Ranking Every NBA Starting Lineup Post-Trade Deadline

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2022

Ranking Every NBA Starting Lineup Post-Trade Deadline

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The trade deadline has come and gone. The All-Star break is around the corner. And with the NBA rounding toward the home stretch of the 2021-22 season, it's time to take stock of each team's starting five.

    A truly objective ranking is borderline impossible. Plenty of groups have yet to log a minute together, so you can't rank 30 lineups by net rating (net points per 100 possessions). An appeal to individual advanced numbers is tough too since some players who'll likely enter lineups soon haven't played this season.

    The ranking below will be largely subjective (though the indicators mentioned above were consulted). Ditto for who's included in some of these lineups.

    Plenty are obvious. For example, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics both have starting fives that have been mostly intact all season. Others require some guesswork, thanks either to new acquisitions or potential returns from injury.

    Some will quibble with names included here or there, but that will always happen in an exercise like this.

    With all that preliminary information out of the way, let's dive into the order.


    All stats accurate through Sunday's games and courtesy of Cleaning the Glass, Basketball Reference, NBA.com, Stathead and PBP Stats.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Nate Billings/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

    Net Rating: -17.6 (2nd percentile)

    With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sidelined till at least mid-February and the Oklahoma City Thunder still smack-dab in the middle of their own "Process," we may not see much of this lineup the rest of the way.

    Until OKC officially shuts SGA down, though, we'll assume this is the healthy starting five.

    Between Josh Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, there's plenty of playmaking. And though his efficiency is far from good (or even average), few could've predicted Luguentz Dort would average 17-plus points in his third season when the Thunder signed him as an undrafted free agent.

    The next goal should be adding size in the frontcourt over the next couple of years (Giddey leads the team in rebounding at 7.7 per game).

29. Detroit Pistons

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart

    Net Rating: -9.8 (12th percentile)

    Replacing Killian Hayes with Cory Joseph seems to have stabilized the minutes of Detroit's starting five (swap Hayes for Joseph, and that net rating plummets to minus-20.0). Since he entered the lineup, Joseph is averaging 9.0 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from three.

    But the more important long-term consideration is how Cunningham plays with Hayes. The 2021 No. 1 pick is averaging 20.0 points, 5.1 assists and 3.0 threes per 75 possessions while shooting 40.9 percent from three when Hayes is on the floor. When Hayes is off, those Cunningham numbers move to 15.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.4 threes per 75 possessions with a 23.1 three-point percentage.

    Hayes still can't score, but his playmaking clearly helps Cunningham. And his size (6'5") makes him a good theoretical fit in switch-heavy lineups with Cunningham, Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey.

    Despite the bad group numbers, Detroit might need to go back to Hayes in this lineup before the season starts. Losses aren't the worst thing in the world right now.

28. New York Knicks

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson

    Net Rating: -13.4 (4th percentile)

    The New York Knicks' starting five has been a disaster. Unequivocally, a disaster.

    The net rating alone doesn't illustrate how bad this group has been. Or, in other words, how much damage they've been allowed to inflict on the Knicks' season.

    Coach Tom Thibodeau has played this lineup for 428 minutes. Only three lineups in the league have logged more time together. All that playing time has helped them establish their spot at 12,609th (or dead last) in total plus-minus.

    Whether it's the dreadful scoring inefficiency of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle or the defensive liabilities of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, this lineup doesn't work.

    And aside from an early-season benching of Walker, Thibodeau has shown little desire to deviate.

27. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, CJ Elleby, Justise Winslow and Jusuf Nurkic

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    With Damian Lillard out and the Portland Trail Blazers fresh off a roster overhaul, it's impossible to predict which lineup will start the most games going forward. We'll go with the one that was deployed in Portland's first game after all the moves were finalized.

    Woo boy, it was a far cry from what the Blazers have been for most of the Dame era.

    The rest of the season figures to be Simons' showcase for restricted free agency. Can he do enough to warrant a return as Lillard's full-time backcourt mate? Or has the Blazers front office seen enough of the two-small-guards construction?

26. Houston Rockets

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, Jalen Green, Jae'Sean Tate and Christian Wood

    Net Rating: -0.4 (48th percentile)

    This lineup isn't as young as you think. Yes, Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are 20 and 21, respectively, but the rest of the group is made up of veterans. And that includes 26-year-old Jae'Sean Tate.

    It should come as little surprise that the point differential of this lineup indicates, at the very least, competence. And when you take the rookie out of the mix, the net rating skyrockets to plus-18.3.

    Of course, there's no good reason to make that adjustment to the lineup. On-court reps are important for Green. So is developing chemistry between him and KPJ.

    Short-term competitiveness is not worth sacrificing the long-term gains that could come from Green taking his basketball lumps now.

25. Washington Wizards

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: Raul Neto, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Bradley Beal is out for the rest of the season. Spencer Dinwiddie is gone. And the Washington Wizards stand on the precipice of the Kristaps Porzingis era. Yes, the Kristaps Porzingis era.

    After essentially being salary-dumped by the Dallas Mavericks (they didn't save much in terms of duration and money, but they got two more movable deals in exchange for Porzingis' single albatross), KP will have a chance to be a clear No. 1 for the remainder of 2021-22.

    The rest of this group, especially Kyle Kuzma, will have its moments, but (assuming health) many of the scoring opportunities will fall to Porzingis.

    That's a pretty big assumption. Porzingis has struggled to stay healthy in all but his rookie season. But if that issue is resolved, he and Beal could have an interesting two-man game next season.

    No, it won't be as potent as Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, as coach Wes Unseld Jr. suggested, but the fit makes more sense than Beal and Dinwiddie.

24. Indiana Pacers

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Tyrese Haliburton, Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte, Oshae Brissett and Myles Turner

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    There's some question as to who will start at the 4 for the Indiana Pacers, but Oshae Brissett got the assignment on Friday and Sunday. We'll assume he stays going forward.

    The other question is whether Rick Carlisle continues to start rookie Chris Duarte on the wing. The other candidate is Buddy Hield, who just came over in the Domantas Sabonis trade.

    If he really wanted to have some fun (at least on offense), Carlisle could go with Tyrese Haliburton, Malcolm Brogdon, Duarte and Hield on the perimeter, with Myles Turner as the only big.

    A set starting five might not be in the cards for this team. Whatever it is from night to night, the group should have a decent amount of playmaking.

23. Orlando Magic

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba

    Net Rating: +2.2 (63rd percentile)

    The Orlando Magic rank 28th in the league in overall net rating. They're firmly in the hunt for the top pick in this summer's draft. That this starting lineup somehow has a positive differential should be exciting for Magic fans.

    The average age of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba is just over 21. Their skill sets complement one another well, and their rookie-scale contracts give Orlando offseason flexibility that few other teams have.

    Whether they give this core another year or two to grow together or move for a veteran to supplement them this summer, the Magic have one of the game's more underrated young foundations in place.

22. Sacramento Kings

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Justin Holiday, Harrison Barnes and Domantas Sabonis

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    There was a lot of handwringing over the Sacramento Kings' decision to include Tyrese Haliburton in a trade that landed Domantas Sabonis. While the young guard has plenty of potential, multiple All-Star appearances are far from guaranteed.

    Sabonis, on the other hand, has made two All-Star Games. He's played like a top-15 to top-20 player throughout 2021-22. He joined the Kings and instantly became their best player. And though it's early, it looks like there's some natural chemistry between Sabonis and De'Aaron Fox.

    Harrison Barnes seems like a natural fit as a floor-spacing 4 alongside those two. Then there's some guesswork on the last two spots.

    Holiday has been a starter on various teams for most of the last five seasons. We'll shoehorn him in since it's a role he should be accustomed to. That leaves the 6'2" rookie, Mitchell.

    He and Fox would make up one of the game's smaller backcourts, but Mitchell plays bigger than he is, especially on defense. Jeremy Lamb, Donte DiVincenzo and maybe even Maurice Harkless are all contenders for that last spot, but more on-court reps for Mitchell feels like a solid long-term play.

21. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    The Los Angeles Clippers' chances of doing anything of significance depends on the health of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

    The former is "probably not" coming back this season, according to coach Tyronn Lue. The latter could be a ways away too. If both miss the rest of the season, L.A.'s starting lineup has lower prospects, but we'll err on the side of optimism and say at least PG returns.

    If that's the case, the Clippers could be competitive in the play-in tournament. We saw the George-and-role-players formula work better than expected in the 2021 playoffs, and now the cast around him is better.

    Norman Powell, Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson all have lots of experience in the three-and-D role. Ivica Zubac has started throughout most of his Clippers tenure, which includes plenty of playoff minutes.

20. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, Austin Reaves, LeBron James and Anthony Davis

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Frank Vogel can't seem to make up his mind about who should start for the Los Angeles Lakers, so this is the one team for which we'll just make the call.

    As tempting as it is to pull the plug on the Russell Westbrook experiment, bringing him off the bench isn't going to happen. We'll stick with Russ at the 1 and try to find the players who make the most sense in each spot from there.

    With spacing limited by Westbrook's lack of shooting, you almost have to start LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the 4 and 5. L.A.'s minus-1.9 points per 100 possessions ranks 21st in the league, but it creeps up to 0.0 when those two are in their correct positions.

    Add Austin Reaves to that mix, and the net rating climbs again, this time to plus-3.3. Reaves' three-point percentage has plummeted over the last month, but he showed enough early in the season to force defenders to pay attention to him outside.

    Finally, there's Malik Monk, one of the lone bright spots of this season for L.A. For the second straight season, he's taking at least 5.0 threes per game and shooting at least 40 percent from deep. In a lineup that features two of the least efficient jumpers in the NBA (those of Westbrook and Davis), that shooting is crucial.

19. San Antonio Spurs

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    Adam Hagy/Getty Images

    Starting Lineup: Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl

    Net Rating: +5.9 (80th percentile)

    Following a trade deadline in which they looked an awful lot like sellers, the San Antonio Spurs won back-to-back road games by double digits with this starting five.

    Sure, the opponents (the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans) were both below .500, but it was easier to see a direction with this group than it's been for much of the last two seasons.

    Jakob Poeltl's range doesn't extend outside the paint. And though Dejounte Murray takes threes, he's much better when attacking the rim. Surrounding those two with the shooting provided by Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Doug McDermott (who've combined to shoot 40.5 percent from three) makes sense.

18. Charlotte Hornets

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Mason Plumlee

    Net Rating: -1.4 (43rd percentile)

    It sure feels like the Charlotte Hornets starting five should've had a better first half of the season.

    LaMelo Ball is an All-Star. Gordon Hayward is a former All-Star. Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier are both averaging close to 20 points per game. And Ball, Hayward and Mason Plumlee are all plus passers for their positions.

    But the offense for that group has been flat-out bad (106.9 points per 100 possessions). Newly acquired center Montrezl Harrell (27th in the NBA in offensive box plus/minus over the last five seasons) could inject some juice into that group, but then it'd likely have a new batch of worries on the other end of the floor.

    The likelier course is trying to figure things out with the five who've started most of the team's games this season.

17. Atlanta Hawks

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela

    Net Rating: +1.4 (59th percentile)

    You can probably guess the indicators for this bunch without even reading them.

    When Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela are on the floor, the Atlanta Hawks score 116.5 points per 100 possessions. The problem is that they give up 115.1.

    There's little, if any, point-of-attack defense in this lineup. Theoretically, Hunter should provide some, but injuries and inconsistency have limited his impact on that end. Though Capela has had solid defensive seasons in the past, he's not a Rudy Gobert-esque rim protector who can erase a multitude of defensive sins.

    That leaves an attack led by Young and Collins with the responsibility of winning shootouts on most nights.

16. New Orleans Pelicans

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Devonte' Graham, CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones and Jonas Valanciunas

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    On Thursday, New Orleans Pelicans executive David Griffin said there's no timetable for when Zion Williamson might return.

    Given the way the situation has unfolded since Griffin expressed optimism that Williamson would be ready for this season's opening night, it's hard to have much hope for a return.

    That means New Orleans will probably keep starting rookie Herbert Jones at the 4. And with the addition of CJ McCollum, the Pelicans might have enough to push for the play-in tournament, with or without Zion.

    This season, New Orleans is plus-7.2 points per 100 possessions when Devonte' Graham, Brandon Ingram, Jones and Jonas Valanciunas are on the floor.

15. Dallas Mavericks

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Jalen Brunson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd could go a couple of different ways after his team traded Kristaps Porzingis for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

    The likelier outcome might be staying big and starting Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell in the frontcourt. The more fun option is going small, loading up on playmaking and sparing Luka Doncic of the assignment to defend guards.

    Doncic, of course, would still engineer the vast majority of Dallas' possessions, but having multiple playmakers might give him a shot at a few more off-ball opportunities, much like he has when playing for the Slovenia national team.

14. Toronto Raptors

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    Nate Billings/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam

    Net Rating: +3.8 (70th percentile)

    The Toronto Raptors' starting five has found a groove of late. The team is 8-1 in its last nine, and it's gotten contributions from each one of the five above during the run.

    • Pascal Siakam: 26.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 42.4 3PT%
    • Gary Trent Jr.: 25.0 PPG, 4.3 3PG, 45.9 3PT%
    • Fred VanVleet: 21.1 PPG, 7.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, 4.6 3PG, 43.5 3PT%
    • Scottie Barnes: 15.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 40.0 3PT%
    • OG Anunoby: 14.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 40.4 3PT%

    Obviously, that kind of balance and efficiency won't last the rest of the season. A nine-game run is just that. One or more players could be in for a cold streak. But what these few weeks have revealed is a ceiling many may not have anticipated for this year's Raptors.

13. Chicago Bulls

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Javonte Green, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic

    Net Rating: +0.9 (55th percentile)

    The Chicago Bulls' best lineup is the one above but with Alex Caruso in place of Javonte Green. That group is plus-20.6 points per 100 possessions, but coach Billy Donovan didn't show much interest in starting it.

    So, even after the return of Caruso and Lonzo Ball from injuries, Green seems like a safe bet to be the fifth starter. Nothing else is in question.

    When healthy, the Bulls can deploy a balance of offense and defense that few teams around the league can.

    Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic are averaging 3.6 to 5.1 assists per game. DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic are capable of going off for 30-plus. The former two do so regularly. And Ball is one of the game's best ball-movers.

    Regardless of who the fifth guy is, those four give Chicago a chance to be competitive against just about anyone.

12. Phoenix Suns

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton

    Net Rating: +8.0 (88th percentile)

    In terms of general health, the Phoenix Suns have been incredibly fortunate. This lineup doesn't just lead the NBA in minutes logged, its 588 is more than 100 clear of second place.

    Of course, they deserve credit for taking advantage. Even healthy teams are prone to letdowns, and the Suns really haven't suffered any prolonged ones.

    After dropping back-to-back games early in the season, they rattled off 18 straight. Now, after their only other two-game losing streak, they've won 20 of 23.

    Such consistency is the product of a lineup that is balanced, versatile and led by one of the greatest point guards of all time.

    So, why isn't it in the top 10? Beyond what you'll see from the remaining lineups in terms of net rating, this team has been a staple at the top of our weekly power rankings because of great depth. The starting lineup sets the tone, but the high level at which the reserves play is what pushes the Suns.

11. Denver Nuggets

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Jamal Murray hasn't played a minute this season. Michael Porter Jr. managed only 265 before he left the rotation for a procedure on his back. And, leading up to that move, it was clear something was bothering him.

    Now, it sounds like both could be back soon.

    "It's up to them," Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Vic Lombardi on Altitude Sports Radio of Murray and MPJ's chances of returning. "We're going to clear them at some point in the not too distant future, and then they have to determine when and if they're ready."

    Denver is plus-9.1 points per 100 possessions when Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Will Barton are on the floor. If it can add two top-40-50 players to that mix and get them acclimated prior to the postseason, the Nuggets will have one of the game's best lineups.

    What keeps it outside the top 10 is the mystery of how those returning players will look after significant injuries.

10. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Darius Garland, Caris LeVert, Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Earlier this season, there was some head scratching over the Cleveland Cavaliers' decision to add Lauri Markkanen to a frontcourt that already included Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. There was a little more when we learned Markkanen would start at the 3. But Cleveland's play pretty much out of the gate saved all those scalps.

    And now, two-thirds of the way into the season, there's plenty of evidence to suggest the jumbo frontcourt works. Cleveland is plus-8.4 points per 100 possessions when Allen, Mobley and Markkanen are on the floor.

    And, following the acquisition of Caris LeVert, it looks like it has a longterm backcourt that could provide the firepower needed to balance the lineup.

    LeVert hasn't had an above-average true shooting percentage since his rookie season, but his volume scoring should take some pressure off the other options and boost an offense that ranks 20th.

    As for Darius Garland, who was recently named to his first All-Star Game, averages of 20.1 points, 8.0 assists and 2.5 threes only begin to tell the story. His abilities to read defenses and control the pace of the game have been among the most important reasons for Cleveland's better-than-expected 2021-22.

9. Utah Jazz

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O'Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert

    Net Rating: +15.2 (99th percentile)

    Everyone who was ready to bury the Utah Jazz after a dreadful 4-12 January seemed to conveniently ignore the fact that Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell appeared in only four games together that month.

    When this starting five is healthy, it is absolutely dominant, particularly on the offensive end.

    With Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O'Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert on the floor, the Jazz score a whopping 123.7 points per 100 possessions with a 60.6 effective field-goal percentage.

    Conley and Mitchell's abilities to create out of the pick-and-roll, O'Neale's and Bogdanovic's abilities to attack closeouts and the shooting of all of the above make this lineup a nightmare on the perimeter. And the rim-running of Gobert pulls defenders away from the others.

8. Milwaukee Bucks

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    John McCoy/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis

    Net Rating: +13.0 (97th percentile)

    As long as the core of the championship-winning starting five is in the game, the Milwaukee Bucks can beat anyone. What makes them feel like a fairly safe bet to win the Eastern Conference again is the contributions of the other two.

    After back-to-back solid seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Grayson Allen is averaging a career-high 11.6 points, while shooting 39.3 percent from three. When Middleton and Holiday missed time earlier in the season, his floor spacing was crucial for keeping perimeter defenders honest when Giannis Antetokounmpo went to the rim.

    Bobby Portis, meanwhile, doesn't provide the rim protection that Brook Lopez did in previous years, but he's probably an upgrade on offense.

    Last season, Lopez averaged 15.9 points and 1.7 threes per 75 possessions, with a 0.0 offensive box plus/minus. This season, Portis is putting up 19.5 points and 2.5 threes per 75 possessions, with a 1.5 offensive box plus/minus.

7. Miami Heat

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker and Bam Adebayo

    Net Rating: +15.3 (99th percentile)

    Jimmy Butler has missed 19 games. Bam Adebayo has missed 25. Their injuries are a big part of why the Miami Heat's starting lineup has only appeared together in 19 games.

    When they're available, they play like a juggernaut.

    Miami is 14-5 (a 60-win pace) in those 19 games, with a stifling defense that allows just 92.4 points per 100 possessions. For context, the Golden State Warriors' top-ranked defense gives up 105.3 per 100.

    There's a combination of tenacity, switchability and experience in that Butler-Adebayo-P.J. Tucker frontcourt that no team can match. And when Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry are hitting from the outside and Butler is engineering possessions, the Heat have enough firepower to back up that crushing defense.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams

    Net Rating: +18.0 (99th percentile)

    The Memphis Grizzlies haven't had many chances to play at full strength. This lineup has only appeared in eight games and has just 156 non-garbage time possessions.

    But the individual play of each member of the lineup suggests the net rating will stay high (though maybe not that high) when Dillon Brooks likely returns from an ankle injury in March.

    Ja Morant is a fringe MVP candidate, Desmond Bane is playing like a Klay Thompson, the defense in Jaren Jackson Jr.'s three-and-D game has never been better, and Steven Adams is the steady presence in the middle keeping everyone on an even keel and leading the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage.

    Brooks' own tenacity on defense, as well as his desire to take and make big shots, will fit right in with the other four.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: D'Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt and Karl-Anthony Towns

    Net Rating: +23.5 (100th percentile)

    From a purely statistical perspective, the Minnesota Timberwolves probably deserve to be a little higher.

    Among all five-man lineups with at least 200 minutes, this group is second in net points per 100 possessions, first in points scored per 100 and ninth in points allowed per 100.

    With D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns averaging 19.1 to 24.1 points per game, there is plenty of firepower in this lineup. And Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt are exactly the kind of complementary, defense-first, "don't care about touches" players needed to round things out.

4. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Bringing in James Harden cost the Philadelphia 76ers some depth, but it's not hard to see why they made the move.

    Ben Simmons was giving them nothing. And it looked like he'd continue to give them nothing for the rest of the season. Swapping him for Harden, who's tied for 20th in offensive box plus/minus, is a giant helping of basketball gravy.

    Losing Seth Curry and Andre Drummond hurt, but hanging on to Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia's most intriguing young talents, certainly softened the blow.

    Now, Joel Embiid has a first-ballot Hall of Famer to take some pressure off him in another MVP-caliber season.

    He isn't peak Houston Rockets Harden, but he's averaging 10.2 assists per game and still reads the pick-and-roll as well as anyone in the game. If he can learn how to make an impact off the ball (Embiid will surely still control plenty of possessions), the 76ers will be title contenders.

3. Brooklyn Nets

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Andre Drummond

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Over the last two seasons, the Brooklyn Nets are plus-10.2 points per 100 possessions when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are on the floor without James Harden. And now, those lineups will get a serious injection of talent.

    The rest of this presumed starting five is made up of the three players who came from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Harden trade: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond.

    As fun as the idea of Simmons as a point center is, it's hard to imagine coach Steve Nash starting games that way. 

    And while it makes sense to surround Simmons with as much shooting as possible, LaMarcus Aldridge has started only 11 of his 36 appearances this season.

    That suggests Drummond could make a return to the role of a starter. And in a lineup with KD, Curry and Kyrie, he should get plenty of bunnies.

    Guarding a perimeter that includes those three shooters will be a nightmare, even if the other two spots are occupied by players whose range caps out at a few feet.

2. Boston Celtics

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams III

    Net Rating: +26.1 (100th percentile)

    After a couple of months of consternation over the up-and-down play of the Boston Celtics, they seem to have settled in, thanks in large part to a dominant starting five that features a little bit of everything.

    Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are volume-scoring wings who cover a lot of ground defensively. Marcus Smart is a solid passer who can shut down opposing guards. Al Horford can playmake a bit, can pull opposing bigs out of the paint with his shooting and offers a wealth of defensive experience. And Robert Williams III is a high-flying rim-runner with an underrated passing game.

    When all five are together, this balanced group is devastating, particularly on the defensive end, where it's allowing a league-best 90.9 points per 100 possessions.

1. Golden State Warriors

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    Kyle Phillips/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney

    Net Rating: N/A (not enough possessions)

    Losing Draymond Green on the first night Klay Thompson was back on an NBA floor in two-plus seasons has prevented us from seeing any action from this lineup. So, we're still analyzing this bunch through a bit of a theoretical lens.

    We certainly know how effective the top three of Stephen Curry, Green and Thompson was prior to Klay's injuries, though. Kevon Looney has experience with those three. And Andrew Wiggins' ascendence to the type of player who can thrive in this system while Thompson was out eliminated a mystery there too.

    For the Golden State Warriors and their fans, who waited so long for Klay to come back, the next few weeks are about patiently waiting for Draymond's return.