NBA Power Rankings: Sizing Up Every Team's Revamped Starting 5

Bradlee Ross@rossbeCorrespondent IIJuly 20, 2012

NBA Power Rankings: Sizing Up Every Team's Revamped Starting 5

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    The 2012 NBA offseason has been a blur, as a flurry of transactions have been rumored and nixed. Each NBA team’s starting five has gotten either better or worse, and now it is time to rank them.

    Many of the teams in the NBA look drastically different than they did just a few months ago. Some have made great additions to make their team much better, while others lost significant pieces and have become significantly worse.

    Here, each NBA team’s roster will be ranked No. 1 through No. 30. Remember, this is based purely on the starting five without taking any bench players into account. With that in mind, sit back and enjoy these rankings of the current starting units now that the free-agency period has mostly come and gone.

1. Miami Heat

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    PG: Mario Chalmers

    SG: Dwyane Wade

    SF: LeBron James

    PF: Shane Battier

    C: Chris Bosh

    The Miami Heat had the best starting five last season, and they do once again heading into the 2012-13 NBA season. The lineup is a bit small with Battier starting at the 4, but their ability to spread the floor and let James do work was brilliant in the finals.

    Now that they’ve seemingly figured it out, it could be a long season for the rest of the NBA.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

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    PG: Steve Nash

    SG: Kobe Bryant

    SF: Metta World Peace

    PF: Pau Gasol

    C: Andrew Bynum

    The Los Angeles Lakers have the second-best starting five in the league after adding future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash. World Peace is the weak link here, but he isn’t the most likely candidate to be gone by October.

    That would be Andrew Bynum, who seems like he could be dealt for Dwight Howard at any moment. If that trade were to happen, the Lakers would move very close to the top spot.

3. New York Knicks

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    PG: Jason Kidd

    SG: J.R. Smith

    SF: Carmelo Anthony

    PF: Amar’e Stoudemire

    C: Tyson Chandler

    The New York Knicks have a very impressive starting five, yet they are proof that such a thing does not equal wins.

    Still, the addition of Jason Kidd is impressive. He’ll bring a leadership that this team needs desperately. I put Smith in at SG, but it could be Iman Shumpert as well. Losing Landry Fields to Toronto hurt this starting five.

4. Boston Celtics

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    PG: Rajon Rondo

    SG: Avery Bradley

    SF: Paul Pierce

    PF: Brandon Bass

    C: Kevin Garnett

    It will be interesting to see if this smaller lineup with Garnett at center can last a full 82-game season. The departure of Ray Allen is also a concern, but Bradley has shown himself to be a more than adequate replacement.

    This lineup might be the most underrated in the league.

5. Brooklyn Nets

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    PG: Deron Williams

    SG: Joe Johnson

    SF: Gerald Wallace

    PF: Kris Humphries

    C: Brook Lopez

    There may have been some disappointment about the Brooklyn Nets failing to acquire Dwight Howard, but their starting five is still pretty good without him.

    The Nets are a bit weak down low, but Humphries showed himself to be a very solid player. Lopez is talented, but he is pretty soft in the post.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    PG: Russell Westbrook

    SG: Thabo Sefolosha

    SF: Kevin Durant

    PF: Serge Ibaka

    C: Kendrick Perkins

    The young Thunder starting five will go completely unchanged heading into next season, and for good reason.

    Adding James Harden would make this starting five better, but it won’t happen until OKC can find someone else to replicate his bench production. Perkins and Ibaka protect the rim fiercely, making up for some of the defensive deficiencies in Durant and Westbrook’s games.

7. San Antonio Spurs

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    PG: Tony Parker

    SG: Danny Green

    SF: Kawhi Leonard

    PF: Tim Duncan

    C: Boris Diaw

    The Spurs are another team who really don’t need to do much with their starting lineup. They are also another team that has significant talent (Manu Ginobili) that does not start, weakening their ranking here.

    Still, this lineup is a good one. It has a coveted mixture of youth and veteran experience that other teams would die for.

8. Chicago Bulls

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    PG: Derrick Rose

    SG: Richard Hamilton

    SF: Luol Deng

    PF: Carlos Boozer

    C: Joakim Noah

    A relatively quiet offseason has made a lot of people forget about the Chicago Bulls. The team that tied for the best record in the league last season is pretty complete and had a pretty good starting five already.

    Rose will be out for a while with the knee injury, and Hamilton’s ability to be effective at the shooting guard spot is also a concern.

9. Los Angeles Clippers

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    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: Chauncey Billups

    SF: Caron Butler

    PF: Blake Griffin

    C: DeAndre Jordan

    The one question for the Clippers is who will start at shooting guard, and my money is on Billups. L.A. rolled while he was healthy last season with him in that role. Plus, Crawford is just not a starter in this league.

    So, the starters remain the same, and they could be even farther up this list in a few years.

10. Orlando Magic

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    PG: Jameer Nelson

    SG: Jason Richardson

    SF: Hedo Turkoglu

    PF: Glen Davis

    C: Dwight Howard

    It’s extremely unlikely that this lineup is the same next week, much less in November. Still, it is a pretty good one.

    The re-signing of Jameer Nelson is a good thing, or at least it should be. Expect this to be drastically different and probably a little worse by the time the season kicks off, but it is still a good one right now.

11. Denver Nuggets

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    PG: Ty Lawson

    SG: Arron Afflalo

    SF: Danilo Gallinari

    PF: Kenneth Faried

    C: JaVale McGee

    The Nuggets didn’t do much in the offseason other than re-sign center JaVale McGee to a $44 million contract. He didn’t start much for them last season, but he needs to now.

    This lineup is extremely talented and still reaping the benefits of the Carmelo Anthony trade. In a few years, this team could be an elite one.

12. Indiana Pacers

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    PG: George Hill

    SG: Paul George

    SF: Danny Granger

    PF: David West

    C: Roy Hibbert

    This team proved it was ready to challenge the big boys of the Eastern Conference last season. The starting five is pretty good with Granger, Hibbert and West.

    However, this team is lacking star power and needs someone to step up if it is going to continue to get better.

13. Memphis Grizzlies

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    PG: Mike Conley Jr.

    SG: Tony Allen

    SF: Rudy Gay

    PF: Zach Randolph

    C: Marc Gasol

    The Grizzlies have the potential to compete with any team in the NBA with this lineup.

    The lack of chemistry when both Randolph and Gay are on the floor is the biggest reason this starting five fell this far. If they can get that figured out, they could be in the top five of this list.

14. Washington Wizards

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    PG: John Wall

    SG: Bradley Beal

    SF: Trevor Ariza

    PF: Emeka Okafor

    C: Nene

    The trade the Wizards completed with the New Orleans Hornets undeniably revamped their starting lineup. This is probably the biggest improvement of them all, and it could rise depending on how all these guys actually play together.

    Beal is the ideal shooting guard to pair with Wall, and Ariza and Okafor are also good fits.

15. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    PG: Kyrie Irving

    SG: Dion Waiters

    SF: Alonzo Gee

    PF: Tristan Thompson

    C: Anderson Varejao

    The Cavaliers are a young team on the brink of playoff contention. The loss of Antawn Jamison in free agency will hurt in the short term, but was probably necessary for the growth of the team long-term. Every position other than Irving and Waiters is probably not set in stone, but expect it to be a mix of those guys.

    This starting five could suddenly get a lot better if the team can swing a deal for Andrew Bynum.

16. Milwaukee Bucks

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    PG: Brandon Jennings

    SG: Monta Ellis

    SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

    PF: Ersan Ilyasova

    C: Samuel Dalembert

    This lineup is an interesting one, and it is a guess based on the moves the team has made in the offseason.

    Bringing in Dalembert addressed a need that was created when the team shipped Andrew Bogut to Golden State. The pressure is on Ilyasova, who got paid big money as a free agent. The potent offensive experiment of Jennings and Ellis will be interesting to watch.

17. Portland Trail Blazers

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    PG: Damian Lillard

    SG: Wesley Matthews

    SF: Nicolas Batum

    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge

    C: Joel Przybilla

    Fans should expect a better Blazers team next season.

    Lillard was talented in college, and his game should translate to the professional game pretty quickly. Keeping restricted free agent Nicolas Batum is a must, as he is one of the best young building blocks this team has.

18. Utah Jazz

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    PG: Mo Williams

    SG: Gordon Hayward

    SF: Josh Howard

    PF: Paul Millsap

    C: Al Jefferson

    Devin Harris was finally dealt by the Jazz, which is a very good thing, but it will be interesting to see if Mo Williams starts or plays a sixth man role similar to that which he served with the Clippers.

    The rest of the starting unit is pretty talented, although there is an alarming lack of star power. Not having a go-to guy when they need points the most did not help this team when it was getting swept in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.

19. Philadelphia 76ers

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    PG: Jrue Holiday

    SG: Evan Turner

    SF: Andre Iguodala

    PF: Spencer Hawes

    C: Kwame Brown

    That’s right Sixer fans, your new starting center will be Kwame Brown, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. That really brings down the unit as a whole, but it is still pretty strong otherwise.

    Getting rid of Elton Brand hurts, but it was a must. Nick Young could start in place of Turner, but that would be for shooting purposes only.

20. Dallas Mavericks

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    PG: Darren Collison

    SG: O.J. Mayo

    SF: Shawn Marion

    PF: Dirk Nowitzki

    C: Chris Kaman

    The Dallas Mavericks are a drastically different team than they were a month or two ago. Even though they missed out on Deron Williams, it isn’t all bad.

    Mayo and Collison are nice pieces that bring much needed youth. Kaman is a good player, but pairing him with Nowitzki seems like a defensive nightmare.

21. New Orleans Hornets

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    PG: Austin Rivers

    SG: Eric Gordon

    SF: Al-Farouq Aminu

    PF: Jason Smith

    C: Anthony Davis

    This team still has some work to do with its roster. It does have cap space to work with, and it’s possible some free-agent signings could be in its future.

    Anthony Davis will improve the Hornets defense immediately, while Austin Rivers will struggle to become an NBA point guard.

22. Golden State Warriors

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    PG: Stephen Curry

    SG: Klay Thompson

    SF: Harrison Barnes

    PF: David Lee

    C: Andrew Bogut

    This lineup is very talented, but there is a big reason why it isn’t higher on the list: It has won nothing yet. Three of these pieces have been together for a while and are still unable to win consistently.

    Curry is injury-prone, Barnes is a rookie, Bogut is new and none of them play great defense (except maybe Bogut). This starting unit has to prove some things before I put them any higher.

23. Atlanta Hawks

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    PG: Jeff Teague

    SG: Kyle Korver

    SF: Tracy McGrady

    PF: Josh Smith

    C: Al Horford

    I’m really guessing with this lineup. I have no idea who will be starting in the shooting guard and small forward spots, so they've been filled in with some offensive guys.

    The loss of Joe Johnson will help this team in the long run, especially in getting out from under his massive contract. Don’t be surprised if that lineup is much different when the season starts. Right now, it just seems to make the most sense to me.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    PG: Ricky Rubio

    SG: Brandon Roy

    SF: Derrick Williams

    PF: Kevin Love

    C: Nikola Pekovic

    The Timberwolves really needed to pick up another wing, and they did so with Roy, but their slide up these rankings is dependent upon what type of athletic form he shows. Pekovic played well at the center position last season, but Williams has major question marks.

    Still, with Rubio and Love as the foundation, this team should contend for a playoff spot.

25. Detroit Pistons

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    PG: Brandon Knight

    SG: Rodney Stuckey

    SF: Tayshaun Prince

    PF: Jason Maxiell

    C: Greg Monroe

    Sorry, Pistons fans, but I don’t think Andre Drummond is going to be ready to start at center right off the bat. This team is improving, but very slowly.

    Prince is the only remnant of 2004 championship squad left, and frankly, I’m surprised he is still there. Corey Maggette could start, but I doubt he will in place of Prince.

26. Phoenix Suns

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    PG: Goran Dragic

    SG: Shannon Brown

    SF: Michael Beasley

    PF: Luis Scola

    C: Marcin Gortat

    Beasley was a big addition for the Suns and should be a primary scoring threat. Gortat has been near All-Star caliber the past few seasons, but that could change without Nash passing him the rock.

    The Suns did acquire a solid replacement for Nash in Dragic, so maybe there won’t be as much drop-off as expected.

27. Houston Rockets

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    PG: Jeremy Lin

    SG: Jeremy Lamb

    SF: Terrence Jones

    PF: Royce White

    C: Greg Smith

    No one knows what this starting five will look like. The Rockets have done everything possible to nab Dwight Howard, including shipping off most of their team. I cobbled this together based on what they have now, and it isn’t very impressive.

    Hopefully Houston can make a few more moves to bolster this thing.

28. Sacramento Kings

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    PG: Isaiah Thomas

    SG: Marcus Thornton

    SF: John Salmon

    PF: Thomas Robinson

    C: DeMarcus Cousins

    This starting five is very talented, but it has been dysfunctional for a long time. I’m not sure this young group can overcome that.

    The addition of Robinson will help. His work ethic and toughness are needed. Notice that Tyreke Evans is not there; I’m betting he’ll be gone soon.

29. Toronto Raptors

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    PG: Kyle Lowry

    SG: Landry Fields

    SF: DeMar DeRozan

    PF: Jonas Valanciunas

    C: Andrea Bargnani

    The Toronto Raptors have improved their starting five quite a bit, but it still doesn’t excite me much.

    Bargnani has been a major disappointment in my opinion. Lowry and Fields are good additions, but neither is a star, and Fields was overpaid. DeMar DeRozan is running out of time to prove himself.

30. Charlotte Bobcats

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    PG: Ramon Sessions

    SG: Kemba Walker

    SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    PF: D.J. White

    C: Bismack Biyombo

    Sorry, Bobcats fans, your team isn’t getting better in a hurry. MKG is a great addition, but he alone won’t be enough to improve the lineup much. Sessions is a nice pickup, but not a game-changer. Walker may not start; I just couldn’t figure out who else should go there.

    This team and its starting five are still the worst in the league.