Predicting Every NBA Team's Starting Lineup and Top Reserve This Season

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 22, 2022

Predicting Every NBA Team's Starting Lineup and Top Reserve This Season

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    Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

    NBA training camps open everywhere over the next week, with plenty of players looking to secure their spots in opening lineups.

    With so many big names changing teams this offseason (Donovan Mitchell, Dejounte Murray, Rudy Gobert, Jalen Brunson, Christian Wood, Collin Sexton, Jerami Grant, etc.), we could see a lot of shake-ups in a number of franchises' starting fives.

    While a lot of these names haven't been chiseled in stone just yet, here's how all 30 teams' starting lineups project to look, including the leading candidate for sixth man.

    Note: New additions to the team will be italicized.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Trae Young

    SG: Dejounte Murray

    SF: De'Andre Hunter

    PF: John Collins

    C: Clint Capela

    Sixth Man: Bogdan Bogdanović

    This is one of the most improved lineups in all of basketball, simply by adding Murray to a backcourt that already features one of the game's greatest offensive threats.

    One of the best point-of-attack defenders in the league, Murray also provides Atlanta with a secondary creator, one who finished fourth overall in assists per game (9.2) and fifth in assist percentage (40.6 percent).

    If Hunter can put together a healthy season, he's a big wing who can hit shots and defend at a high level. His next contract will depend on all three.

    A frontcourt of Collins and Capela will be terrific pick-and-roll partners for both Young and Murray, although we'll see how long Collins is satisfied in an offensive role that should be reduced even more now with Murray on board.

    After being a part-time starter for the past five years, Bogdanović could thrive now in a dedicated sixth man role with both his scoring and playmaking ability.

Boston Celtics

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    Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Marcus Smart

    SG: Jaylen Brown

    SF: Jayson Tatum

    PF: Al Horford

    C: Robert Williams III

    Sixth Man: Malcolm Brogdon

    The defending Eastern Conference champs bring back a highly successful starting five while also adding Brogdon via trade from the Indiana Pacers, someone who should immediately be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.

    Only three five-man combos in the entire NBA spent more time together than this starting five, as the Celtics posted a jaw-dropping plus-24.3 net rating in 907 total possessions, per Cleaning the Glass.

    Boston also has a ton of flexibility if the 36-year-old Horford starts to slip, either by swapping in Grant Williams at power forward or going small with Brogdon, Smart, Brown, Tatum and Williams.

    For now, there's no reason to change what was the second-most successful starting unit in the NBA last season.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Kyrie Irving

    SG: Seth Curry

    SF: Kevin Durant

    PF: Ben Simmons

    C: Nic Claxton

    Sixth Man: Joe Harris

    Positions mean little to this Nets group, who could end up starting Simmons at point guard, center or anywhere in between.

    Putting someone who's been a point guard their entire career and is coming off back surgery as the starting center to begin the season seems risky, however, so expect Brooklyn to use Claxton as the opening 5 for now.

    Curry could eventually be jumped in the starting five by Harris, although the 31-year-old should probably come off the bench to start as the Nets try to ease him back to the court following a pair of ankle surgeries.

    At some point, a starting five of Irving, Curry, Harris, Durant and Simmons could be the best offensive unit in the NBA given the amount of elite shooting and playmaking that this group would possess.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: LaMelo Ball

    SG: Terry Rozier

    SF: Gordon Hayward

    PF: P.J. Washington

    C: Mason Plumlee

    Sixth Man: Kelly Oubre Jr.

    Despite all being on the Hornets last season, this five-man combo didn't log a single minute together, according to Cleaning the Glass, so it's tough to tell just how well they'll co-exist.

    It's only a matter of time before No. 15 overall pick Mark Williams takes the starting center job from Plumlee, although the veteran should win the honors out of training camp. Williams could eventually become a terrific defensive anchor and lob threat playing next to Ball, however.

    Oubre is one of the NBA's better sixth men who would be starting for a number of teams, and he will inevitably see time with this group if Hayward's durability issues persist.

    It would be nice to see second-year shooting guard James Bouknight push Rozier for the starting job at some point, as his development could go a long way in deciding where the Hornets will finish in the East.

Chicago Bulls

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    Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Alex Caruso

    SG: Zach LaVine

    SF: DeMar DeRozan

    PF: Patrick Williams

    C: Nikola Vučević

    Sixth Man: Ayo Dosunmu

    Lingering knee pain and now a second knee surgery will likely cause Ball to miss the beginning of the season, although perhaps no team in the NBA has as many ball-handling guards (Caruso, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Goran Dragić) to step in, if needed.

    LaVine and DeRozan are All-Stars who should once again have big seasons, and Vučević is playing for a new contract while currently finishing up a four-year, $100 million deal.

    Williams' development going into year three could be the difference between a top-six seed or play-in spot for these Bulls, who face some heavily improved competition in the East.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Nick Cammett/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Darius Garland

    SG: Donovan Mitchell

    SF: Isaac Okoro

    PF: Evan Mobley

    C: Jarrett Allen

    Sixth Man: Caris LeVert

    Mitchell brings some star power to this starting lineup, one that already features a pair of 2022 All-Stars in Garland and Allen.

    This will be one of the most difficult backcourts in the NBA to contain, and Garland's and Mitchell's defensive concerns should be minimized by Mobley (a future Defensive Player of the Year) and Allen, one of the league's best rim protectors.

    The starting small forward job will likely either go to Okoro or LeVert, although the former fits better as a three-and-D specialist who gives LeVert more playmaking freedom in the second unit.

    Last year's Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, Kevin Love, now becomes the seventh man with this group, and possibly eighth when Ricky Rubio returns from a torn ACL. This speaks to both Cleveland's depth and overall talent in year five of its rebuild.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Tim Heitman/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Luka Dončić

    SG: Spencer Dinwiddie

    SF: Tim Hardaway Jr.

    PF: Dorian Finney-Smith

    C: JaVale McGee

    Sixth Man: Christian Wood

    While it was assumed that Wood would be Dallas' starting power forward following an offseason trade from the Houston Rockets, ESPN's Tim MacMahon writes, "The Mavs plan to feature Wood as a sixth man—a role that might not be easy for him to accept as he enters a contract year."

    This seems like a bizarre choice, especially given that Dallas needs another big-time offensive threat next to Dončić now with Jalen Brunson gone. With Wood being on the final year of his contract, he'd almost certainly pursue a starting job elsewhere if the Mavericks don't give him one now.

    Staggering Dončić and Dinwiddie would be wise as well, given that they're the only two reliable ball-handlers on the roster.

    If Wood indeed ends up coming off the bench, this starting lineup seems very underwhelming.

Denver Nuggets

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    Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Jamal Murray

    SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

    SF: Michael Porter Jr.

    PF: Aaron Gordon

    C: Nikola Jokić

    Sixth Man: Bones Hyland

    Trading for Caldwell-Pope from the Washington Wizards put a bow on this starting five, one that could end up being the most dangerous in the NBA with good health.

    Jokić is only getting better and will be in the running for a third straight MVP, especially if Denver finishes with the top record in the West. Murray and Porter Jr. will thrive as ball-handlers and spot-up shooters next to Jokić, with Gordon serving as a lob finisher and multi-positional defender.

    Following a successful rookie season where he averaged 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and made 36.6 percent of his threes, a leap from Hyland would truly push these Nuggets up the standings.

Detroit Pistons

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    Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Cade Cunningham

    SG: Jaden Ivey

    SF: Saddiq Bey

    PF: Bojan Bogdanovic

    C: Isaiah Stewart

    Sixth Man: Jalen Duren

    Cunningham, Ivey and Bey seem locked in as starters to begin the season, and Bogdanovic will almost certainly open at power forward following his surprising trade from the Utah Jazz.

    The starting center position will be a battle between Stewart and No. 13 overall pick Jalen Duren, although we could see lineups featuring both given Stewart's three-point shooting ability.

    Cunningham's size and versatility means a number of lineups are possible. This year will be about figuring out the best combinations while also letting this talented, young group grow together.

Golden State Warriors

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Stephen Curry

    SG: Klay Thompson

    SF: Andrew Wiggins

    PF: Draymond Green

    C: Kevon Looney

    Sixth Man: Jordan Poole

    The NBA's only starting five that's already won a championship together, the Warriors will once again be awesome in 2022-23.

    This is the first time since the 2018-19 season that Thompson will be healthy for training camp, meaning a full-time bench role for Poole once again. With a hefty contract extension looming, Poole should be one of the favorites for Sixth Man of the Year.

    Wiggins and Green are also playing for new deals, as the latter carries a $27.6 million player option for next year.

    Looney remains one of the most underrated players in the NBA, even after showcasing his importance to Golden State in last year's playoffs.

Houston Rockets

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Kevin Porter Jr.

    SG: Jalen Green

    SF: Eric Gordon

    PF: Jabari Smith Jr.

    C: Alperen Şengün

    Sixth Man: Jae'Sean Tate

    The Rockets aren't going to win many games this season, but this starting five could be a whole lot of fun to watch.

    Porter and Green can light up the scoreboard, while Gordon, the only player over 22 in this lineup, serves as the old head who can still score, distribute and play solid defense.

    Smith should be plenty motivated to prove he should have been the No. 1 overall pick, and the 19-year-old is talented enough to be a plus-defender even as a rookie.

    Don't sleep on Şengün, who was already one of the NBA's best big-man passers as a rookie last season. Porter, Green and Smith should get plenty of easy baskets just by making smart cuts and keeping their head on a swivel.

Indiana Pacers

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Tyrese Haliburton

    SG: Ben Mathurin

    SF: Buddy Hield

    PF: Jalen Smith

    C: Myles Turner

    Sixth Man: Chris Duarte

    Haliburton is the NBA's next great point guard and an All-Star candidate if the Pacers' record allows it—a highly efficient shooter and talented passer who's primed for a big year.

    Who he passes to, however, could change dramatically as the season goes on.

    For now, Turner and Hield are both still Pacers and will almost certainly be starters, both because of their talent and to showcase the veterans in potential trades.

    Mathurin and Smith are two potential building blocks for Haliburton to grow alongside, however, and Duarte provides instant offense off the bench.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: John Wall

    SG: Paul George

    SF: Kawhi Leonard

    PF: Nicolas Batum

    C: Ivica Zubac

    Sixth Man: Reggie Jackson (or Norman Powell, Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, Terance Mann, etc.)

    The only NBA team that could feature six players talented enough to be a sixth man, these Clippers are the deepest team in the league.

    The starting point guard job will come down to Wall vs. Jackson, although Wall could make more sense as a scorer and playmaker coming off the bench. Leonard, George and Zubac (the team's only true center) are the only three locked into starting jobs.

    Who the Clippers open games with will likely differ drastically from who closes games, as head coach Tyronn Lue has the luxury of choosing from so many potential hot hands. We'll likely see a lot of small-ball lineups with either Batum, Morris or Covington playing center as well.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Russell Westbrook

    SG: Patrick Beverley

    SF: LeBron James

    PF: Anthony Davis

    C: Thomas Bryant

    Sixth Man: Lonnie Walker IV

    The addition of Beverley was a terrific fit for this Lakers team in need of shooting, defense and toughness. Head coach Darvin Ham acknowledged that both Beverley and Westbrook could start alongside each other in the backcourt "if they play defense" with Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves competing for a spot as well.

    Playing small with Davis at center will probably be this team's go-to look in the fourth quarter of games, but starting Bryant at center gives the Lakers another shooter and allows Davis to guard power forwards.

    Walker, the Lakers' primary offseason signing, could also sneak into the starting lineup at some point. If he has a breakout season à la Malik Monk last year, his shooting and athleticism will be needed next to James and Davis as much as possible.

    If Westbrook isn't traded and gets off to another turnover-heavy, poor-shooting start, how long can Ham realistically keep him in the opening lineup when better-fitting options are now available? The combo of Westbrook, James and Davis simply didn't work last year (minus-3.0 net rating in 818 total possessions), and there's no reason to believe it will improve as all three move further past their primes.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Ja Morant

    SG: Desmond Bane

    SF: Dillon Brooks

    PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.

    C: Steven Adams

    Sixth Man: Tyus Jones

    The Grizzlies' starting five absolutely blitzed opponents last season, outscoring teams by a whopping 25.1 points per 100 possessions, ranking in the 95th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass. Every member of the lineup is still in their 20s, with Morant, Bane and Jackson still 24 or younger.

    This group may not get to begin the year together, however, as Jackson had surgery to address a stress fracture in his right foot. A four-to-six month recovery period means his debut could be anywhere from the end of October to early 2023.

    With players like Brandon Clarke and rookies Jake LaRavia and David Roddy, however, the Grizzlies do have some big-man depth behind Jackson they can turn to at power forward.

Miami Heat

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    Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Kyle Lowry

    SG: Max Strus

    SF: Jimmy Butler

    PF: Caleb Martin

    C: Bam Adebayo

    Sixth Man: Tyler Herro

    For now, only Butler, Adebayo and Lowry are locked into starting jobs. It may take a full training camp to see who claims the opening shooting guard and power forward jobs, with players like Strus, Martin, Herro and Duncan Robinson all in the running.

    While a bit undersized, making Martin the starting power forward helps keep the floor spread (41.3 percent from three last season) and prevents Butler from having to defend 4s on a full-time basis.

    Herro was the NBA's best sixth man last season, so messing with this role may not be something Erik Spoelstra wants to do, even if he's more talented overall than Strus.

    Miami may need to trade for a true power forward at some point (John Collins, Jae Crowder) to give this starting lineup more size and bite overall.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Jrue Holiday

    SG: Grayson Allen

    SF: Khris Middleton

    PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo

    C: Brook Lopez

    Sixth Man: Bobby Portis

    Lopez's back surgery prevented this group from spending much time together last season, although a plus-21.7 net rating (albeit in just 20 total possessions) is encouraging.

    This is a championship-caliber starting five once again, as Antetokounmpo is the best player in basketball while Holiday and Middleton should still be playing at an All-Star level.

    Now 34 and on an expiring deal, Lopez's situation should be monitored. If his play slips, we could see Portis take over as a starter and Lopez's contract used as a potential trade chip.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: D'Angelo Russell

    SG: Anthony Edwards

    SF: Jaden McDaniels

    PF: Karl-Anthony Towns

    C: Rudy Gobert

    Sixth Man: Kyle Anderson

    This Wolves team will be fascinating to watch this season, with Towns' move to the full-time power forward position and Gobert's overall integration into a new team.

    As good as these two All-Star big men could be together, Edwards remains the best talent on the roster. He'll almost certainly make the leap to All-Star status this season as he improves his shot selection and overall efficiency.

    If Russell is willing to sacrifice some of his own shot attempts and focus on setting the table for others, this could be one of the best starting units in the NBA, especially if McDaniels can continue to improve his defense and three-point shooting.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: CJ McCollum

    SG: Herbert Jones

    SF: Brandon Ingram

    PF: Zion Williamson

    C: Jonas Valančiūnas

    Sixth Man: Devonte' Graham

    While McCollum isn't a traditional point guard, he'll likely be the Pelicans' floor general moving forward, especially since this lineup has multiple ball-handlers. This also gives New Orleans one of the biggest starting fives in the NBA with the 6'8" Jones at shooting guard.

    Williamson averaged 27.0 points per game the last time we saw him, but he could be the fourth scoring option on some nights given how much talent is on this roster.

    If Ingram and Valančiūnas can improve their three-point shooting, this could be a top-five offense with Jones serving as the team's much-needed defensive stopper.

New York Knicks

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Jalen Brunson

    SG: RJ Barrett

    SF: Evan Fournier

    PF: Julius Randle

    C: Mitchell Robinson

    Sixth Man: Immanuel Quickley

    Brunson was brought in to bring out the best in the rest of these Knicks, which won't be an easy task. The four-man combo of Barrett, Fournier, Randle and Robinson had a net rating of minus-5.3 in 1,883 total possessions last season, ranking in just the 27th percentile overall.

    New York should seriously consider starting Quickley or Quentin Grimes over Fournier, giving this unit some more upside and defense overall.

    If Brunson plays at a near-All-Star level and Randle looks like his 2019-20 version, this lineup has some real bite. If Randle plays like he did last season and Fournier remains in the starting lineup, these Knicks will fall short of the playoffs once again.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

    SG: Josh Giddey

    SF: Lu Dort

    PF: Darius Bazley

    C: Derrick Favors

    Sixth Man: Aleksej Pokuševski

    Chet Holmgren's foot surgery will likely make us wait a year to see him join this lineup, as he would have been a lock as the team's starting power forward.

    Bazley has one more year to prove himself before becoming a restricted free agent next season and could get jumped by Pokuševski if he doesn't show enough growth. Favors will likely begin the year as the starting center, although he's a prime trade candidate now on an expiring deal.

    This unit will once again be led by Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, who could very well be a first-time All-Star this season. With the backcourt set in stone, the frontcourt could still be a revolving door of prospects with Holmgren sidelined.

Orlando Magic

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Cole Anthony

    SG: Jalen Suggs

    SF: Franz Wagner

    PF: Paolo Banchero

    C: Wendell Carter Jr.

    Sixth Man: Mo Bamba

    Banchero immediately becomes the focal point of Orlando's starting lineup, as the attention he'll draw both as a scorer and playmaker should open up plenty of easy looks for everyone else. There's no reason why Banchero shouldn't become the Rookie of the Year with the workload he's expected to see.

    The guards could certainly use some more open looks, as neither Anthony nor Suggs shot above 39.1 percent last year. Both should be better with another offseason of work and a future All-Star to play off of now.

    Carter looks like at least an above-average starting NBA center, one who's just starting a team-friendly four-year, $50 million extension. Wagner also gives this lineup plenty of upside with his size and overall skill set, while bringing Bamba off the bench as a 4 or 5 adds some rim protection and outside shooting.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: James Harden

    SG: Tyrese Maxey

    SF: Tobias Harris

    PF: P.J. Tucker

    C: Joel Embiid

    Sixth Man: De'Anthony Melton

    With Tucker on board, this could be the best overall combination of offense and defense of any starting lineup.

    Embiid will once again be a top MVP candidate while dominating on both ends, Harden is still one of the league's best playmakers and Maxey is an electric offensive talent who has worked himself from being a below-average to now elite three-point shooter.

    Harris as a fourth scoring option is a luxury, and Tucker doesn't need to do much besides defend, set screens and hit open corner threes.

    Trading for Melton as the team's sixth man was a great move, as he fits nicely as a defensive playmaker next to both Harden and Maxey.

Phoenix Suns

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    Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: Devin Booker

    SF: Mikal Bridges

    PF: Jae Crowder

    C: Deandre Ayton

    Sixth Man: Cam Johnson

    ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that Crowder is currently available in trade talks, so his time as the team's starting power forward may be short-lived. If he is moved and no power forward comes back in return, Johnson is more than capable of taking over.

    Booker is coming off his first career All-NBA team and could threaten to lead the league in scoring, especially if Paul's shot attempts continue to decline.

    Bridges is one of the league's top wing defenders, and Ayton is a borderline All-Star who has improved defensively as well.

    While there may be some unsettled situations with a potential Crowder trade and Ayton getting his max deal via an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, this is still a championship-worthy starting five.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Damian Lillard

    SG: Anfernee Simons

    SF: Josh Hart

    PF: Jerami Grant

    C: Jusuf Nurkić

    Sixth Man: Nassir Little

    These Blazers will look far different from the group that started last season, as only Lillard and Nurkić remain from the opening-night lineup.

    A healthy Lillard is still one of the best basketball players in the world now at age 32, and he could win his first career scoring title with CJ McCollum and Norman Powell traded away.

    Grant will do wonders for the team's defense, and Hart works well as a do-it-all forward who can score, rebound, pass and guard multiple positions.

    The sixth man could go to a number of players, although Little is going to be an important part of the rotation with his defense and versatility. If rookie Shaedon Sharpe can become a reliable scorer off the bench, this Blazers team could surprise a lot of people.

Sacramento Kings

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    Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: De'Aaron Fox

    SG: Malik Monk

    SF: Harrison Barnes

    PF: Keegan Murray

    C: Domantas Sabonis

    Sixth Man: Kevin Huerter

    Four of the Kings' starting positions appear to be locked in, although shooting guard could be a battle between three deserving candidates.

    Monk is a former college teammate of Fox at Kentucky and averaged 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 37 starts with the Lakers last season, all while shooting 42.2 percent from three. Putting this kind of shooting around elite playmakers like Fox and Sabonis is important.

    Huerter (6'7") would give Sacramento the biggest lineup, while Davion Mitchell is the best defender of the three. We could see all three get a chance at the starting shooting guard job at some point, especially if the Kings stumble out of the gate.

    Murray gives this lineup a lot of upside, as he should be an immediate starter as a rookie who can score, rebound and defend multiple positions.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Josh Primo

    SG: Devin Vassell

    SF: Keldon Johnson

    PF: Doug McDermott

    C: Jakob Pöltl

    Sixth Man: Josh Richardson

    This is a tough lineup to predict, as Johnson and Pöltl are probably the only locks to make the starting five.

    Primo seems like the point guard of the future moving forward, but he has big shoes to fill following two decades of Tony Parker and Dejounte Murray. He's still just 19 despite entering his sophomore season and has terrific size (6'6") for the position.

    McDermott, Richardson and Pöltl will be hot names around the trade deadline, especially with the latter two now playing on expiring contracts.

    There's some intriguing young talent on this roster that features three 2022 first-round picks, players who will inevitably get more run once more veterans are traded away.

Toronto Raptors

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    Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Fred VanVleet

    SG: Gary Trent Jr.

    SF: OG Anunoby

    PF: Scottie Barnes

    C: Pascal Siakam

    Sixth Man: Otto Porter Jr.

    The most used opening lineup in the NBA last season, head coach Nick Nurse loves his starters. Maybe too much.

    The addition of Porter will help ease the workload, as he can play and defend either forward position and is coming off a championship run with the Golden State Warriors.

    Siakam, VanVleet and Barnes could all be All-Stars this year if Toronto's record is good enough, and Anunoby is one of the best wing defenders in the league.

Utah Jazz

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    Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Mike Conley Jr.

    SG: Collin Sexton

    SF: Malik Beasley

    PF: Lauri Markkanen

    C: Jarred Vanderbilt

    Sixth Man: Talen Horton-Tucker

    This lineup could look very different after the February trade deadline, as Conley, Beasley and possibly even Markkanen could be moved for the right price.

    If Sexton is healthy and has the green light, he could average over 25 points per game this season and make Jazz fans (at least momentarily) forget about Donovan Mitchell, while Markkanen proved he can play either forward position last year. Horton-Tucker could take a leap while getting a bigger opportunity and more on-ball time.

    Vanderbilt doesn't have the upside of those two, but he's a strong rebounder and defender who should quickly draw the admiration of Utah fans.

Washington Wizards

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    Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

    Projected Starting Lineup:

    PG: Monte Morris

    SG: Bradley Beal

    SF: Deni Avdija

    PF: Kyle Kuzma

    C: Kristaps Porzingis

    Sixth Man: Will Barton

    The starting small forward job will be the one to watch here, as head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said the spot is "wide open" entering training camp. Players like Avdija, Barton, Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert could all stake their claims for the job. Of the four, Avdija is the most intriguing option given his scoring, playmaking and defensive abilities.

    Beal will once again have to be near the league scoring leaders for the Wizards to have a chance at making the playoffs, and Porzingis' durability will forever be a concern even if he could thrive as a floor-spacing, rim-protecting center.

    The addition of Morris at point guard seems more like a Band-Aid when the position truly needed surgery, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Washington make a run at a player like Mike Conley Jr. or another floor general who comes available.

    There are a lot of wings and forwards on this roster but no clear All-Star outside of Beal to truly elevate Washington into the top of the East.


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