Ranking NBA's Best 5-Man Units

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Ranking NBA's Best 5-Man Units
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

What makes a good five-man lineup?

Don't worry about the construction of the quintet or the balance between offense and defense. Forget about whether it's better to have five solid players or two stars and three below-average role players. 

This is all about one thing—outscoring the opposition. 

No matter how it's done, winning games is the ultimate goal. And the only way to do so is by scoring more points than the other team, whether that's accomplished through dominant offense or suffocating defense. 

In order to determine the league's best five-man lineups, I'm looking solely at net points per 100 possessions. That subtracts points allowed from points scored, so the difference—which takes pace and minutes played out of the equation—shows just how much better than the average opponent a lineup has been during the 2013-14 season. 

As a qualifier, though, lineups must have spent 250 minutes or more on the court together this year. Otherwise, small sample size can rear its ugly head. 

For example, the Milwaukee Bucks' five-man group of John Henson, Khris Middleton, Gary Neal, Zaza Pachulia and Nate Wolters has outscored the opposition by 44.5 points per 100 possession. Problem is, they've spent under 22 minutes on the court together, meaning that's probably more the result of small sample size than anything else. 

Does anyone think that group is one of the best units in the NBA? If it qualified, it would rank No. 1 by a gigantic margin. 

So, looking at only the groups that have hit the 250-minute barrier at this stage of the season, let's figure out who's the best of the bunch. 


Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference and are current as of Feb. 26.

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