Having just one or two good players isn’t enough in the NBA, especially if the rest of their teammates just can’t follow their steps and help them carry the load in both ends of the hardwood.
Over the course of history, we’ve seen some studs struggle to find any kind of success due to the lack of a truly capable support cast next to them, with names of the likes of Allen Iverson coming to mind.
Even though Iverson was able to single-handedly lead the Sixers to the Finals, that’s not always the case, and regardless of a couple of good ballers, teams are not able to even make the playoffs if they don’t have a solid starting unit.
Today, we’re going to go ahead and take a look at some of this season’s rosters, ranking our top 10 worst starting 5s in the NBA. So, if you’re a fan of one of those teams, you’re in for a very, very long season.
10. Miami Heat: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
The Miami Heat is a team that’s stuck in a mediocrity spiral ever since the end of the Big 3 era. They have an averagely good player with no one that stands out from the crowd, they don’t have a superstar that can take them the distance, with Dwyane Wade ready to have “his last dance.”
Farewell tour or not, Wade isn’t the same player he once was, and Dragic and Whiteside are second-tier and fill-in All-Stars are best. Waiters is a huge question mark coming off a season-ending injury, Richardson can’t make a shot to save his life (although he’s a great defender) and other than hustle, there’s not much that James Johnson can provide.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: George Hill, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson
Following LeBron James’ departure, the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t looking much as a contending team, to be honest. Well, even with LeBron, they weren’t that good to begin with, especially considering how poorly JR Smith fared for most of the campaign and their lack of depth at the forward spots.
Now, things aren’t looking quite good for a team that should just trade away Kevin Love and start from scratch. They should just hand Collin Sexton the keys of the car, trade George Hill and let Sexton, Osman and Zizic prove that they have a future in this league.
8. Los Angeles Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat
Just like the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers are kind of lost right now. It seems like they just don’t have a plan and they’re like piling up guys and trying to see what works, as this team really doesn’t go really well altogether if you take a look at some of the guys they’ve landed lately.
Beverley is a hell of a defender but is coming off a season-ending injury, Avery Bradley was vastly exposed after leaving Brad Stevens’ tutelage, Danilo Gallinari can’t stay healthy and Marcin Gortat was only starting in Washington because his biggest competitor at the C spot was Ian Mahinmi. Tobias Harris is an underrated stud, though.
7. Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen, Robin Lopez
The Chicago Bulls make this list merely because they have a lot of potentials but these youngsters are yet to prove that they got what it takes to lead the Windy City back to their golden times of perennial Championship contention.
Robin Lopez is likely to be dealt and Wendell Carter Jr will take his place for sure. Dunn, LaVine and Parker come with huge question marks over their heads, mostly because of their proneness to get hurt and the fact that they have a sky-high ceiling but have struggled to establish themselves in the league quite yet.
6. Phoenix Suns: Elie Okobo, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Trevor Ariza, DeAndre Ayton
If you take a look at the bigger picture, the Phoenix Suns are actually a much better team this year now that they’ve added a lot of balance in Trevor Ariza, DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges to play off the bench next to TJ Warren.
Having said that, they have one of the biggest problems any team in the world can have: they don’t have a true starting caliber point guard. Also, even if Jackson and Ariza are proven stoppers, defense is going to be a major issue once again for them.
5. Brooklyn Nets: D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Demarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen
The Brooklyn Nets weren’t the league’s laughing stock as we all expected the prior campaign, but they weren’t quite good either. They lack a star, although D’Angelo Russell has shown glimpses of greatness when healthy and is entering a contract year, so he should be extra motivated.
Other than him, we have a poor man’s Nick Young in Allen Crabbe, a guy that stopped playing defense after getting paid in Demarre Carroll, an underrated versatile player that has no jump shot in RHJ, and Jarrett Allen, who has a lot of defensive upside but is constantly missing uncontested dunks and layups.
4. Orlando Magic: DJ Augustin, Jonathon Simmons, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic
The Orlando Magic are a much better team this season than they were the prior campaign, but we’re not liking their projected starting 5 one bit. For starters, Simmons should come off the bench to provide a nice offensive spark on their second unit, while Evan Fournier should shift to the SG spot and Jonathan Isaak should start from day one.
Moreover, and most importantly, this team needs to trade away Nikola Vucevic right now in order to let Mo Bamba grow through his mistakes. Bamba is a potential franchise player with sky-high ceiling, while an Isaak, Gordon, Bamba frontcourt would be deadly in the defensive end, although spacing the floor could be kind of tricky.
3. New York Knicks: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr, Mario Hezonja, Kevin Knox, Enes Kanter
With all the speculation amid Kristaps Porzingis potentially being shut down for the season, the New York Knicks have little motivation to play this year and are likely already planning ahead of the next Draft, as they simply don’t stand the slightest chance of making the playoffs without the Unicorn.
New York has a young stud in Kevin Knox, while Mario Hezonja could still wind up being a walking bucket. On the other hand, their logjam at the point guard position may be a disaster, especially if neither Mudiay or Ntilikina develop a consistent jumper.
2. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, Willie Cauley-Stein
The Kings are so bad we often forget they even exist. Even now, after they drafted Marvin Bagley with the 2nd overall pick, we feel as if it was a major reach by the team’s front office, and we don’t see them contending any time soon with this kind of unbalanced starting five, to be honest.
De’Aaron Fox proved to be a great player, especially in the clutch, while Bogdanovic made a nice adjustment to the pace and space of the NBA. Hield is a solid player but he needs to play better this season and WCS’s development has truly stalled after we all thought he’d become a defensive force. When it comes to Bagley, we’re not really excited, as we see him more as a tweener big man with no feel for defense whatsoever.
1. Atlanta Hawks: Jeremy Lin, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon
And congrats, Hawks fans, you’re officially stuck with the worst starting five in the entire Association, and that’s likely the only accolade you’re going to win this season. Jeremy Lin is very likely to miss his spot with Trae Young, something that would make a lot of sense considering he’s a potential franchise player.
Kent Bazemore is likely to be traded, being their lone valuable asset besides their young studs. Taurean Prince has really improved as he’s gained more confidence, but he’s a poor man’s Demarre Carroll at best. Dedmon is a heavy-footed center with no offensive game, and John Collins has the potential to become a great big man but should be playing center instead.