Ranking Each NBA Team's Starting 5

Daniel HudsonCorrespondent IIIOctober 28, 2012

Ranking Each NBA Team's Starting 5

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    To pique your Halloween appetite for ghosts, goblins and a little NBA action, why not take a look at how your team's starting five ranks against the rest of the league?

    I want to remind you that being named the best (or worst) starting five doesn't equate to winning it all (or coming in last).

    Last year's NBA Finals featured two of the best starting fives in the league. The Miami Heat saw point guard Mario Chalmers emerge as a legitimate player, capable of running the potent Heat offense. Which players will make that step this season?

    Having a great starting five is definitely one way to make it deep into the playoffs, especially during a full-length season. Take a look!

30. Charlotte Bobcats

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    PG: Kemba Walker

    SG: Ben Gordon

    SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    PF: Bismack Biyombo

    C: Brendan Haywood

    The Charlotte Bobcats were the worst team in NBA history in 2011-2012. They're lucky it was a shortened season. I like the addition of Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft, but the starting five is still the worst.

29. Houston Rockets

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    PG: Jeremy Lin

    SG: James Harden

    SF: Chandler Parsons

    PF: Patrick Patterson

    C: Omer Asik

    Last year's aborted Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade would've brought Pau Gasol to Houston and benefited the Rockets greatly, but the late addition of Harden will bring some excitement to the team this year. Parsons also has a bright future.

28. New Orleans Hornets

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    PG: Greivis Vasquez

    SG: Eric Gordon

    SF: Al-Farouq Aminu

    PF: Ryan Anderson

    C: Anthony Davis

    Even if Gordon can get and stay healthy (quite an assumption, unfortunately), the New Orleans Hornets are still a little ways off. Vasquez and Davis will play with tremendous energy and could become a force in a few years.

27. Toronto Raptors

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    PG: Kyle Lowry

    SG: DeMar DeRozan

    SF: Landry Fields

    PF: Andrea Bargnani

    C: Jonas Valanciunas

    Lowry had a breakout season going last year with Houston until he was injured. When clicking, Lowry can be a top-10 point guard, and he will have a number of tools to work with as a Toronto Raptor.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    PG: Kyrie Irving

    SG: Alonzo Gee

    SF: C.J. Miles

    PF: Tristan Thompson

    C: Anderson Varejao

    Who doesn't like the prospects of the Cleveland Cavaliers after seeing what Irving can do? The Cavs nearly acquired Andrew Bynum this summer, but as it stands, they still have an improved starting five this year.

25. Detroit Pistons

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    PG: Brandon Knight

    SG: Rodney Stuckey

    SF: Tayshaun Prince

    PF: Jason Maxiell

    C: Greg Monroe

    I love Monroe. He's slowly becoming one of the best centers in the game, and with Knight showing flashes of brilliance last year, it's only going to get better.

    Prince is the Detroit Pistons and will most likely spend his AARP years continuing to start at small forward.

24. Washington Wizards

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    PG: John Wall

    SG: Bradley Beal

    SF: Trevor Ariza

    PF: Nene

    C: Emeka Okafor

    Wall will miss the first six to eight weeks of the Washington Wizards' season with a knee injury, something that will hurt the starting five terribly. His speed really drives the offense.

    Nene and Okafor are new faces down low (Nene played just 11 games for Washington last year after a midseason trade). If they have resurgent years, they could make the Wizards a tough out.

23. Orlando Magic

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    PG: Jameer Nelson

    SG: Arron Afflalo

    SF: Hedo Turkoglu

    PF: Glen Davis

    C: Gustavo Ayon

    There's not much to be excited about with the Orlando Magic. They got absolutely hosed in the Dwight Howard deal (Brooklyn's proposed deal was head and shoulders better) but at least added a shooter in Afflalo.

    Nelson is a bona fide point, while Turkoglu and Davis are reliable.

22. Golden State Warriors

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    PG: Stephen Curry

    SG: Klay Thompson

    SF: Harrison Barnes

    PF: David Lee

    C: Andrew Bogut

    Curry and Bogut are two of the most injury-prone players in the NBA, but if they can stay upright this year, they could blow this No. 22 ranking out of the water.

    Meanwhile, Thompson and Lee are steady contributors every night.

21. Phoenix Suns

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    PG: Goran Dragic

    SG: Shannon Brown

    SF: Michael Beasley

    PF: Luis Scola

    C: Marcin Gortat

    The 2012-2013 starting five of the Phoenix Suns has a ton of upside, but what an odd cast of characters! I'm concerned with how Beasley will fit in with workhorses like Scola and Gortat and want to see Dragic run an offense for a full season.

20. Portland Trail Blazers

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    PG: Damian Lillard

    SG: Wesley Matthews

    SF: Nicolas Batum

    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge

    C: J.J. Hickson

    Batum is gaining notoriety as a rising small forward, while Aldridge is well known for his scoring and rebounding prowess.

    The Portland Trail Blazers need rookie point guard Lillard to grow up fast if they hope to make a run at the playoffs.

19. Atlanta Hawks

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    PG: Jeff Teague

    SG: Lou Williams

    SF: Josh Smith

    PF: Al Horford

    C: Zaza Pachulia

    What do you do when you lose a great three-point shooter like Joe Johnson? You go get three more. That's what the Atlanta Hawks did with the additions of starter Williams and bench reserves Anthony Morrow and Kyle Korver.

    Teague had a breakout year in 2011, while Smith is by far the most underrated small forward in the game.

18. Dallas Mavericks

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    PG: Darren Collison

    SG: O.J. Mayo

    SF: Shawn Marion

    PF: Dirk Nowitzki

    C: Chris Kaman

    Only in the NBA can you bust up 60 percent of your starting lineup and no one notice. The Dallas Mavericks return only Nowitzki and Marion to this year's five, but they filled the rest in with quality talent.

    Mayo has great potential, and a scenery change from Memphis could give him a boost.

17. Sacramento Kings

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    PG: Isaiah Thomas

    SG: Marcus Thornton

    SF: Tyreke Evans

    PF: Jason Thompson

    C: DeMarcus Cousins

    If the Sacramento Kings could add a solid power forward, they'd immediately contend for a playoff spot in the West.

    Thomas showed his ability to coordinate the offense, while Cousins has turned into one of the most ferocious rebounders in the game.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    PG: Ricky Rubio

    SG: Brandon Roy

    SF: Andrei Kirilenko

    PF: Kevin Love

    C: Nikola Pekovic

    I'm fully aware that Rubio and Love have significant injuries, but once they all get back in the starting five around February, they'll be a stout combo.

    Anything that Roy can add will be a bonus, and Pekovic posted strong stats at the end of last season.

15. Milwaukee Bucks

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    PG: Brandon Jennings

    SG: Monta Ellis

    SF: Mike Dunleavy

    PF: Ersan Ilyasova

    C: Samuel Dalembert

    This is my new second-favorite team. The high-energy play of Jennings, Ellis and Ilyasova is going to make the Milwaukee Bucks a threat to sneak into the Eastern playoffs.

    There, they'll be one of "those teams" that no one wants to face in the summer.

14. Memphis Grizzlies

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    PG: Mike Conley

    SG: Tony Allen

    SF: Rudy Gay

    PF: Zach Randolph

    C: Marc Gasol

    The Memphis Grizzlies refuse to make room for a three-point shooter in the starting lineup. But what they lack in shooting, they make up in defense with Allen, an NBA All-Defensive first-teamer.

    Gay, Randolph and Gasol need to show they can coexist.

13. Boston Celtics

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    PG: Rajon Rondo

    SG: Avery Bradley

    SF: Paul Pierce

    PF: Brandon Bass

    C: Kevin Garnett

    The aging Boston Celtics should be able to squeeze another year out of Pierce and Garnett, and if they hold on to Rondo, they'll be right where they always are at the end of the year.

    Bradley will start the season injured, but similar 2-guards like Courtney Lee and Jason Terry will fill in.

12. Chicago Bulls

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    PG: Derrick Rose

    SG: Richard Hamilton

    SF: Luol Deng

    PF: Carlos Boozer

    C: Joakim Noah

    This isn't an elite starting five, but the Chicago Bulls are the best-coached team in the league.

    Rose would do well to take his time and use the tools he has at his disposal, but even if he doesn't, this starting five's tenacious D is nearly impossible to penetrate.

11. New York Knicks

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    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: J.R. Smith

    SF: Carmelo Anthony

    PF: Amar'e Stoudemire

    C: Tyson Chandler

    The last time Felton was a New York Knick, he erupted with 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

    The points and assists totals will likely drop with Anthony playing in Madison Square Garden, but Felton remains the X-factor here.

10. Utah Jazz

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    PG: Mo Williams

    SG: Gordon Hayward

    SF: Marvin Williams

    PF: Paul Millsap

    C: Al Jefferson

    The Utah Jazz are strong, talented and well coached. They lacked a point guard to pull it together last year, but they have one now with Mo Williams.

    Hayward emerged as a great all-around player last year, while Millsap and Jefferson comprise one of the best frontcourts in the NBA.

9. Indiana Pacers

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    PG: George Hill

    SG: Paul George

    SF: Danny Granger

    PF: David West

    C: Roy Hibbert

    With talent at every single position, the Indiana Pacers might be one of the hardest teams to defend in 2012-2013. Hibbert continues to climb the center ranks, while George is a future superstar.

    Don't forget about Granger, who is just a couple years removed from being one of the best small forwards in the game.

8. Philadelphia 76ers

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    PG: Jrue Holiday

    SG: Jason Richardson

    SF: Evan Turner

    PF: Spencer Hawes

    C: Andrew Bynum

    The acquisition of Bynum has made the Philadelphia 76ers a legitimate contender for the Eastern Conference Finals. Holiday is already becoming one of the game's great young point guards, and a big man down low will only help.

    Head coach Doug Collins can run a stable of small forwards at you near the end of games too.

7. Denver Nuggets

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    PG: Ty Lawson

    SG: Andre Iguodala

    SF: Danilo Gallinari

    PF: Kenneth Faried

    C: Kosta Koufos

    It seems like the Denver Nuggets have been able to go 10 players deep ever since the Carmelo Anthony deal. Lawson might be the fastest player in the game today, while Faried and Koufos make up a very athletic big man duo.

    Having perhaps the best non-point distributor in Iguodala doesn't hurt either.

6. San Antonio Spurs

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    PG: Tony Parker

    SG: Danny Green

    SF: Kawhi Leonard

    PF: Boris Diaw

    C: Tim Duncan

    They're not fun. They're not sexy. They just win. At 35, Manu Ginobili is officially a sixth man now, but Green made that transition less painful with a great season last year.

    But you already know the cast of characters. It's the San Antonio Spurs!

5. Los Angeles Lakers

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    PG: Steve Nash

    SG: Kobe Bryant

    SF: Metta World Peace

    PF: Pau Gasol

    C: Dwight Howard

    Next year, I fully expect the Los Angeles Lakers to be in the top three of this list, but it takes time for big additions to mix in. Just look at the Miami Heat (or 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, for that matter).

    With more weapons than ever, the Lakers will be a scary starting five.

4. Brooklyn Nets

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    PG: Deron Williams

    SG: Joe Johnson

    SF: Gerald Wallace

    PF: Kris Humphries

    C: Brook Lopez

    I'm high on the Brooklyn Nets. They have a great combination of power and speed, scoring and rebounding, youth and experience.

    Humphries is an extremely underrated forward, as is his counterpart Lopez. Williams gets my vote as the best point guard in the league and will use newcomers Johnson and Wallace effectively.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

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    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: Chauncey Billups

    SF: Caron Butler

    PF: Blake Griffin

    C: DeAndre Jordan

    Last year, the Los Angeles Clippers were good. This year, they'll be great.

    Billups returns from injury, while Paul is now comfortable with Griffin and Jordan, though I'll admit their alley-oops looked pretty comfy last season.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    PG: Russell Westbrook

    SG: Thabo Sefolosha

    SF: Kevin Durant

    PF: Serge Ibaka

    C: Kendrick Perkins

    We already knew that Westbrook and Durant were great, but the explosion of Ibaka has given the Oklahoma City Thunder the top starting five in the West.

    Westbrook gets scolded for inconsistency, but when he's on, he's one of the best. I have a gut feeling that he'll put it together for an entire season and win the MVP in the near future.

    The trade of James Harden was a bit rushed, don't you think?

1. Miami Heat

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    PG: Mario Chalmers

    SG: Dwyane Wade

    SF: LeBron James

    PF: Shane Battier

    C: Chris Bosh

    A starting five needs to be strong from top to bottom. Chalmers' emergence as a reliable point guard has made the Miami Heat the unquestioned top starting five. (They already held the title for top starting three.)

    I believe the Heat will three-peat as Eastern Conference champions and then win the NBA Finals for a second straight year.