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Ranking the NBA's best starting fives: Where do the Wizards rank?

Ranking the NBA's best starting fives: Where do the Wizards rank?

With the mad rush of NBA free agency behind us, we finally have the chance to take a look at what the core of every NBA team will look like next year. 

Sure, there can be more changes, but most of the big names are off the market and now we have an idea of what everyone's starting five will generally look like.

The Wizards starting lineup won't look any different, but that's not a bad thing. Especially coming off of a playoff year and having the confidence of their owner, Ted Leonsis, heading into this coming season.

At the Wizards' press conference for Otto Porter and his new max deal, Leonsis sat down with CSN Mid-Atlantic's Chris Miller, and said he thinks the Wizards have one of the best starting fives in the NBA.

So naturally, SportsTalk Live did exactly what you should do when you hear a statement like this, and looked at where the Wizards' starting five would rank in the NBA. (YOU CAN WATCH THE STL TOP 5 VIDEO IN THE ABOVE PLAYER)

Obviously, we leave the two Finals teams, the Cavs and Warriors, out of this discussion, otherwise it's not any fun. After that though, there's a lot of potential around the NBA when it comes to the next wave of good starting lineups in the league. 

Here's the NBA's best starting fives after Cleveland and Golden State, based on what the projected, fully healthy, groups are as of now. 


5. Milwaukee Bucks

The debate here was between the Bucks and Thunder. Adding Paul George to the mix with a league MVP makes the Thunder much better,  but the 3 others are all role players that don't compare to what Milwaukee has quietly put together, after winning 42 games last year.

The biggest star is obviously Giannis Antetokounmpo, and even if you can't spell or pronounce his name, you have to recognize he's a future league MVP. Throw in Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, who started 28 games last year and looks to be coach Jason Kidd's secondary ball handler after the Greek Freak. Khris Middleton missed most of last year with an injury, but looked good when he came back last year, and is a great shooter and scorer if they use him at the 3 to start. 

Jabari Parker is likely going to miss some time to start the season, but when healthy, he's a major talent that the Bucks have added to this group. Yes, the problem is his health, but we're looking at fully healthy lineups for all these teams, so we're keeping him in there.

At center, is where the biggest non-health question is. Do they go with the young, but major upside talent in Thon Maker? Or do they go back to Greg Monroe, who's pretty much been in trade rumors since they signed him.

Either way, despite not being as flashy as what Oklahoma City did in terms of adding Paul George's star power, the drop off after the best two players for the Bucks is far less than what the Thunder have going for them.

They're still another star away from contending, but with that balance and potential they have in place, watch out for the Bucks this season. 


4. Boston Celtics

The Celtics will look a little different this season. Boston's roster as a whole has just six returning players: Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. Of course, adding Gordon Hayward was kind of a big deal.

The question is, what type of lineup do they plan on using? Brad Stevens told the Associated Press recently "I don’t have the five positions anymore. It may be as simple as three positions now, where you’re either a ball-handler, a wing or a big."

So do they go Thomas, Hayward, Crowder, newly acquired Marcus Morris, and Horford? Or do they add Rozier at shooting guard,  and put Hayward at the 3 instead. What about rookie Jayson Tatum? He's already being compared to Celtics legend Paul Pierce. When does he crack the starting lineup?

With all the questions, there also means a learning curve when it comes to chemistry. Obviously, the talent is there in Boston, but it may take some time for Stevens to figure out exactly what five guys work best together to start games. 


3. Washington Wizards

This is where talent and chemistry come together.

The Wizards return the same starting five that helped get them a win away from the Conference Finals last season. With their constant questions when it came to depth, the group of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat carried this team to 49 wins and a major step forward last year. 

Continuity is something that's hard to come by in the NBA, especially with free agency as aggressive as it's been in recent years. Having this core together again, with their past experience and established talent, gives the Wizards a lineup that can't be overlooked anymore around the league.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Who isn't excited to watch them this year? Arguably the most talented outside of the Warriors or Cavs, youth is what still has this starting five in a position where they need to prove themselves. Expectations were high last year, and after winning just 31 games, Minnesota went out and added the veteran leadership and All-Star talent they needed to mix with the young core they already have. 

Obviously, Jimmy Butler is a major difference maker, but don't overlook point guard Jeff Teague. His playoff experience and leadership will be a major benefit to the young core of Andrew Wiggins and, the future best big man in the NBA, Karl Anthony-Towns. Gorgui Dieng often gets overlooked, but if he earns the starting power forward spot over Taj Gibson, he should take a major leap forward this season as well. 

1. Houston Rockets

Adding Chris Paul to an already potent lineup in Houston sent the NBA world into a temporary state of shock. Obviously, the question remains as to whether or not Paul and James Harden and split ball-handling duties like coach Mike D'Antoni seems to plan on doing. That being said, there's a tremendous amount of talent coming at you this year when you see the Rockets. Add in Trevor Ariza, who brings defense to the lineup,  Ryan Anderson (unless he's traded) and his stretch-4 abilities, and Clint Capela's continued growth on both ends of the floor, and you have a team in Houston that as the potential to at least put a scare into the Warriors out west.

Now, if they add Carmelo Anthony on top of this, things get even more compelling in Houston.


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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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