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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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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Parting with Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers shows how badly Wizards needed someone like Trevor Ariza

Parting with Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers shows how badly Wizards needed someone like Trevor Ariza

The Washington Wizards this season have lacked plenty of things, but three stand out above all: defense, rebounding and leadership. On Saturday, they made a trade aiming to address all of the above, and they paid a hefty price to do so.

In comes Trevor Ariza, a 33-year-old veteran who needs no introduction in Washington. He returns to the organization four years after leaving in free agency. He already has experience playing alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

Out the door are two key members of the Wizards rotation. They shipped Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix, stripping them of their backup shooting guard and small forward and two players averaging over 23 minutes per game this season.

The Wizards are giving up quite a bit. Rivers, though he has struggled this season, was brought in just months ago to solve their problems at backup shooting guard. Now Beal is the only true shooting guard on their roster. That should help Tomas Satoransky earn a more solidified role.

Oubre was a first round pick in 2015 and the Wizards could have made him a restricted free agent this summer. At times over the past two-plus years, he appeared to be one of their most attractive trade assets based on his youth and contract, someone who could net more than an Ariza-type.

But with a desperate need for what Ariza provides, the Wizards had to make a difficult decision. They are banking on him having a similar impact to what he gave them in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, when the Wizards were at their best defensively in the Wall era.

Whether he can still be the same player, or something close to it, remains to be seen. Back in his first tenure in D.C., he was playing through his age 27 and 28 seasons. The latter was a contract year and happened to include the best numbers of his career.

Now, he's 33 and arriving in Washington with a 37.9 field goal percentage. He is also making $15 million this season and set to be a free agent next summer.

Even though Oubre and Rivers were on expiring deals, this is a play for the short-term. Ariza is much later in his career than they are and isn't under contract beyond this season. Plus, bringing him in saves the Wizards a bit over $2 million when accounting for the luxury tax.

Their hope is that he will help shore up the perimeter. The Wizards are 27th in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage and Ariza has long been good at disrupting outside shooters.

The Wizards want rebounding and, though Ariza is not a big man, he is adept on the glass. Washington ranks 28th in rebounding and 29th in opponent rebounding. Ariza comes in averaging 5.6 per game.

The Wizards may also see a benefit from a team chemistry perspective. Ariza is familiar with the locker room leadership structure having played in Washington before. He is a respected veteran and can help set a more blue-collar tone on defense.

Ariza, when he's at his best, is a very valuable player. Even with his field goal percentage down, Ariza is shooting a respectable 36 percent from three and averaging 1.5 steals per game.

It's clear the Wizards desperately wanted Ariza by the way this trade went down. Not only did they part with two key rotation members, but they took a deal that didn't involve draft picks. When the reports first broke on Friday night, the Wizards were expected to receive more compensation in the way of second round picks.

The biggest impact of this trade as this season plays out may involve the Wizards' depth. Though they got a nice player in Ariza, they parted with two core members of their second unit and left an open roster spot they have to fill. If the Wizards go with an inexpensive option to fill the 14th spot, like they did with Okaro White and Chasson Randle, their roster will be even more top-heavy.

The disappointing start to the Wizards' season clearly has them weighing their long-term options. Oubre wasn't in the plans, and they want to save their season, along with some money. In comes Ariza, hoping to give the Wizards what they have been desperately be lacking.

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Wizards completing new trade to directly acquire Trevor Ariza from Suns, source confirms

Wizards completing new trade to directly acquire Trevor Ariza from Suns, source confirms

The Washington Wizards are set to trade Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Trevor Ariza, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

News of the newly structured deal for Ariza comes after a whirlwind night of trade reports that initially had Ariza slated to end up in Washington before a miscommunication about the players involved ultimately scuttled a three-team deal between the Wizards, Grizzlies and Suns.

Effectively, the Wizards are poised to do the deal without involvement from Memphis.

The veteran Ariza signed a 1-year, $15-million deal with Phoenix as a free agent this offseason. He is set to come to Washington for his second stint, after having played for the Wizards from 2012 to 2014.

This story is developing. Check back to NBCSportsWashington.com and the MyTeams app for more.

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