NBA Starting 5's We Can't Wait to See Post-Draft and Celtics-Nets Trade
While the top teams in the NBA do their best to keep a consistent starting lineup, groups of rising and falling teams are in great flux following the 2013 NBA draft, giving us many interesting starting lineup possibilities once the season starts and players heal up.
Whether it be the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets swapping huge chunks of their teams, the New Orleans Pelicans rebranding themselves for their new name, or teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers who could look totally different in the next two weeks, there's something interesting going on with most teams in the league.
Not every team will find itself with new rookies among its starter ranks, but many teams out there will at least experiment with new lineups and daring rotations.
The best part of each new season is always seeing what fits immediately, what still needs some time to shuffle around and what looks like a complete disaster.
So, let's go ahead and take a look at which of these teams with a new identity already this season will have the most interesting starting lineups to consider once the season starts.
Honorable Mention: Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected Starting Five: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao
In all likelihood, we're going to have a top overall pick fail to make the starting lineup for his new team.
While that's not completely out of the ordinary (Andrea Bargnani only started two games in his rookie season), it is a rather odd concept.
However, what the Cavs lack in new players to their starting five, they make up for in a ridiculous ability to put together complex lineups.
While Irving and Waiters are more or less locked into their positions (although Waiters should see a bit of point guard work), Thompson, Varejao, and new draftees Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev are each capable of playing multiple positions.
Cleveland should be experimenting left and right out of the gate, so get ready for an ultra-tiny Irving-Waiters-Gee-Bennett-Thompson lineup, or the opposite with a Waiters-Karasev-Bennett-Thompson-Tyler Zeller mega-huge lineup.
Throw in 6'7" point guard Shaun Livingston if he re-signs with the team, and things are bound to get incredibly strange.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
Projected Starting Five: Point Guard X, Damien Wilkins, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel (eventually)
I won't go as far as to say the Philadelphia 76ers are going all-in for the possibility to grab Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, but they're certainly looking at last year's Andrew Bynum fiasco and setting fire to the ashes.
The only thing for sure about the 76ers on opening day is that they won't feature either Noel or Jrue Holiday in their starting lineup. Noel will be out still recovering from his torn ACL, while Holiday will be hamming it up with Anthony Davis in New Orleans.
Every other player on their roster is liable to be traded at some point, although I'd say Thaddeus Young may be relatively safe.
Evan Turner could be on the move, as he was speculated to be in deals on draft day, while everyone else is certainly expendable.
When the dust settles and the knees are rehabilitated, I can't wait to see what this team turns into, be it good or utterly disastrous.
7. Sacramento Kings
Projected Starting Five: Tyreke Evans/Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, John Salmons, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
With McLemore coming into Sacramento, it certainly seems as if Evans has become an expendable guard.
However, if they can get him for a reasonable price and install him back into the point guard spot, which he's played on-and-off throughout his career, they could have a dynamic backcourt on their hands.
Even if he does take off or get traded, McLemore next to the ultra-quick Isaiah Thomas will be fun to watch as well.
Of course, the most important pairing is McLemore alongside Cousins, who will space the floor so well for the Kings, opponents might need six defenders to properly guard them all.
Evans' restricted free agency remains an obstruction when looking to see their future, but it's pretty simple to see the outline for now.
6. Milwaukee Bucks
Projected Starting Five: Brandon Jennings/Insert PG X, Insert SG X, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders
Absolutely everything is in play for the Milwaukee Bucks' backcourt as we enter the July moratorium on player moves.
What has become the biggest accepted notion is that Monta Ellis will be on the move, although Sacramento singing Ben McLemore certainly put a question mark on his status, as he was rumored to be interested in joining the Kings, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Most interesting will be what happens to their team over the summer, but a disgruntled Jennings in the starting lineup for Milwaukee could mean the shot-chucking point guard taking 90 attempts per game.
Milwaukee's starting five could be basketball schadenfreude at its best.
5. Whatever Boston Becomes
Projected (Eventual) Starting Five: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk
The Boston Celtics dumping Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for nothing but eventual salary-cap relief and a few draft picks here and there simultaneously created two of the most interesting lineups in the NBA, only for extremely different reasons.
We would have to assume that the plan is to put a healthy lineup together that includes Sullinger and rookie Olynyk, if only to get the two of them some experience for the future.
Sure, they could put Kris Humphries or even Reggie Evans at one of the two big-man spots, but what would be the fun in that?
Not only do we have a lineup where the only "true" scorer is a sometimes passive Jeff Green, but the potential for a chucking, upset Rondo is there too.
Plus we've got Sully's vacuum-like offensive rebounding and Olynyk's soccer headband and T-Rex arms.
I have no idea how good (or bad) Boston is going to be, but I'm damn excited to see them healthy and in sync.
4. Dwight Howard's New Home
Projected Starting Five: Houston Dwight Howard, Dallas Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Clippers Dwight Howard, Atlanta Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard
No matter where he goes, Dwight Howard's new team is going to become one of the most interesting starting lineups in the league.
In order to save space and words continuing to talk about him, I've gone ahead and condensed it down to one slide here, and decided to rank the Howard starting lineups quickly all together.
Los Angeles Lakers
Howard would be the center of a Lakers offense sans Kobe Bryant. There's no way to measure how that team would do without Kobe at this point, but it would be fun to watch.
Dirk Nowitzki and Howard's spacing together would be immaculate. For that alone they would be fun to see.
Los Angeles Clippers
Howard and Chris Paul would be together, and while Blake Griffin, Eric Bledsoe and likely DeAndre Jordan would be given new homes, we're talking about Paul and Howard playing together. What could be more exciting?
Houston's up-tempo game might not click with Howard, much like it didn't in Los Angeles this year, but it would work a lot better than the Lakers just based on the fact that its core is so young. It would be the most fun team to watch on any given night.
Al Horford would be in town, and in all likelihood the Hawks would have to land Chris Paul to grab Howard as well, so as strange as it seems, Atlanta has an extremely outside shot at landing one of the league's most intriguing lineups.
3. Utah Jazz
Projected Starting Five: Mo Williams/Trey Burke, Shooting Guard X, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter
It seems as if Williams and Burke may not be able to exist on the same team together, but Utah's team gets no less interesting if Mo decides to leave.
With Randy Foye likely not the answer as the starting shooting guard, we have to assume the Jazz go in a different direction with that spot in free agency. Heck, maybe a tiny Mo Williams could fill that spot in.
Gordon Hayward is always going to be fun, while Derrick Favors can finally make a run for an All-Defensive team with some hard-earned minutes.
What remains to be seen is whether the Jazz retain either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap.
One of the two seems possible, while bringing both back seem unlikely. If they were to grab one back, he would likely start alongside Favors, otherwise we're looking at a Favors-Kanter big man combination.
Congratulations Utah, for the first time since Deron Williams left, your team is looking pretty fun.
2. New Orleans Pelicans
Projected Starting Five: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon's Replacement, Small Forward X, Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez
Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis; what more could you ask for?
Last year, Holiday proved that he's one of the most fun, dynamic point guards in the NBA, showing off a knack for hitting the open man and piling up assists on a team that was 20th in the league in field-goal percentage and 13th in three-point percentage.
Given a presence in the post with Davis, and shooters galore, Jrue could be one of the few guards in the league to average double-digit assists.
Plus, we have no idea what's going on with Eric Gordon, but the general consensus is that he'll be finding a new place to play basketball.
1. The $82 Million Lineup
Projected Starting Five: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez
What does $82 million get you? A veritable All-Star team as a starting five. Of course, that leads to no room to improve a bench beyond Jason Terry, and huge luxury tax penalties, but who cares?
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson will have the ball in their hands so much that Pierce won't take more than a few games to realize how he's been relegated to an almost unimportant member of the starting lineup.
Lopez might be the exact opposite of Garnett, both on and off the floor. The only option for those two is to become best friends and make a buddy cop movie titled The Big Comic-Con Ticket where they bust a group of dudes trying to steal Action Comics No. 1 from Comic-Con (but only after Garnett and Pierce make a movie called Truth and Consequences).
Okay, let's get back on track here.
Pierce and Garnett in new jerseys, Lopez possibly learning some defensive prowess from Garnett and Williams not possibly having anything to complain about.
Seriously, there hasn't been a lineup like this since the Lakers landed Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to add to their stock of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
I can't remember how that worked out.