NBA Power Rankings: Counting Down the Top 20 Starting Fives in NBA History
Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been plenty of teams who are so stacked that they make fans wonder how so many great players wound up on the same squad.
You can look up and down the teams' starting lineups, but you won't find a weakness.
A stud at point guard, a scoring machine at 2-guard, two unstoppable forwards and a center who dominates the paint.
The teams have so much talent that it's almost unfair.
But which squads have rolled out the most ridiculous starting fives in league history?
Let's take a look at the top 20 starting lineups the league has ever seen.
20. 1997-98 Utah Jazz
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PG: John Stockton—12 points, 8.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals
One of the best point guards to ever play the game, and one of the more fun ones to watch, too.
SG: Jeff Hornacek—14.2 points, 4.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals
Hornacek and Stockton? What a backcourt.
SF: Adam Keefe—7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists
I'll be honest—I really don't remember this guy.
PF: Karl Malone—27 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals
"The Mailman" always delivers.
C: Greg Foster—5.7 points, 3.5 rebounds
Center wasn't exactly the strongest position on this Jazz team.
19. 1995-96 Houston Rockets
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PG: Kenny Smith—8.5 points, 3.6 assists
Before he was gracing our TV screens, Smith was a pretty good NBA point guard.
SG: Clyde Drexler—19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2 steals
Drexler would give you 20-5-5 night in and night out.
SF: Robert Horry—12 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.5 blocks
"Big Shot Rob" did more than just shoot the rock.
PF: Chucky Brown—8.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists
The least known of the group, but a solid contributor nonetheless.
C: Hakeem Olajuwon—26.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.9 blocks, 1.6 steals
"The Dream" dominated on both ends of the court like not many centers have.
18. 1995-96 Seattle SuperSonics
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PG: Gary Payton—19.3 points, 7.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 steals
Not only was Payton a great distributor and scorer, but he was a menace on the defensive end as well.
SG: Hersey Hawkins—15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals
I nominate Hawkins to be under consideration for having one of the greatest names in NBA history.
SF: Detlef Schrempf—17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists
The same goes for Schrempf.
PF: Shawn Kemp—19.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.2 steals
Anyone have any idea what Kemp's up to these days?
C: Sam Perkins—11.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 steal
Apparently Kemp was selfish and took all the rebounds away from Perkins.
17. 1994-95 Orlando Magic
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PG: Penny Hardaway—20.9 points, 7.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals
You're lying if you say you've never owned a pair of Penny Hardaways.
SG: Dennis Scott—12.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists
He was deadly from beyond the arc this season, shooting .426 from downtown.
SF: Nick Anderson—15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.6 steals
An underrated player who got lost in the shadows of Hardaway, Grant and O'Neal.
PF: Horace Grant—12.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1 steal
The man with the goofy glasses, Grant was a key contributor to Orlando's success.
C: Shaquille O'Neal—29.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.4 blocks
One word describes Shaq: dominant.
16. 2008-09 Phoenix Suns
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
PG: Steve Nash—15.7 points, 9.7 assists, 3 rebounds
A former two-time MVP and one of the greatest point guards of all time.
SG: Jason Richardson—16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals
This team was a lot better on paper than it was in person.
SF: Grant Hill—12 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals
If Nash, Hill and Shaq were a bit younger, the Suns would have been insanely good.
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire—21.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.1 blocks
Amar'e at the 4 and Shaq at the 5? Sounds damn near unstoppable.
C: Shaquille O'Neal—17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks
"The Big Shaqtus" wasn't in the desert long enough for Phoenix to have much success.
15. 2009-10 L.A. Lakers
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
PG: Derek Fisher—7.5 points, 2.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals
Stats don't really cover Fisher's contributions to the Lakers.
SG: Kobe Bryant—27 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.5 steals
The second-greatest shooting guard of all time.
SF: Ron Artest—11 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.4 steals
A defender first and foremost, Artest helped L.A. win a title in his first season as a Laker.
PF: Pau Gasol—18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.7 blocks
I still can't get over that Kwame Brown trade. Seriously, Memphis?
C: Andrew Bynum—15 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 57.0 field-goal percentage
When Bynum's playing well, the Lakers are the toughest team to defend inside the paint.
14. 2010-11 Miami Heat
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PG: Carlos Arroyo—5.6 points, 2 assists, 1.6 rebounds
Who would have ever expected to see Arroyo on this list?
SG: Dwyane Wade—25.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals
Outside of Kobe Bryant, the league's most un-guardable shooting guard.
SF: LeBron James—26.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.6 steals
Like him or not, he's the most complete player in the NBA.
PF: Chris Bosh—19.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Not bad for a third option, huh?
C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas—5.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1 block
I had to put some center here, right?
13. 1967-68 Philadelphia 76ers
PG: Wali Jones—12.8 points, 3.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds
Not really a true point guard, but this is where we'll slot him.
SG: Hal Greer—24 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists
A guard-forward 'tweener who, as you can tell, contributed in multiple areas.
SF: Chet Walker—17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists
He was a hell of a player, even though he was the team's third option at best.
PF: Billy Cunningham—18.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists
There weren't many rebounds to go around when playing this team.
C: Wilt Chamberlain—24.3 points, 23.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists
Are those numbers even serious? That's insane.
12. 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
PG: Maurice Cheeks—12.5 points, 6.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 steals
Without a doubt, Cheeks was a much better player than coach.
SG: Andrew Toney—19.7 points, 4.5 assists, 2.8 rebounds
Not to be confused with boxer James Toney.
SF: Julius Erving—21.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.6 steals
"Dr. J" is synonymous with the 76ers.
PF: Marc Iavaroni—5.1 points, 4.1 rebounds
He really kills Philadelphia's chances of being higher on this list.
C: Moses Malone—24.5 points, 15.3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1.1 steals
This guy could have parted the Red Sea.
11. 1991-92 Detroit Pistons
PG: Isiah Thomas—18.5 points, 7.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals
One of those guys whose playing career has been overshadowed by a less-than-stellar post-NBA career.
SG: Joe Dumars—19.9 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals
Another one of Detroit's "Bad Boys," he's still with the Pistons as the President of Basketball Operations.
SF: Orlando Woolridge—14 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists
The forgotten piece to the Pistons' success in the early '90s.
PF: Dennis Rodman—9.8 points, 18.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists
18.7 rebounds? I guess those were his pre-wedding dress days.
C: Bill Laimbeer—9.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2 assists
After his playing days were over, Laimbeer wound up as the coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock, but is now an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
10. 1989-90 Portland Trail Blazers
Ken Levine/Getty Images
PG: Terry Porter—17.6 points, 9.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals
Those stats look quite similar to one of the best point guards' in the game today, Chris Paul.
SG: Clyde Drexler—23.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2 steals
"The Glide" was more than just a dunker.
SF: Jerome Kersey—16 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals
Hard to imagine how all these guys could be guarded.
PF: Buck Williams—13.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 54.8 field-goal percentage
Portland had to lead the league in rebounding this year, right?
C: Kevin Duckworth—16.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists
So Portland's center averaged fewer rebounds than three other starters? That's weird.
9. 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs
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PG: Tony Parker—15.5 points, 5.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals
This was just Parker's second NBA season, but it was the one that really put him on the map, as he helped lead the Spurs to an NBA title.
SG: Stephen Jackson—11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 steals
Parker and Jackson? I'll take that backcourt any day, as long as Jackson's head's on straight.
By the way, the Spurs had Manu Ginobili as the backup 2-guard.
SF: Bruce Bowen—7.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals
Primarily used for two purposes: shooting threes and playing defense.
PF: Tim Duncan—23.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.9 blocks
Though he may be as exciting as vanilla ice cream, he also may be the greatest power forward of all time.
C: David Robinson—8.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks
I definitely approve of any team that has Duncan lining up next to "The Admiral."
8. 1973-74 New York Knicks
PG: Walt Frazier—20.5 points, 6.9 assists, 6.7 rebounds, 2 steals
Frazier played a whopping 41.7 minutes per game and shot .472 from the field.
SG: Earl Monroe—14 points, 3 rebounds, 2.7 assists
Monroe included, every starter for this squad is a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.
SF: Bill Bradley—14 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3 assists
Maybe only the third- or fourth-best player on the team, which is really saying something.
PF: Dave DeBusschere—18.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists
I can't pronounce his name, but I can say with confidence that he was a heck of a basketball player.
C: Willis Reed—11.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks
What you talkin' bout, Willis?
7. 2007-08 Boston Celtics
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PG: Rajon Rondo—10.6 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals
Without Rondo, would the Celtics have been as good as they were? Probably not.
SG: Ray Allen—17.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.9 steals
One of—if not the—greatest pure shooters in NBA history, Allen still drains his threes today.
SF: Paul Pierce—19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 steals
The Finals MVP, Pierce was a monster all season long.
PF: Kevin Garnett—18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks
As you can see, Garnett did a little bit of everything in his first season as a Celtic.
C: Kendrick Perkins—6.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks
The supposed "weakest link" of this Celtics team, Perkins did pretty much exactly what was expected of him.
6. 1996-97 Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
PG: Ron Harper—6.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals
Somebody has to be in this point guard spot.
SG: Michael Jordan—29.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals
The greatest player in NBA history.
SF: Scottie Pippen—20.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 steals
Pippen is one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History for a reason, even if he was always "Robin" in Chicago.
PF: Dennis Rodman—5.7 points, 16.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists
No one cleaned up the glass quite like Rodman did in Chicago.
C: Luc Longley—9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 blocks
I used to love watching this guy play for some reason. He fit his role well.
5. 2003-04 L.A. Lakers
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PG: Gary Payton—14.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals
"The Glove" still produced despite being on the tail end of his career.
SG: Kobe Bryant—24 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.7 steals
Even with a team stacked with future Hall of Famers, Kobe led the Lakers in scoring.
SF: Devean George—7.4 points, 4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1 steal
George lucked out by getting to play on this team.
PF: Karl Malone—13.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals
One of the greatest power forwards of all time, though this was his last NBA season.
C: Shaquille O'Neal—21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.5 blocks, 58.4 field-goal percentage
Undoubtedly the game's most dominant center.
4. 1962-63 Boston Celtics
Jeff Golden/Getty Images
PG: Bob Cousy—13.2 points, 6.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds
A six-time NBA Champion, Cousy was one of—if not the—league's best point guards in the late '50s and early '60s.
SG: John Havlicek—14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Hard to imagine how good this backcourt was.
SF: Sam Jones—19.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists
An underrated small forward, Jones led this Celtics team in scoring.
PF: Tom Heinsohn—18.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Hardly anyone remembers the name "Heinsohn" when thinking of the Celtic greats.
C: Bill Russell—16.8 points, 23.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists
I think Kevin Love is about as close as we'll get to seeing 23.6 rebounds per game again.
3. 1969-70 L.A. Lakers
PG: Jerry West—26.8 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds
I mean, this man's silhouette is actually on the NBA logo. That's impressive.
SG: Happy Hairston—19 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Not really a shooting guard, but a great name nonetheless.
SF: Elgin Baylor—21.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists
Kobe Bryant has said he patterns his game after Baylor's, which is probably a good idea.
PF: John Tresvant—19.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists
With five Lakers averaging at least 19 points, I guess the game was a little different back then, huh?
C: Wilt Chamberlain—23.4 points, 15.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Seriously, who stopped this team?
2. 1986-87 Boston Celtics
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PG: Dennis Johnson—13.4 points, 7.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals
A five-time NBA All-Star and a one-time NBA Finals MVP, Johnson was quite the distributor for the Celtics.
SG: Danny Ainge—14.8 points, 5.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals
Boston got a little bit of everything from Ainge, who was one of five Celtics to average at least 13 points this season.
SF: Larry Bird—28.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks
If you think LeBron James' current stats are impressive, just look at Bird's.
PF: Robert Parish—17.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 blocks
Parish is a nine-time All-Star and a Hall of Famer for a reason.
C: Kevin McHale—26.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.2 blocks
It's hard to imagine playing against a team with three players who average at least nine rebounds.
1. 1987-88 L.A. Lakers
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PG: Magic Johnson—19.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals
Ah, the perks of being a 6'8" point guard.
SG: Byron Scott—21.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.9 steals
I bet Scott is wishing he could suit up and play for the Cavaliers right about now.
SF: James Worthy—19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.0 steals
Pardon the cliche pun, but Worthy was certainly worth a lot to the Lakers this season.
PF: A.C. Green—11.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals
The forgotten player of this starting five, Green was a beast on the boards.
C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—14.6 points, 6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 blocks
If Kareem wasn't 40 years old this season, I'm not sure this team would even be legal.