The Ideal Starting 5 for Each NBA Team

Danny PaskasSenior Analyst IOctober 29, 2011

The Ideal Starting 5 for Each NBA Team

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    Most NBA teams' starting fives are three or four deep. They have the majority of the pieces in place to make them a decent or even good team.

    What most teams need is that one piece (or two, in some cases) to plug into the starting five to get over that hump that seperates decent teams from good ones and good teams from great ones.

    These pieces do not necessarily need to be All-Stars or superstars. Sometimes, a good role player will complement the other starters to make the team's starting five ideal.

    The rules for making this listI can add at most two players to a current NBA's team's starting five. The player(s) I add through free agency must fit under the cap. If I add a player(s) through a trade, it must work in ESPN's Trade Machine.

    Free Agents can show up on multiple rosters, traded players also. For example Nene can be ideal for the New Jersey Nets and the Denver Nuggets.

    Feel free to make recommendations of your own.

    Here are my ideal starting five:

Atlanta Hawks

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Steve Nash

    Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson

    Small Forward: Marvin Williams

    Power Forward: Al Horford

    Center: Zaza Pachulia

    Atlanta really needs a point guard, so why not get Steve Nash?

    Send Josh Smith to Phoenix for Steve Nash.

    Smith has been involved in trade rumors last season and even before that. Marvin Williams could slip into the starting SF spot finally and Nash can reunite with Joe Johnson. They worked well together before.

    The Suns might be inclined to accept the trade since the team has ran its course and Nash only has one year left on his contract. Phoenix would get a really good player in Smith and can start to rebuild. Vince Carter's, Mickael Pietrus's and Robin Lopez's salaries come off the cap after next season.

Boston Celtics

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Rajon Rondo

    Shooting Guard: Ray Allen

    Small Forward: Paul Pierce

    Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

    Center: Nenad Krstic

    The Celtics are stuck with this group for one more year. They don't have any flexibility. I would start Krstic over Jermaine O'Neal.

    After this season, Garnett's, Allen's, O'Neal's and Krstic's contracts come off their books and they will have plenty of cap room after whenever this season ends.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: D.J. Augustin

    Shooting Guard: Kemba Walker

    Small Forward: Cory Maggette

    Power Forward: Tyrus Thomas

    Center: Samuel Dalembert

    Charlotte is in a rough spot. They spent too much on marginal players like Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, DeSagana Diop and took on Maggette's high salary.

    They really don't have any tradeable assets and need help at center, their only option right now is Diop.

    They have just about $6 million left in cap room, maybe it will be enough to sign Dalembert.

Chicago Bulls

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Derrick Rose

    Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo

    Small Forward: Luol Deng

    Power Forward: Carlos Boozer

    Center: Joakim Noah

    The Bulls need another one of their starters to be able to create his own shot when Rose goes cold. This was apparent in the playoffs.

    The Memphis Grizzlies are deep at SG and it looks like Mayo needs a change of scenery.

    Chicago should send Kyle Korver to Memphis for Mayo. Mayo can create his own shot, Korver can't. When Roes goes cold, Mayo can pick up the slack.

    Memphis will get a good three-point shooter out of the deal.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Kyrie Irving

    Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis

    Small Forward: Danny Granger

    Power Forward: Antawn Jamison

    Center: Ryan Hollins

    Cleveland has to start their No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving right?

    From there they can use their LeBron James trade exception to get Ellis. This would save the Warriors money and lets them get rid of a potential problem pairing with Stephen Curry.

    The Cavs then trade Anderson Varajao and Ramon Sessions to the Indiana Pacers for Granger. Indiana's starting PG is George Hill at the moment and Sessions can be insurance for them. Varajao can give them more depth up front.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Jason Kidd

    Shooting Guard: Rudy Fernandez

    Small Forward: Shawn Marion

    Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki

    Center: Tyson Chandler

    Dallas may be old but they're not broke so I'm not going to fix them. The only change is at SG; since DeShawn Stevenson is gone, Fernandez should fit in nicely.

    With the Mavs being over the cap, I don't know how they're going to re-sign Chandler but they must find a way.

    If they can't find a way to re-sign him, they could possibly send Marion to Golden State for center Andris Biedrins.

    Then the starting five would be; Kidd, Jason Terry, Fernandez, Dirk, Biedrins.

Denver Nuggets

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Ty Lawson

    Shooting Guard: Aaron Afflalo

    Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari

    Power Forward: Nene Hilario

    Center: Tyson Chandler

    The Nuggets had a stacked team after they made the Carmelo Anthony trade. Now they have a ton of cap space and a few players they hope to re-sign.

    Kenyon Martin, Aaron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Nene and J.R. Smith are all free agents.

    Denver should use their money to re-sign Afflalo and Nene then make a push for Chandler with the rest.

Detroit Pistons

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Brandon Knight

    Shooting Guard: Ben Gordon

    Small Forward: Austin Daye

    Power Forward: Glen Davis

    Center: Greg Monroe

    The Pistons do not have a lot to work with and are only $8 million less than the cap. Tayshaun Prince is an unrestricted free agent who I don't see them re-signing. Richard Hamilton's contract is practically untradeable.

    Might as well start the rookie Brandon Knight and move Daye into the starting lineup.

    With their cap room, they should sign someone like Glen Davis. It's either Davis or Charlie Villanueva. I believe Davis is better.

Golden State Warriors

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Stephen Curry

    Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis

    Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince

    Power Forward: Ekpe Udoh

    Center: David Lee

    Golden State needs a defensive upgrade from Dorrell Wright, they should use some of the $7 million in cap space on Prince.

    Prince can bring the defense and leadership that the young Warriors desperately need. He does not command the ball, so he would not slow the offense.

    And just maybe he can teach some of the younger players how to play actual defense.  

Houston Rockets

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Kyle Lowry

    Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin

    Small Forward: Chase Buddinger

    Power Forward: Luis Scola

    Center: Robin Lopez

    The Rockets have a good roster but they are short at center, literally, with Chuck Hayes starting and Yao Ming retiring. They have a ton of guards, so why not trade one of them?

    Houston sends Jonny Flynn to Phoenix for Robin Lopez. Houston gets their center and Phoenix gets their possible Steve Nash replacement. 

Indiana Pacers

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: George Hill

    Shooting Guard: Darren Collison

    Small Forward: Paul George

    Power Forward: Nene Hilario

    Center: Chris Kaman

    The Pacers have a decent roster and and are $20 million less than the cap. Danny Granger and Paul George duplicate each other making one of them a luxury.

    So, the Pacers trade Granger for Chris Kaman. Then they move Collison to SG, George to SF, get Nene in free agency and put Kaman at center.

    They can also trade Granger to the Jazz for Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe

    Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon

    Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince/Caron Butler

    Power Forward: Blake Griffin

    Center: DeAndre Jordan

    The Clippers have a lot of very nice young pieces and they have money to spend. Al-Farouq Aminu does not look like he's ready to start just yet, so the Clips should get a proven starter through free agency. They can do this by signing either Prince or Butler.

    They also need to make re-signing Jordan a priority.

    If they are able to sign him, they can trade Chris Kaman for Danny Granger. This trade would work out well for both teams.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Ramon Sessions

    Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

    Small Forward: Matt Barnes

    Power Forward: Pau Gasol

    Center: Andrew Bynum

    The Lakers don't have much flexibility. They do have a trade exception though, and unless they want Derek Fisher to remain the starter, they have to make a move.

    Sessions can fill the point guard role right away. Cleveland may be ready to deal in order to start Kyrie Irving right away.

    Also, with Metta World Peace wearing down, it looks like the right time Barnes starts ahead of him.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Mike Conley

    Shooting Guard: Tony Allen

    Small Forward: Rudy Gay

    Power Forward: Zack Randolph

    Center: Marc Gasol

    If Memphis re-signs Marc Gasol, it looks like they will already have their ideal starting five. Tony Allen's playoff performance should have earned him a starting spot.

    Rudy Gay, coming off an injury, should be just like adding a high-priced free agent to this team.

Miami Heat

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Mario Chalmers

    Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade

    Small Forward: LeBron James

    Power Forward: Chris Bosh

    Center: Robin Lopez

    Miami has no cap room and hardly any tradeable assets. The center position was a problem for them last season. They can fix this by sending Mike Miller to the Suns for Robin Lopez and a trade exception.

    All Lopez would have to do is play good defense and rebound, and that he can do.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Brandon Jennings

    Shooting Guard: Stephen Jackson

    Small Forward: Carlos Delfino

    Power Forward: Ersan Ilyasova

    Center: Andrew Bogut

    Milwaukee made their big move on draft day and acquired Stephen Jackson. I believe Ilyasova deserves to be in the starting five. Every time he's given minutes, he produces and deserves to get more.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Ricky Rubio

    Shooting Guard: Wesley Johnson

    Small Forward: Michael Beasley

    Power Forward: Kevin Love

    Center: Robin Lopez

    Time for the Rubio era to finally begin. Darko at center is not the answer. So, Minnesota sends Anthony Randolph to the Suns for Robin Lopez.

    Randolph is the versatile kind of player Phoenix loves and Lopez would fill the Wolves need at center.

New Jersey Nets

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Deron Williams

    Shooting Guard: Anthony Morrow

    Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince

    Power Forward: Nene Hilario

    Center: Brook Lopez

    The Nets have the money to spend and must upgrade the roster to appease Deron. They must get better at SF. Prince can come in right away as the proven veteran this young team needs. Nene can team with Lopez to form one of the better frontcourts in the league. 

New Orleans Hornets

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Chris Paul

    Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli

    Small Forward: Trevor Ariza

    Power Forward: David West

    Center: Emeka Okafor

    No changes here. The Hornets have a good starting five, as long as they re-sign West and Belinelli.

New York Knicks

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Chauncey Billups

    Shooting Guard: Landry Fields

    Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony

    Power Forward: Amare Stoudemire

    Center: Robin Lopez

    The Knicks are in desperate need of a center. So, they send Toney Douglas and Renaldo Balkman to Phoenix for Robin Lopez.

    Lopez is a legit seven footer who can bring them a defensive presence and can play a little offense too.

    This is the last time I'll use Robin Lopez. I just think he's a much cheaper version of Tyson Chandler and fits really well with center starved teams.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Russell Westbrook

    Shooting Guard: James Harden

    Small Forward: Kevin Durant

    Power Forward: Serge Ibaka

    Center: Kendrick Perkins

    Just a tweak here, Harden moves into the starting SG spot.

Orlando Magic

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Tony Parker

    Shooting Guard: Gilbert Arenas

    Small Forward: Hedo Turkoglu

    Power Forward: Brandon Bass

    Center: Dwight Howard

    Something is clearly not working in Orlando, so it's time for another shakeup. Magic sends Jameer Nelson, J.J. Reddick and Ryan Anderson to the Spurs for Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess.

    Howard gets a better point guard in Parker and the Magic will save some money with McDyess coming off the books next season.

    San Antonio gets a pretty good return for Parker, who I believe has worn out his welcome in Texas.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Jrue Holliday

    Shooting Guard: Evan Turner

    Small Forward: Andre Iguodala

    Power Forward: Elton Brand

    Center: Tyson Chandler

    The Sixers have a pretty good starting four, that is if Brand can stay healthy. They should move last year's rookie, Turner, into the SG spot ahead of Jodie Meeks. Turner showed signs of improvement after a slow start.

    Through free agency, Tyson Chandler could be a major improvement over Spencer Hawes.

Phoenix Suns

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Steve Nash

    Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo

    Small Forward: Jared Dudley

    Power Forward: Channing Frye

    Center: Marcin Gortat

    The Suns seem to be closing in on the end of the Steve Nash era. This upcoming season will be his last year under contract in Phoenix.

    Maybe O.J. Mayo can be sort of a going away present for him. Mayo is an upgrade from Vince Carter at this point in his career.

    To get Mayo, the Suns can use their Amare trade exception. The Memphis Grizzlies are stacked at the shooting guard and can use the money to re-sign Marc Gasol.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Raymond Felton

    Shooting Guard: Wesley Matthews

    Small Forward: Gerald Wallace

    Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge

    Center: Marcus Camby

    I wouldn't change anything here, except plug the recently acquired Felton into start at the point and see how it goes.

    Portland's starting five has a good mix of youth and vets and should be good to go depending on how good Felton can be.

Sacramento Kings

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Jimmer Fredette

    Shooting Guard: Tyreke Evans

    Small Forward: Caron Butler or Tayshaun Prince

    Power Forward: DeMarcus Cousins

    Center: Tyson Chandler

    The Kings have a lot of young talent and a lot of shoot-first players. They need veteran leadership and a pure point guard to distribute the ball.

    They also have a bunch of cap room. They should throw a lot of that money at Chandler, he would be a perfect defensive complement to the offensive Cousins.

    Then get a veteran SF in Butler or Prince, players that don't need the ball to contribute.

    I don't know what they were thinking with drafting another shoot-first guard in Jimmer Fredette. Well, probably ticket sales. But, what does this mean for Tyreke Evans who plays a similar type game? Do they plan to trade him for a point?

    There is really no option for a point guard in free agency unless they want to take a flyer out on T.J. Ford or Acie Law.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Jameer Nelson

    Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili

    Small Forward: Ryan Anderson

    Power Forward: Tim Duncan

    Center: DeJuan Blair

    It's time for a change in San Antonio. They looked like an old and defeated team in last season's playoffs. It's time to bring in some youth.

    Spurs trade Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess to the Orlando Magic for Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick.

    This group puts together a pretty nice starting five.

Toronto Raptors

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Jose Calderon

    Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozan

    Small Forward: Andrei Kirilenko

    Power Forward: Ed Davis

    Center: Andrea Bargnani

    Last season's rookie Ed Davis proved he belongs last season averaging seven points and seven rebounds per game in 25 minutes. He should be the Raptors starting PF this season.

    In free agency, Andrei Kirilenko would be a good fit for the international city of Toronto. He can get out and run with Calderon, DeRozan and Bargnani while providing defense and his all-around game.

Utah Jazz

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: Devin Harris

    Shooting Guard: Raja Bell

    Small Forward: Danny Granger

    Power Forward: Derrick Favors

    Center: Al Jefferon

    The Jazz drafted C Enes Kanter leaving them flush with big men. Paul Millsap is the odd man out. Jazz should ship Millsap and C. J. Miles to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger.

    Granger has been brought up in trade rumors numerous times and has become an expensive luxury to the Pacers ever since they drafted Paul George, who has a similar game but is younger than Granger and cheaper.

Washington Wizards

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    Ideal Starting Five

    Point Guard: John Wall

    Shooting Guard: Jordan Crawford

    Small Forward: Shane Battier

    Power Forward: Andray Blatche

    Center: JaVale McGee

    Washington has a very young, talented team and they need time to grow and become familiar with each other. What they don't have is a strong veteran presence. Free agent Shane Battier can provide that.

    Battier doesn't care too much about getting his minutes, so there would be no big clash with incoming first-round SF Jan Vesely. Battier can come to Washington and show this young bunch how to play as a team and hold them accountable for their mistakes. He can also provide defense and three-point shooting.

    With close to $12 million in cap room, the Wizards can make Battier a great offer.