Projected Starting Lineups for Every NBA Team Headed into the 2013-14 Season
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With NBA training camps on the horizon and a thrilling period of player movement over, it's time to evaluate each team's projected starting five for the coming season.
From a revamped Brooklyn Nets squad to a dismantled group in Philadelphia, units across the Association underwent a myriad of changes this summer as short- and long-term plans are locked into place.
While there will undoubtedly be a few tweaks to lineups throughout the year due to various returns from injury, these projections were determined solely with opening day in mind.
PG: Jeff Teague
SG: John Jenkins
SF: Kyle Korver
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Al Horford
The Atlanta Hawks look like nothing more than a middle-of-the-road playoff team in 2013-14.
While powers like the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets improved to strengthen a top-heavy Eastern Conference, the Hawks made a few under-the-radar moves that will keep them competitive, likely as a No. 6 seed this season.
Danny Ferry made the brilliant decision to sign Paul Millsap at two years and $19 million as a replacement for Josh Smith, and he did well to re-sign Jeff Teague instead of pursuing an inefficient Brandon Jennings.
Question marks remain at shooting guard, where sniper John Jenkins is currently slotted in as the starter. It appears things will stay that way for the foreseeable future, according to HoopsWorld's Lang Greene on Twitter, who notes that Lou Williams will come off the bench once his rehabilitation from a torn ACL is complete.
PG: Avery Bradley (until Rajon Rondo returns)
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kris Humphries
The rebuilding process is well underway for the Boston Celtics, whose starting lineup is unrecognizable when compared to last season's solid five-man unit.
Elsewhere, the newly acquired Kris Humphries is in line to receive plenty of minutes at center in an undersized and underwhelming frontcourt that will feature a platoon of Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger at power forward.
Jeff Green is one of the few stable pieces of the Celtics lineup fans can look forward to this season. He'll be given every opportunity to carry the scoring load a year after averaging 12.8 points per game.
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Brook Lopez
After trading for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Brooklyn Nets quickly became the most intriguing case study in the NBA.
Based on the recent superteams we've seen assembled, will this group be able to buck some disturbing trends?
What lies ahead is unknown, mostly because superteams take a while to properly jell. It remains to be seen how Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce mesh. At this point in their respective careers, Johnson and Pierce have similar and, quite frankly, redundant skill sets. Jason Kidd would do well to consider slotting in the more versatile Andrei Kirilenko at the 3.
Kevin Garnett will help fortify a defense that allowed 106.2 points per 100 possessions last season, per Basketball-Reference, and the continued improvement of Brook Lopez offensively should help provide the Nets' frontcourt with a sleek new look.
Brooklyn will need to use size and strength to its advantage if it wants to enter the elite conversation, but all five All-Star-caliber pieces will need to click for the Nets to win an Eastern Conference title.
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Gerald Henderson
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF: Cody Zeller
C: Al Jefferson
The Charlotte Bobcats were in need of an offensive lift this offseason, so it should come as no surprise that they snagged the gifted Al Jefferson and a promising Cody Zeller this summer.
And while it's a positive sign that the Bobcats are serious about improving in both the short and long term, there are still glaring defensive holes on Steve Clifford's squad. Jefferson is an absolute defensive liability, and it remains unclear how NBA-ready Zeller is at this point.
Fortunately, the Bobcats offense should be much-improved this season with Kemba Walker once again leading the attack. Instead of having to carry the load all by himself, Walker will now have a high-low partner in Jefferson who is capable of scoring 20 points on any given night.
PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Jimmy Butler
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah
With Derrick Rose back in the starting lineup, the Chicago Bulls are the biggest threat to dethrone the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
After last season's Eastern Conference Semifinals, we know the Bulls can get under Miami's skin and lock the Heat up defensively for stretches. The return of Rose provides the guaranteed 20-point-per-night scorer Tom Thibodeau sorely needs to push the defending champs to the limit.
Jimmy Butler's continued development is a secondary storyline to Rose's return, but the 23-year-old defensive maven will be a difference-maker come playoff time.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Dion Waiters
SF: Earl Clark
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Andrew Bynum
When projecting the NBA's most improved teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be in the discussion. With a superstar in Kyrie Irving and a refurbished starting five, the Cavs should be in the thick of the playoff chase come March and April.
The big topic of conversation surrounding the Cavs will be the condition of Andrew Bynum's knees. If Bynum can play in just two-thirds of Cleveland's games and provide productive minutes like the Bynum of old, the Cavs will have a steal on their hands.
And even if he doesn't, the risk was mitigated by the fact that Cleveland is only on the hook for $6 million guaranteed.
Regardless of who starts at center, attention should gravitate towards forward Tristan Thompson, who's primed for a monster season. Ready to explode in Year 3, Thompson should be on national radars before the New Year.
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Samuel Dalembert
A year after playing with a roster that was pieced together with tape, the Dallas Mavericks have reloaded in an attempt to make the playoffs again.
But can these pieces do the trick?
Jose Calderon is a significant upgrade at point guard over Darren Collison from a passing and game management standpoint. He should help Rick Carlisle's offense flow nicely from Day 1. The real questions emerge when discussing Monta Ellis and his fit in the backcourt.
Dallas essentially swapped O.J. Mayo for Ellis, which looks like nothing more than a lateral move. Ellis has undeniable talents when it comes to scoring the ball, but his judgment and shot selection are often clouded by his desire to simply get buckets.
The hope is that Ellis will play in a more controlled fashion now that he's playing second fiddle to Dirk Nowitzki, but his inefficient 41.6 percent shooting from the field last season is a cause for concern.
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Randy Foye
SF: Wilson Chandler (until Danilo Gallinari returns)
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: JaVale McGee
The Denver Nuggets are going to get out and run plenty. Creating offense won't be a problem. With athletic freaks Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee in the fold, that much is certain.
Where things become far less certain is on the defensive end, as the Nuggets will have to prove that they can overcome the loss of Andre Iguodala.
One silver lining is that McGee is now thrust into a starting role at center. He will hopefully provide defensive stability in the form of shot alterations and a plethora of blocks, much the way Larry Sanders has in Milwaukee.
Still, McGee's presence can only relieve the Nuggets' wing defenders to a certain extent, so it will be up to Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler and Co. to take the reins and prove that they're still worthy Western Conference contenders.
PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe
C: Andre Drummond
As far as entertainment value and intrigue are concerned, the Detroit Pistons will be near the top of the list to start the season. With enigmas like Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, Detroit will be appointment viewing for League Pass subscribers.
It's been mentioned in this space before, but it will be extremely interesting to see how Maurice Cheeks decides to run his offense; the offensive tendencies of Josh Smith and Greg Monroe are redundant to an extent.
And aside from a crowded frontcourt, the Pistons will need to find ways to put Brandon Jennings in the position to make smart, calculated plays, if he proves capable of doing so. If he keeps shooting in line with his career mark of 39.4 percent, fans in Detroit will grow restless of Jennings' antics rather quickly.
Golden State Warriors
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: David Lee
C: Andrew Bogut
There were few offseason lineup alterations as exciting as the Golden State Warriors' acquisition of Andre Iguodala. When a team with offensive firepower like the Dubs adds an elite perimeter defender, watch out.
Iguodala's arrival bumps Harrison Barnes into a role as the team's sixth man, but that's one in which he can thrive. As a point of reference, last year's sixth man Jarrett Jack played 29.7 minutes per game, which would represent a 4.3-minute-per-game bump for Barnes. There will be plenty of opportunities for Barnes to shine, and if he builds on last season's success, he could be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year honors.
If Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut can stay healthy (a huge if), the Warriors will be primed to crack the West's top five.
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: James Harden
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Greg Smith
The Houston Rockets' frontcourt will look rather different than it did on opening day last season.
Scoring Dwight Howard means Omer Asik has been relegated to a bench role, although it should be noted that general manager Daryl Morey said on Reddit that the Rockets will experiment with Howard at the 4 and Asik at the 5.
Whether that pairing winds up being a starting one remains to be seen.
For now, Greg Smith projects as Houston's starting power forward after playing 15.9 productive minutes per game last season, averaging six points and 4.6 rebounds en route to a PER of 16.1, per Basketball-Reference.
Things remain the same 1-3, as Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Chandler Parsons gear up to create more fireworks in their second year together under Kevin McHale.
PG: George Hill
SG: Danny Granger
SF: Paul George
PF: David West
C: Roy Hibbert
Danny Granger's return highlights the biggest change to Frank Vogel's feisty starting five. And considering the Indiana Pacers ranked 23rd in nightly scoring and 22nd in three-point percentage last season, Granger should provide a boost to a group that could stand to add more shooters.
However, as many are aware, offense is a secondary concern for the Pacers, who eat opponents alive with suffocating defense led by their fearsome interior tandem of David West and Roy Hibbert.
After falling one game short of capturing an Eastern Conference title, expect the Pacers' attitude to get even nastier in the months ahead.
Los Angeles Clippers
PG: Chris Paul
SG: J.J. Redick
SF: Jared Dudley
PF: Blake Griffin
C: DeAndre Jordan
Buzz surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers is justified by the fact that Doc Rivers' squad will now be able to stretch the floor in ways they previously could not. Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick give the Clips a trustworthy duo on the perimeter, one that should help open up a bit more space for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to operate.
However, there's one major question surrounding the Clippers and center DeAndre Jordan, in particular.
Jordan's production on both ends of the floor has not been worthy of the big dollars L.A. bestowed upon him. In order to compete with the big boys like the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets, the Clippers will need Jordan to step up and provide an edge in the middle.
According to NBA.com's stats database, the Clippers were 6.3 points better per 100 possessions defensively when Jordan was off the floor last season. Offensively, Jordan's limitations are well-documented. Aside from lobs and second-chance opportunities, Jordan is a liability.
It's a lot to ask from a player whose athleticism is his best quality, but Jordan's fundamental execution needs to improve in order to for the Clippers to be considered legitimate title contenders.
Los Angeles Lakers
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Nick Young
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Chris Kaman
Interesting is one way to categorize the Los Angeles Lakers' new-look starting lineup.
Intense focus will be on Kobe Bryant and his recovery from a brutal Achilles injury, but don't dismiss Pau Gasol as a player primed for a resurgence in 2013.
Gasol is coming off a season in which he had trouble getting into a groove because of Mike D'Antoni's mismanagement of his role. With Dwight Howard out of the picture, expect the Spaniard to improve on his career-worst 13.7 point-per-game average from last season.
Two other names to watch will be free-agent signees Nick Young and Chris Kaman, each of whom are primed for significant roles on a team that is sorely lacking depth.
Young frustrates in spades on both ends of the floor, so his dismissal from the starting lineup at some point before Christmas wouldn't be a major surprise.
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol
On paper, the Memphis Grizzlies' lineup looks rather vanilla. There are no flashy playmakers in a conventional sense.
But all of the pieces they've assembled mesh beautifully together.
Marc Gasol may not be considered a dynamic playmaker, but if you watched him for extended time last season, you're aware that such a sentiment is positively wrong.
Gasol is the glue that holds the Grizzlies offense and defense together. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has the chops to receive First-Team All-NBA honors should he thrive in similar ways this season.
Aside from Gasol, eyes will be on point guard Mike Conley, whose coming-out party at the age of 25 surprised many in the basketball community. With undisputed control of the Grizzlies' offensive flow, expect Conley to build on last year's success and make a run at his first career All-Star bid.
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Udonis Haslem
C: Chris Bosh
The Miami Heat lineup that played 687 minutes together (the most of any Miami five-man unit) returns intact to start the 2013-14 season.
While this starting unit was plus-12.1 points in scoring margin, per Basketball-Reference, the more notable numbers were margins of plus-5.5 assists, plus-3.3 steals and plus-2.5 blocks against all opponents.
Although Erik Spoelstra's starting five rarely, if ever, closes out games, they provide the stability necessary to give the Heat early leads and sustain them as the second half gets underway.
Considering the Heat often choose to go small as games wear on, expect Haslem's role to be diminished as Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen find their way into a multitude of different lineup pairings.
PG: Brandon Knight
SG: O.J. Mayo
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Ersan Ilyasova
C: Larry Sanders
It's unclear which direction the Milwaukee Bucks are headed in, mainly because their starting lineup is a jumbled mess.
Larry Drew's starting unit doesn't look significantly improved from last year's edition. Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings swapped starting gigs in Detroit and Milwaukee, and O.J. Mayo will take over in Monta Ellis' old role as primary scoring option at the 2.
The real question surrounding Mayo's production will be efficiency, for that's one quality Ellis lacked. Mayo showed improved efficiency from three last season (40.7 percent shooting), but his PER bottomed out at 13.9, the second-lowest mark of his career, per Basketball-Reference.
Wisconsin native Caron Butler will also make his Milwaukee debut this season, but at 33 years old, he has virtually no upside to offer a Bucks squad that's lacking direction.
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Chase Budinger
PF: Kevin Love
C: Nikola Pekovic
"Refurbished" would be an accurate way to describe the Minnesota Timberwolves' projected starting five for the upcoming season.
With three key bodies—Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Chase Budinger—fully recovered from debilitating injuries, the T'Wolves' offense will pack a serious punch should they remain healthy.
Love is the league's premier power forward and the cornerstone of Minnesota's attack, but don't sleep on Nikola Pekovic, who recently re-signed for five years and $60 million.
The Timberwolves' other notable offseason move was picking up gunner Kevin Martin, who will provide much-needed stability and firepower from three-point range.
Minnesota was the NBA's worst three-point shooting team last season, so Martin's addition should be celebrated as the Timberwolves seek to craft a more diversified offense.
New Orleans Pelicans
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Tyreke Evans
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Anthony Davis
One of the most drastic overhauls to a starting five this offseason took place in New Orleans, where the new-look Pelicans now boast a trio of talented young scorers.
That designation as a successful trinity, however, is dependent on Eric Gordon's health, which has been anything but a sure thing the past two seasons.
Even if Gordon isn't back to 100 percent, the Pelicans have Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. And with Ryan Anderson getting a presumed bump into the starting unit, the Pelicans will boast a diversified perimeter attack they couldn't have dreamed of last season.
Mix in Anthony Davis' elite shot-blocking capabilities and plenty of presumed growth in Year 2, and the Pelicans are looking like they'll threaten to steal a playoff spot out West.
New York Knicks
PG: Raymond Felton
SG: Iman Shumpert
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Andrea Bargnani
The New York Knicks' starting lineup is by no means set in stone, so take this as one interpretation of what Mike Woodson could roll out on opening day.
Andrea Bargnani's arrival gives the Knicks another floor-stretching presence (if he can regain pre-2010 form from three), and his implementation into the starting lineup would mean Carmelo Anthony sliding back to the 3.
However, New York can go a number of ways, many of which include keeping Anthony at the 4.
For instance, Woodson could start two point guards, as he did many times last season with Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. In this scenario, Pablo Prigioni would slot in at the 2 with Shumpert and Anthony each sliding down a spot in the lineup.
Oklahoma City Thunder
SG: Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Kendrick Perkins
Western Conference title contenders, beware.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have you in their sights.
One season removed from a disappointing second-round playoff exit, the Thunder return the same starting five, one that boasts two of the league's top 10 players.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are proven commodities, so the tall task for Scott Brooks will be finding bench scoring. Kevin Martin now resides in Minnesota, and the Thunder are left without a proven sixth man.
Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb will be counted upon to carry OKC's second unit from a scoring standpoint, but after what we saw from Jackson in the postseason, the reserves should be in good hands. Lamb is the bigger question mark. The Thunder will look to the second-year man as a floor-stretcher extraordinaire with his nearly endless range.
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: Glen Davis
C: Nikola Vucevic
Check out the Orlando Magic's projected starting five, and you'll see one glaring omission. That would be rookie Victor Oladipo, the preseason favorite to take home Rookie of the Year hardware.
Oladipo will undoubtedly make his way into Jacque Vaughn's starting lineup sooner rather than later, but it's hard to find a spot for him ahead of veterans Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo at this stage.
Oladipo will see plenty of playing time and has all of the qualities to be a dynamic spark plug off the bench, so his adjustment to the pro game shouldn't be as harsh as other rookies.
The absence of Moe Harkless is also notable, but playing Tobias Harris as an undersized 6'8'' power forward for significant minutes with Harkless at the 3 isn't a feasible option at this stage in each player's development.
While Glen Davis likely won't finish the season as the starter at the 4, he should start it as such if healthy.
PG: Michael Carter-Williams
SG: Evan Turner
SF: Thaddeus Young
PF: Arnett Moultrie
C: Spencer Hawes
The Philadelphia 76ers have finally escaped the cycle of perpetual mediocrity. So instead of being a middling Eastern Conference also-ran, the Sixers enter 2013-14 heavy favorites to finish with the league's worst record.
The good news is that management and fans seem to be in agreement that this is the best course of action for a team that desperately needed change from top to bottom. Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young are the only notable returning starters, and Spencer Hawes only finds himself starting due to Nerlens Noel's continuing rehab.
Michael Carter-Williams will assume starting point guard duties in place of Jrue Holiday, but he must put significant work into his jump shot if developing as a reliable offensive option.
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Eric Bledsoe
SF: Gerald Green
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Marcin Gortat
With new jerseys and a new marquee player, the Phoenix Suns will be a fascinating squad to watch this season.
Eric Bledsoe enters the fold a relative unknown, as he's never played more than 23 minutes a game in a single season over the first three years of his career. What we do know is that Bledsoe has enormous upside and all of the tools to be a bona fide superstar on a team that desperately needs one.
Paired with Goran Dragic in the backcourt, it will be interesting to see if the two can establish a rapport that enhances the Suns' long-term prospects.
Portland Trail Blazers
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Wes Matthews
SF: Nicolas Batum
C: Robin Lopez
The significant changes made to the Portland Trail Blazers' roster this summer will impact their second unit more than their starting one, and that's just fine.
After carrying the load last season, Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge could use a few more breathers, and hopefully the additions of Dorell Wright, C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson and Mo Williams will do that.
At center, the projected starter for Portland is Robin Lopez, who's coming off the best season of his career. He averaged 11.6 points, 1.6 blocks and 5.6 rebounds per game. He's a more reliable defensive body than J.J. Hickson, and the Blazers are trending in the right direction from a personnel standpoint.
PG: Greivis Vasquez
SG: Ben McLemore
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
PF: Carl Landry
The Sacramento Kings will welcome three new starters to their lineup next season, including old and new faces.
In the old face, new place department, Carl Landry will rejoin the Kings after stints with the New Orleans Hornets and Golden State Warriors. This time, however, Landry figures to have the starting power forward responsibilities all by himself.
Then there's Greivis Vasquez, the passing dynamo who was booted out of New Orleans by Jrue Holiday. Coming off a season in which he led the NBA in total assists, the Kings did well to upgrade significantly at the point from a distributive perspective.
As for new faces, Ben McLemore looks like he'll be the starter at the 2. The University of Kansas product will take a few years to round into peak form, but he possesses the fluid shooting stroke and athletic credentials necessary to be an impact player.
San Antonio Spurs
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter
No big changes here, and why would there be after the San Antonio Spurs ran roughshod over opponents en route to a Western Conference title last season?
According to Basketball-Reference, this year's projected starting lineup was plus-19 points in the scoring column and plus-10.7 in defensive rebounding margin over 362 minutes played.
After Danny Green's red-hot postseason from three-point range, there will be a significant focus on the Spurs' proficiency from beyond the arc. Considering the success this group had last season (plus-.117 percent from three) shooting and defending the three, they should be in line for plenty of more success in the year ahead.
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Jonas Valanciunas
Ambiguity surrounds this year's Toronto Raptors squad. With an odd mix of pieces, it's tough to get a grip on just where the Raptors stand in the Eastern Conference.
2013-14 will be Rudy Gay's first complete season North of the border, and the hope is that he will be able to produce at a more efficient clip after having laser surgery to correct his vision. With Dwane Casey's bunch sorely in need of a go-to scoring presence, Gay will be given every opportunity to assume such a role.
The other key body to keep an eye on is 21-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas, who will continue starting at center after a handful of encouraging performances last season.
With the scoring prowess and toughness necessary to be the team's starting big man long-term, look for Valanciunas' averages to skyrocket during his sophomore campaign.
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Alec Burks
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Enes Kanter
A transition year lies ahead for the Utah Jazz. All five of Utah's projected starters are 23 years or younger, which will make for a season full of sloppy performances and gradual growth.
Patience will need to be exercised in a big way, but the potential of a frontcourt comprised of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter is undeniable. The Jazz have a rather high ceiling, but it's going to take some time before all of the parts fit together.
Eyes will also be on Trey Burke during his rookie season, as he's considered one of the favorites to win the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year award.
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Otto Porter
PF: Nene Hilario
C: Emeka Okafor
Only one new name infiltrates the Washington Wizards' projected starting lineup, and it's rookie Otto Porter.
The 6'9'' specimen out of Georgetown is a surefire bet to be a significant upgrade over incumbent starter Trevor Ariza on both offense and defense. Although Porter will have a hard time matching his freshman mark of 42.2 percent shooting from three, he has the range and skill set necessary to play in a complementary role alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall.
Speaking of Wall, Year 4 of his tenure in Washington will be the most pressure-filled yet. With a legitimate shot at leading the Wizards back to the playoffs, all eyes will be on the 23-year-old.