted that he can score outside as well, which opens more for the team. Assuming that this offseason gave Harden and Embiid plenty of time to work on their chemistry, the 76ers could be a version of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, but more modern. That includes three-point shooting, where Embiid shot 37.1% last season.
Tobias Harris is a 20-point scoring threat, so the offense could be potent. The addition of PJ Tucker is huge. Tucker is a former champion and brings an element of toughness, which some members of the team need at times. Think about Tucker’s last two seasons. He won a title with the Bucks in 2021. Then he played in the Conference Finals, which went to seven games, last season. This guy can bring some valuable thoughts to a team that has yet to make a Conference Finals since 2001.
The most interesting player in this lineup will be Tyrese Maxey. In his second season, he averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists. Maxey could be a prospect to keep an eye on in his third season. His offensive stats are solid but could take a step back with Harden on the team. On the flip side, if Harden takes on a bigger role offensively, we could dive into how Maxey has developed as a playmaker. Either way, we should expect big things out of him.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
Starting Five: John Wall (PG), Norman Powell (SG), Paul George (SF), Kawhi Leonard (PF), Ivica Zubac (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 3x NBA Championships, 2x Finals MVP Award, 13x All-Star Selections, 1x All-Star Game MVP, 4x All-NBA First Team Selections, 2x All-NBA Second Team Selections, 6x All-NBA Third Team Selections, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 5x All-Defensive First Team Selections, 6x All-Defensive Second Team, 1x Most Improved Player of the Year, 2x All-Rookie First Team, 1x All-Rookie Second Team Selection, 2x Steals Leader, 1x Slam Dunk Contest Champion
With John Wall as your third-best offensive scoring option, the Clippers have a strong offensive team. We saw what the duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard did when they were healthy. The team made their first-ever Conference Finals appearances before Leonard missed time with an ACL injury. Now that he is back healthy, the Clippers own three players that have owned averages of over 20.0 points per game.
The most consistent player in the lineup is Ivica Zubac. The last three seasons have seen Zubac play at least 70 games in a season. Last year, we saw the best out of him with 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game. If the rest of the cast can stay on the floor, Zubac should give the team a formidable player in the middle.
The biggest issue is health. Wall, Leonard, and George combined to play 31 games last year and all of those came from George. Both Wall and Leonard did not play last season. Both appear to be in great health and in good spirits. With an outside shooter in Norman Powell, who brings championship experience with the 2019 Raptors, we could see the Clippers make a run to the NBA Finals this year.
2. Brooklyn Nets
Starting Five: Kyrie Irving (PG), Seth Curry (SG), Ben Simmons (SF), Kevin Durant (PF), Nicolas Claxton (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 3x NBA Championships, 2x Finals MVP, 1x MVP Award, 22x All-Star Selections, 3x All-Star Game MVP, 6x All-NBA First Team Selection, 5x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 3x All-NBA Third Team Selection, 2x All-Defensive First Team, 2x 50-40-90 Club, 3x Rookie of the Year, 2x All-Rookie First Team Selection, 4x Scoring Champion, 1x Steals Leader, 1x Three-Point Contest Champion
As long as Kevin Durant plays for your team, you remain an elite team. It didn’t look like it last year, but with Kyrie Irving’s drama around his vaccination status and the trade for James Harden, the Nets didn’t have a chance. Essentially, the team traded Harden for nothing last year because Ben Simmons did not play with the team. Assuming he is healthy, moving him to a forward position could make this team very good. Simmons could still handle the ball as a point forward, but it allows him to focus more on rebounding. He doesn't have to be a top offensive player with the skills of Irving and Durant.
Assuming Irving handles the point, keep an eye out for Curry leading the league in three-point shooting this year. With the Nets, Curry averaged 46.8% shooting from three-point range in 19 games. That was a six percent increase from his time with the 76ers. When Joe Harris, someone who is good enough to start in this lineup, won the three-point shooting title, he had the luxury of playing alongside Irving.
Irving and Simmons both have excellent passing IQs. It will come down to if Irving, Simmons, and Durant can play together. That was the biggest issue last year, and it led to Harden getting dealt. Durant wanted out this summer but elected to stay. If the team can see this through, the Nets could make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time in 20 years.
1. Golden State Warriors
Starting Five: Stephen Curry (PG), Klay Thompson (SG), Andrew Wiggins (SF), Draymond Green (PF), Kevon Looney (C)
Combined Awards And Achievement: 4x NBA Championships, 1x Finals MVP Award, 2x MVP Award, 18x All-Star Selections, 1x All-Star Game MVP, 4x All-NBA First Team Selection, 4x All-NBA Second Team Selection, 4x All-NBA Third Team Selections, 1x Rookie of the Year, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 4x All-Defensive First Team, 4x All-Defensive Second Team, 1x Western Conference Finals MVP, 2x Scoring Champion, 2x Steals Leader, 1x 50-40-90 Club, 3x All-Rookie First Team Selections, 3x Three-Point Contest Champion
The best starting lineup in the NBA features the reigning champions. The 2022 championship Warriors boast four players in the starting lineup with All-Star recognition. It features the greatest three-point shooter of all time, as well as someone who could be considered a top-5 shooter of all time in Klay Thompson. Draymond Green is a seven-time All-Defensive player that has adapted to any circumstance and put the team first. This core of three players has made six NBA Finals appearances together, winning four championships.
The addition of Wiggins was essential to last year’s title. Wiggins was the team’s leading rebounder. He made his first All-Star appearances, while his defense grew as well. Let’s not forget about Kevon Looney, who was a hustle player that can rebound as well. In reality, the Warriors have an abundance of riches as Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga could probably start on other teams, while James Wiseman is back after missing last year with an injury.
All five players in this starting lineup own a championship ring. No other starting lineup can say that. Let that sink in. We didn’t even talk about how Stephen Curry is the center of all of this and the reigning Finals MVP winner. That’s how great this lineup is. The Warriors could repeat as champions this season and nobody would be surprised. That is what happens when you are a dynasty, though.