Projecting the Starting Lineup of Every NBA Team Post-Peak Free Agency
Training camp is still a long ways out, but this is how each team’s starting lineup will look after camp ends and the season begins.
There are still a few free agents fluttering around in the breeze, but the big names have mostly been signed thus far. With that in mind, we take a look at how every NBA team will look when its announcers introduce their starting five on opening night.
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Ben Gordon
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF: Bismack Biyombo
C: Brendan Haywood
The Charlotte Bobcats should improve on their miserable 2011-12 season, but they will still be among the worst teams in the NBA still in 2012-13.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will add ferocity to the lineup and Ramon Sessions will be a welcome addition off the bench.
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Trevor Ariza
C: Emeka Okafor
Washington will match a dynamic backcourt with a defensive-oriented front line.
Bradley Beal and John Wall will form one of the quickest guard combinations in the league. With Nene, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor manning the paint, easy buckets could be difficult to come by.
The Wizards should improve quite a bit in 2012-13.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Dion Waiters
SF: Omri Casspi
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Tyler Zeller
Rebuilding will be the buzzword around Cleveland this year. The Cavaliers will sacrifice wins in the 2012-13 season to develop its young core group of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller.
The youngsters will take their lumps in hopes of it better preparing them for the future.
New Orleans Hornets
PG: Austin Rivers
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Al-Farouq Aminu
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Anthony Davis
New Orleans pulled off a big win on lottery day by snagging the No. 1 pick, but that will not equate to many wins this fall.
Anthony Davis will have a good year and anchor the team, but he will not be surrounded by much help.
Some nights, however, the Hornets will get hot from three-point land with Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon.
PG: Aaron Brooks
SG: Marcus Thornton
SF: Tyreke Evans
PF: Thomas Robinson
C: DeMarcus Cousins
If this group is able to get on the same page, the Sacramento Kings will be a sleeper team in 2012-13.
This offense is loaded and capable of going off on any given night.
Sacramento still needs to bring in a defensive stopper to put this team over the top.
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Gerald Wallace
PF: Kris Humphries
C: Brook Lopez
There is no real weak spot in Brooklyn’s starting five—assuming Brook Lopez returns to full health.
Re-signing Deron Williams was a huge off-season move. Adding Joe Johnson and keeping Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace in the fold make the Nets a scary opponent in the upcoming season.
Golden State Warriors
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Harrison Barnes
SF: Carl Landry
PF: David Lee
C: Andrew Bogut
Coach Mark Jackson will be faced with a tough decision entering the season. He can either play big, with Carl Landry at small forward and Harrison Barnes at shooting guard, or go with a smaller, perimeter-based offense with Barnes at small forward and sharpshooter Klay Thompson at shooting guard.
Expect to see Jackson go big early to improve the Warriors’ rebounding and erase Golden State’s soft reputation.
Thompson will join Richard Jefferson and Jarrett Jack in a dangerous second unit.
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Terrence Ross
SF: DeMar DeRozan
PF: Andrea Bargnani
C: Jonas Valanciunas
The immediate prospects for Toronto Raptors fans are not too promising. Adding Kyle Lowry will help, but the Raptors will still have trouble in the front court.
Quincy Acy will be the biggest question mark. If he is able to live up to his potential, Toronto will pick up a couple more wins.
Regardless of Acy’s performance, the Raptors are destined for the lottery again.
PG: Brandon Knight
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Jonas Jerebko
C: Greg Monroe
A talented backcourt of Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey will pair nicely with budding star center Greg Monroe.
If Andre Drummond turns out to be boom instead of bust, the Pistons will have a talented twin tower situation with which to work.
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Brandon Roy
SF: Chase Budinger
PF: Kevin Love
C: Nikola Pekovic
Brandon Roy’s addition to the Minnesota Timberwolves will help the team, but only for 15-20 minutes per night. With his achy knees, coach Rick Adelman will have to closely monitor his minutes and likely keep him out of some back-to-back games.
Wesley Johnson will be a capable replacement for Roy off the bench.
With Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are in good shape.
Chase Budinger adds another three-point threat.
Portland Trail Blazers
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Wesley Matthews
SF: Nicolas Batum
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Meyers Leonard
Eyes in Portland will be on NBA Summer League co-MVP Damian Lillard and recently re-signed Nicolas Batum.
Lillard showed great athleticism and flashes of brilliance in Las Vegas.
Batum’s comments about wanting to be in Minnesota did little to keep him in fans’ good graces. However, Portland fans will welcome him back with open arms if he plays with energy all season.
Meyers Leonard will have a short leash in the starting lineup with J.J. Hickson on the bench. Hickson and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge demonstrated good chemistry while on the court together briefly last season.
PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Mike Dunleavy
PF: Drew Gooden
C: John Henson
Rookie John Henson will be thrown right into the fold as the Milwaukee Bucks’ starting center this year. Henson has long arms and was an outstanding shot blocker at North Carolina.
The guard combination of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will be a lot of fun for fans to watch, but it may not lead to the results fans want.
Henson’s ability to clean up their defensive lapses will help, but it will be a heavy load for a rookie to carry.
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Shannon Brown
SF: Jared Dudley
PF: Luis Scola
C: Marcin Gortat
Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall will be the most interesting story line in Phoenix Suns camp. The two point guards will battle it out in the preseason, with Dragic ultimately winning the starting spot. That will allow Marshall time to adapt to the NBA game.
Dragic shouldn’t get too comfortable, as Marshall looks to have a good career ahead of him.
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Terrence Jones
C: Omer Asik
Defining Terrence Jones’ role will be the biggest challenge for this year’s Houston Rockets team. He is a combo forward and could go back and forth between small and power forward positions.
His athleticism and toughness will prove too valuable to keep off the court.
Jeremy Lin will enter camp as the starting point guard. It will be interesting to follow the progression of his season to see if his spurt with the Knicks can hold up for an entire season.
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Evan Turner
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: Arnett Moultrie
C: Spencer Hawes
The Philadelphia 76ers were one of the deepest teams in the NBA last season. That should not change too much this season, especially with the addition of two talented rookies, Arnett Moultrie and Moe Harkless.
Finding time and touches to keep this deep 76ers team happy will be the biggest challenge.
New York Knicks
PG: Raymond Felton
SG: J.R. Smith
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire
C: Tyson Chandler
This New York Knicks team has most of its key components back, along with a potential upgrade at point guard.
If Raymond Felton returns to the form he showed during his last stint with the Knicks, he will prove more valuable to this team than Jeremy Lin ever could be.
Adding Jason Kidd as an insurance policy was a wise move as well.
The biggest concern for the Knicks does not come in the starting lineup, but rather with the aging backup big men Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby.
PG: Mo Williams
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Marvin Williams
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Al Jefferson
Big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will be the focal point of this Utah Jazz team. With Derrick Favors emerging as a more than capable backup for Millsap, Utah’s front court will cause problems throughout the Western Conference.
Whether Marvin Williams plays like he cares will go a long way toward determining how far this Jazz team can go.
PG: Darren Collison
SG: O.J. Mayo
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Chris Kaman
The retooled Dallas Mavericks can toss out different starting lineups on almost a nightly basis and still have a good team on the court.
Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman is the best group possible—on paper. We will see if that group establishes the chemistry necessary to make a run at another NBA title.
Collison is a huge acquisition from the Indiana Pacers.
The young and old mix of Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder, Elton Brand and Vince Carter will add spice to the Mavs’ lineup off the bench and in spot starts.
Dallas is deep. The downside, however, is the Mavs are deep with veterans, meaning durability could become an issue.
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Jason Richardson
SF: Hedo Turkoglu
PF: Glen Davis
Clearly, Dwight Howard’s status is the biggest question mark for the Orlando Magic.
If Howard is on the team come training camp, he is the starter and the rest of the pieces fall into place around him.
If he is gone, expect to see at least two of these players swapped out of the starting lineup with players coming over via trade for Howard.
This is a decent group, but don’t expect the Magic to escape the second round of the playoffs going with this starting five.
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: JaVale McGee
There is plenty of competition for starting spots on this Denver Nuggets roster.
Wilson Chandler could make his way into the starting lineup over Arron Afflalo, giving the Nuggets an unorthodox lineup. Afflalo, however, will enter camp as the de facto starter. The job will be his to lose.
JaVale McGee is also in a situation where the starting spot is his to play his way out of. If his on-court production is overshadowed by his on-court antics, Al Harrington and Kenneth Faried may take over the post positions.
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
After Ray Allen’s subpar postseason, Courtney Lee will not have as much pressure on him to step into the role as Boston’s starting shooting guard.
While the locker room will still belong to Paul Pierce and the huddles to Kevin Garnett, this team is ready to ride the slender shoulders of Rajon Rondo.
Rondo makes players around him better, which is why Brandon Bass will be a serviceable starting power forward. Rondo will also help bring along the development of backup Jared Sullinger.
An aging Pierce will see his minutes decline as Jeff Green fights for playing time.
Los Angeles Clippers
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Chauncey Billups
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Blake Griffin
C: DeAndre Jordan
The Los Angeles Clippers will institute a two-point guard system with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups to start the season. Those two guys are too good to keep out of the starting lineup.
Jamal Crawford will push Billups for the off-guard spot, but faces an uphill climb.
Lamar Odom will be a good addition as a sixth man by way of his versatility. He can come off the bench to play small forward, power forward or center. If Caron Butler’s production slips, however, Odom will step into the smarting small forward spot.
PG: Jeff Teague
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Kyle Korver
PF: Josh Smith
C: Al Horford
Newcomer Devin Harris will push incumbent Jeff Teague for the starting point guard position, but Teague will enter the season with the starting nod.
After abandoning his post as the Philadelphia 76ers’ super sixth man, Lou Williams will start for the Atlanta Hawks as he returns to his home state.
Josh Smith and Al Horford will once again create a tough tandem down low for the Hawks.
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol
The Memphis Grizzlies will look to continue on their success from last season. Defensive stopper Tony Allen will maintain his spot at shooting guard despite heavy pressure from rookie Tony Wroten out of Washington.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are both threats for double-doubles every night.
Los Angeles Lakers
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Metta World Peace
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Andrew Bynum
No surprises here. The Los Angeles Lakers have one of the most decorated—and most expensive—starting fives in the NBA.
The championship window for this group is short, so the Lakers must win now if Kobe is going to get another ring.
PG: George Hill
SG: Paul George
SF: Danny Granger
PF: David West
C: Roy Hibbert
George Hill’s emergence in the 2012 postseason will go a long way toward sealing a spot for him as the Indiana Pacers’ starting point guard.
D.J. Augustin will be right there pushing him and fighting for the spot.
Elsewhere, the starters will remain the same for the Pacers, who held onto All-Star center Roy Hibbert by matching the Portland Trail Blazers’ maximum offer.
That starting five led Indiana to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and should be able to do so again in 2012-13.
Oklahoma City Thunder
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Kendrick Perkins
Like the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder will apply the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality in 2012-13.
If the Thunder start slow, however, it will be interesting to see whether Scott Brooks inserts James Harden into the starting lineup in place of Thabo Sefolosha.
To start the season, however, Harden will remain the first option off the bench.
San Antonio Spurs
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Manu Ginobili
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Boris Diaw
Because of Tim Duncan’s true—not stated to the media—desire to win, the San Antonio Spurs are able to keep their pieces in place.
The Spurs will march their No. 1 Western Conference seed lineup back onto the court next season in hopes of finding an elusive fifth title for Duncan and his generosity.
PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Richard Hamilton
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah
The biggest question mark for Chicago Bulls fans is Derrick Rose’s health. Everything else is secondary.
One thing to keep an eye on, however, is the power forward position. Carlos Boozer has shown signs he is slipping down the backside of his career, which could open the door for Taj Gibson to insert himself into the starting lineup over the course of the season.
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