Every NBA Franchise’s All-Time Starting 5
Players were placed on teams based upon an imperfect combination of several factors including impact on the franchise, length of tenure, and overall skill. In order to build the best starting fives possible, lineups were assembled with positions as more of a loose idea. You will see a number of players playing one spot up or down from their natural position (i.e. Olajuwon and Kareem playing power forward).
***For entertainment and discussion purposes, players were only allowed to represent one franchise***
30. New Orleans Pelicans: Jrue Holiday-Eric Gordon-Tyreke Evans-David West-Anthony Davis
6th Man: P.J. Brown
Since we can only use players who have played for the newly established Pelicans franchise, we don’t have a whole lot of choices to select from. Considering that we’ve actually seen the trio of Evans, Gordon, and Davis play together (winning just 30 games together in 2016), the All-Time New Orleans team would struggle to make the playoffs in the current NBA, let alone compete against the greatest teams ever assembled. West and Holiday provide some needed toughness, but more than likely, AD is requesting a trade halfway through our fictional season.
29. Milwaukee Bucks: Sidney Moncrief-Michael Redd-Giannis Antetokounmpo-Marques Johnson-Bob Lanier
6th Man: Bob Dandridge
Unfortunately for the Bucks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar changed his name from Lew Alcindor and won five of his six championships in Los Angeles, severely hurting the All-Time Bucks lineup. Still, the opportunity for Giannis to dish the ball around to four skilled scorers sounds like a good recipe here. The Bucks are long and versatile — both key attributes in a scenario such as this one.
28. Brooklyn Nets: Jason Kidd-Drazen Petrovic-Richard Jefferson-Derrick Coleman-Brook Lopez
6th Man: Buck Williams
Kidd runs the show with an eclectic cast of talents. He’s able to reunite with his old pal Richard Jefferson, and link up with the sharp-shooting Drazen Petrovic. A Kidd-Petrovic-RJ fastbreak is quick and skilled enough to upset a few teams. Both Coleman and Lopez were/are great talents, but their lack of end-to-end speed runs contrary to Kidd’s preferred style of play (although Lopez’s recent three-point shooting surge helps). It would be a fun team to watch if they get it going offensively, but this squad has too many average defenders outside of Kidd to truly do any damage.
27. Dallas Mavericks: Rolando Blackman-Michael Finley-Jamal Mashburn-Dirk Nowitzki-Tyson Chandler
6th Man: Jason Terry
Becoming a franchise in 1980, the Mavericks struggled early on. Rolando Blackman is the sole player to make the All-Time team from those early Dallas teams, making four All-Star appearances in his 11 years with the franchise. Dirk is a no-brainer, as he’s cemented his legacy as the face of the franchise with his 2011 playoff run. The rest of the lineup is tricky, as the Mavericks are known for constantly shuffling pieces around during the Mark Cuban era. Finley enjoyed his best scoring years during his nine seasons in Dallas – the most amount of time he spent with any organization. Jamal Mashburn fizzled out earlier in his career than most had hoped, but his early years with the Mavs were the pinnacle of his career. Chandler and Terry make the team for their contributions to the 2011 championship, and are excellent role players to surround Dirk with. The All-Time Mavs could potentially win a lot of games, but would need a Herculean effort from Dirk to stand a chance against the elite teams.
26. Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas-John Wall-Bradley Beal-Elvin Hayes-Wes Unseld
6th Man: Gus Johnson
Hayes and Unseld lead the Bullets/Wizards on a team that lacks any sort of identity. John Wall is a terrific young player, Beal has showed glimpses of All-NBA talent, and there was a point in the mid 2000’s when Arenas was making a strong case as the best player (offensively) in the league, but under the circumstances, it’s a bit of an underwhelming backcourt when compared to other teams. They would be fantastic defensively, but Arenas is the most reliable scoring option, and anytime Gilbert Arenas is your most reliable anything, you’re in some serious trouble.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul-Randy Smith-Blake Griffin-Elton Brand-Bob McAdoo
6th Man: DeAndre Jordan
The Paul-Griffin duo represented the Golden Age of the Clippers, making them virtual locks for this lineup. Smith and McAdoo were both elite talents that played for a number of bad Clipper teams. Elton Brand was a part of that transitional period that was responsible for the state the Clippers are in today. Griffin would have to slide into the 3 spot, which is a conceivable move for a player with his skill level, but dampens the spacing on the team. This team would almost exclusively need to work in transition, as a half-court set would feature too much clutter near the basket. They have enough talent at the guards and bigs to feature a solid inside-out game, but don’t have that elite wing you need to match up against the LeBron’s, Jordan’s and Kobe’s of the world.
24. Atlanta Hawks: Mookie Blaylock-Lou Hudson-Dominique Wilkins-Bob Pettit-Kevin Willis
6th Man: Joe Johnson
A tenacious defensive team, the All-Time Hawks squad would be a tough matchup for any team in our hypothetical league. Blaylock, Hudson, Pettit and Willis are all plus defenders, and the offense would be run almost exclusively through Wilkins isolations. Outside shooting would be an issue for the starting lineup, but is aided by the smooth stroke of Joe Johnson coming off the bench. If the Hawks could somehow steal Mutumbo from the Nuggets, they would surely be the best defensive team in the league.
23. Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker-Baron Davis-Gerald Wallace-Larry Johnson-Emeka Okafor
6th Man: Muggsy Bogues
For the Hornets, only players that played in franchises that were based in Charlotte were considered – thus the reasoning for adding in two Charlotte Bobcats (Wallace and Okafor). Davis found success on a number of teams, but his best years athletically were with the Hornets early on in his career. Walker boasts a modern game of driving and three-point shooting, while Bogues is a spark plug off the bench with his ball handling and tenacious defense. The forwards, Wallace and Johnson, would be an elite combo in today’s game, as Johnson is a talented scorer from all over the court and Wallace gives the ability to switch any unfavorable matchup with his elite athleticism. A young Okafor rounds out the starting five and brings solid paint protection and rebounding. This isn’t a team filed with stars, but it has players that would understand their role and contribute in a bevy of ways.
22. Denver Nuggets: Fat Lever-David Thompson-Kiki Vandeweghe-Alex English-Dikembe Mutombo
6th Man: Marcus Camby
One of the few teams in our hypothetical All-Time league that has every player playing at their best position gives the Nuggets a bit of a boost overall. Thompson, English and Vandeweghe create a juggernaut scoring trio, while Fat Lever, Dikembe and Camby are All-NBA defenders at their respective positions. This team can spread the floor, get to the basket, switch on screens, and run the fast break. The Nuggets boast a sneaky-good team that would be more than capable of beating any other team on a given night.
21. Miami Heat: Tim Hardaway-Dwyane Wade-Glen Rice-Udonis Haslem-Alonzo Mourning
6th Man: Eddie Jones
For a franchise that has only been in existence for less than 30 years, the Heat boast a surprisingly impressive lineup. Hardaway and Wade’s dribble penetration would wear on defenses, and Glen Rice and Eddie Jones spotting up for the kick out would challenge teams to pick their poison. Haslem makes the team based on his extended tenure and high energy, and with Alonzo Mourning protecting the paint, this Miami lineup would be no pushover defensively. Even without LeBron James or Chris Bosh, the All-Time Heat lineup could still dish out some damage.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan-Vince Carter-Chris Bosh-Jonas Valanciunas
6th Man: Morris Peterson
Featuring three players from 2017 – the best season in Raptors history – Toronto is just beginning to stake its claim in the history books. Lowry and DeRozan obviously have great chemistry together being good friends, and enjoyed sustained success together during their tenure in Toronto. Carter and Bosh are first ballot Hall of Famers who were individually at their best while playing for Toronto. Bosh’s range provides ample space for DeRozan and Carter to attack the rim. Although they would be fun to watch, they just aren’t quite deep enough to compete at a high level in an All-Time league.
19. Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley-Shane Battier-Shareef Abdur-Rahim-Pau Gasol-Marc Gasol
6th Man: Zach Randolph
A lineup that resembles a (far) more talented version of the Grit ‘n’ Grind Grizzlies, the All-Time Grizzlies would have great ball movement and be absolute pests defensively. Conley is able to just edge out both Jason Williams and Mike Bibby for the lead guard role, forming an elite defensive backcourt with Shane Battier. Abdur-Rahim is the purest scorer on the team and would get plenty of open looks from the excellent passing duo of the Gasol brothers. They wouldn’t have a great record, but they would compete each and every night.
18. Indiana Pacers: Mark Jackson-Reggie Miller-Paul George-Ron Artest- Jermaine O’Neal
6th Man: Detlef Schrempf
A backcourt from the 90’s and forwards from the 2000’s highlights a solid squad for the Pacers. We already know how well Jackson and Miller play off each other. George and Artest are destructive two-way players who can change the game on either side of the floor. A six-time All-Star with the Pacers, Jermaine O’Neal provides an effective post game and a smooth mid-range jump shot. The two-time Sixth Man of the Year Detlef Schrempf provides instant scoring off the bench, and paired with Miller, is one of the deadliest shooting combos conceivable. Just like the real Indiana Pacers, they would be great in the regular season, but come up just short against the elite teams.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Stephon Marbury-Wally Sczerbiak-Kevin Love-Kevin Garnett-Karl-Anthony-Towns
6th Man: Tom Gugliotta
An impressive frontcourt combo of KAT-Love-KG leads the All-Time T-Wolves team. All three can shoot, handle, and move like a guard, instantly creating matchup problems for any other team. Marbury and Szczerbiak would be a bit outmatched by most backcourts, but are both talented players in their own right and would have to play off of their talented big men. Defense would be an obvious issue, as the former Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Garnett, is the only plus defender in the lineup. Their strength would be spreading the floor, as no team would be equipped to guard the bigs on the perimeter, while still crashing the boards effectively. While vulnerable on defense, the T-Wolves have enough matchup advantages to compete against the best of the best.
16. Houston Rockets: Calvin Murphy-James Harden-Moses Malone-Hakeem Olajuwon-Yao Ming
6th Man: Otis Thorpe
The biggest and most physically imposing lineup out of all 30 franchises, Houston is littered with great talents who can fill up a stat sheet. Murphy and Harden are both excellent slashers. The Beard’s ability to spray the ball to his plethora of skilled teammates would make them a difficult guard. Hakeem and Yao would be a fun combo to watch, and they were both smart enough players to make it work. They would be physically imposing, but have too many holes to be an elite lineup.
15. Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas-Chauncey Billups-Joe Dumars-Rasheed Wallace-Ben Wallace
6th Man: Bill Laimbeer
If this exercise stretched to a 10-man roster, the Pistons would be one of the front-runners for the title. Guys like Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Dennis Rodman, Vinnie Johnson and Mark Aguirre are left off the team because there simply aren’t enough spots available. Thomas and Billups both brought a different style to the team, but their shared level of competitiveness would allow them to work together smoothly in the backcourt. We know first hand how great Ben and Sheed play together, and their ability to guard bigs and switch onto guards seamlessly provides tremendous value. Laimbeer adds a veteran presence off the bench, and an extra defender to match up with all of the great bigs in league history. Likely the shortest lineup out of all the teams, the All-Time Pistons would have to make up for their lack of size with their signature grit and toughness.
14. Sacramento Kings: Nate Archibald-Oscar Robertson-Peja Stojakovic-Chris Webber-Jerry Lucas
6th Man: Mitch Richmond
The triple-double machine Oscar Robertson headlines a very balanced Kings lineup. “Tiny” Archibald joins the Big O in the backcourt, forming a guard tandem that would compete on both sides of the floor. Peja and Richmond balance out the backcourt’s shooting deficiencies, and Chris Webber provides another ball handler that can create for himself as well as others. Jerry Lucas is one of the All-Time greats at the center position, but standing at only 6-foot-8, would struggle against some of the more modern centers in the league. The Kings could find some success with Robertson and Webber’s playmaking ability, but would be overmatched by several other teams.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers: Mark Price-Kyrie Irving-LeBron James-Larry Nance-Brad Daughtery
6th Man: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
A well-balanced team from top to bottom, a franchise that only has one championship in 45 years has one of the best lineups in the league. Price and Irving are both elite shooters, ball handlers and have the ability to play the point or as the off guard. LeBron’s contributions are well-known, and his versatility gives a great amount of flexibility on both sides of the floor. The three-man big rotation has a nice blend of shooting, defense and finishing ability to give enough room for LeBron and the guards to operate. Their lack of size could create issues on defense, but with LeBron finding Price and Kyrie open for jumpers and Nance at the rim, this offense would be nearly impossible to contain.
12. Portland Trailblazers: Damian Lillard-Clyde Drexler-LaMarcus Aldridge-Bill Walton-Arvydas Sabonis
6th Man: Terry Porter
At first glance, Portland is just another humongous frontcourt, but Walton, Aldridge, and Sabonis aren’t ordinary big men. Aldridge stretches the floor with a lethal mid-range jumper, and can also be effective with his back to the basket. Sabonis and Walton can switch between anchoring the high post and dishing out dimes as well as any two centers in league history. In his heyday, Walton moved like a guard and could cover ground in a heartbeat. The three bigs would surely run into matchup issues, but they would be a problem for other teams as well. With such a big frontcourt, the perfect guards are needed to complete the lineup. Lillard narrowly edges out Terry Porter for the point guard spot, and his ability to create consistent looks is as good as anybody in the league today. Drexler is the x-factor on the team, having been a star for the majority of his career, while also showing the capability to take a backseat to other premier players. If they had one more top-tier wing, Portland’s All-Time team would be seriously imposing.
11. Orlando Magic: Penny Hardaway-Nick Anderson-Tracy McGrady-Rashard Lewis-Dwight Howard
6th Man: Hedo Turkoglu
The Magic are infamous for having star players leave, but are still able to form a legitimate lineup with a trio of stars. Penny-McGrady-Dwight is as formidable as it gets, as all three are athletic freaks with great length. Anderson and Lewis spread the floor, giving Penny and Tracy an ample amount of room to operate and showcase their terrific vision passing the ball. Turkoglu in his Orlando days was a great shooter and even better point forward to take some pressure off of the other two ball handlers. Dwight is able to mask the majority of the lineup’s shortcomings defensively, but unable to make them into an elite defensive team. They would be one of the most fun teams to watch in the league, and would certainly be tough to beat.
10. Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash-Kevin Johnson-Shawn Marion-Amar’e Stoudemire-Alvan Adams
6th Man: Dan Majerle
Pioneers of the run-and-gun offenses we see today, the Phoenix Suns All-Time team vaunts a high-octane offense along with defensive versatility. The Nash-KJ backcourt would be a pleasure to watch, as they can switch the ball handling duties and set their teammates up for easy baskets in transition. Shawn Marion can guard any perimeter player in the league, and alongside Amar’e, Phoenix has a forward duo built for an up-tempo style of play. Adams is the best true center in Suns history, but this team doesn’t unlock its true potential until “Thunder” Dan is inserted into the lineup for some signature Suns small-ball action. Mike D’Antoni would be signed as head coach for maximum results.
9. New York Knicks: Earl Monroe-Bernard King-Carmelo Anthony-Willis Reed-Patrick Ewing
6th Man: Walt Frazier
Although most of these players didn’t play together, it almost makes too much sense that these pieces would work tremendously together. They have five guys who can score and defend. Carmelo-King would be a deadly one-two punch, and the Knicks would be able to feed whichever one was playing better on a given night. This lineup resembles the title-winning 2004 Detroit Pistons in that they wouldn’t have one of the top 10 players in the league, but are solid from top to bottom.
8. Utah Jazz: John Stockton-Pete Maravich-Adrian Dantley-Karl Malone-Rudy Gobert
6th Man: Deron Williams
Pistol Pete and Stockton would have been an absolute joy to watch on the offensive end. Both players have exceptional passing and scoring skills, and would have field days throwing up lob passes and running pick-and-rolls with their frontcourt. Gobert is a much-needed space-eater in the middle, blocking shots, rebounding, and creating havoc with his massive wingspan. Deron Williams at one time looked like a surefire Hall of Famer in his time with Utah, showing off a nasty handle and a great outside jump shot. One of the more deadly backcourt trios accompanied with the prolific scoring of Malone and Dantley would definitely have the Jazz in contention among the league’s best.
7. Philadelphia 76ers: Allen Iverson-Andre Iguodala-Julius Erving-Charles Barkley-Joel Embiid
6th Man: Hal Greer
Philadelphia sports a top-heavy lineup that would surely struggle if the roster was stretched out to 9 or 10 players. Erving-Barkley is arguably the most star-studded forward combo out of the 30 teams, and can match up with any other pair of forwards. Although not a true point guard, Iverson gives you the skill-set of a lead guard as well as plenty of ball handling. Having not played with much talent for most of his prime, it would be fascinating to watch Iverson play alongside other stars and see how his game would evolve. Embiid is the kind of player who can flourish in any lineup. He’s a dominant force in any era. Iguodala is the Swiss army knife who would be taxed with the job to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Andre is the perfect complement offensively to Iverson-Erving-Barkley, as his unselfishness and passing ability balances out three other players who need the ball in their hands to succeed.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Gary Payton-Russell Westbrook-Ray Allen-Kevin Durant-Shawn Kemp
6th Man: Steven Adams
Although a bit undersized in the frontcourt, the Thunder/Sonics franchise has plenty of offensive firepower to compete in our All-Time league. The dynamic duos of Payton-Kemp and Westbrook-Durant would provide two equally devastating combos that could get rolling in a hurry. The best spot up shooter of all-time, Ray Allen, is surely content with moving around screens and benefiting from the dribble penetration of his teammates. They would struggle guarding the bigger lineups in the league, but teams like the Lakers and Celtics would have serious problems trying to match up with Durant and Kemp in the frontcourt. Adams is the glue-guy off the bench — setting screens and inhaling boards — while Payton and Westbrook would pester opposing backcourts 90-feet from the basket. This team would be cocky, confident and skilled, all scary attributes for any team that matches up against them.
5. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Rick Barry-Draymond Green-Wilt Chamberlain
6th Man: Chris Mullin
The best offensive team in the current NBA also hosts the most explosive offense in our All-Time league. Curry, Thompson, Barry and Mullin are four of the greatest shooters the league has ever seen. Wilt is the most dominant scorer in league history. Green does all the dirty work, and forms an excellent big man passing duo with Chamberlain.
4. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker-George Gervin-Kawhi Leonard-Tim Duncan-David Robinson
6th Man: Manu Ginobili
The All-Time Spurs team would be able to compete solely based on chemistry, but this team also possesses tremendous talent. Parker, Ginobili and Duncan have all played and won championships with Robinson and Kawhi. Add in one of the greatest scorers in NBA history in George Gervin, and you have a team that knows their roles and knows how to win as a unit. Kawhi can match up with any wing in the league, while Gervin can score on any defender thrown at him. Parker will be able to probe the lane, setting up easy baskets for himself as well as Duncan and Robinson. Ginobili thrives in the 6th Man role, and gives the team excellent spacing. The Spurs always have been, and more than likely always will be, a well-oiled machine.
3. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose-Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen-Dennis Rodman-Artis Gilmore
6th Man: Jimmy Butler
Rose, Jordan and Pippen would be enough to make the All-Time Bulls the most athletically gifted team in the league. In transition, no team would be able to stop either of the three pushing the ball down court and finding passing lanes for each other. Imagining Rose snatching a miss off the glass, pushing in transition, and finding Jordan or Pippen for a thunderous dunk on the break is downright frightening. Rodman and Gilmore would primarily be screeners and rebounders, while Butler would attempt to provide outside shooting for a team that desperately needs it. For a franchise that has six championships, the Bulls aren’t incredibly deep talent-wise, but when you have the Greatest of All Time, you don’t really have to be.
2. Boston Celtics: Dennis Johnson-John Havlicek-Larry Bird-Kevin McHale-Bill Russell
6th Man: Paul Pierce
DJ gets the slight edge at the lead guard spot over Hall of Famer Bob Cousy based upon level of competition and available footage. The rest of the lineup is mostly chalk. The scoring and playmaking of Havlicek and Bird, coupled with McHale’s low-post ability, makes for a hard matchup against other teams that want to play small-ball. Bill Russell’s All-World paint protection and rebounding makes up for any lack of foot speed at the other spots. Paul Pierce makes the squad by a hair for his clutch shooting and on-ball defense. The All-Time Celtics are an elite team by any standard.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson-Jerry West-Kobe Bryant-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-Shaquille O’Neal
6th Man: James Worthy
The Lakers have what seems like an unlimited supply of Hall of Famers to select from. Elgin Baylor, Michael Cooper, Pau Gasol, Gail Goodrich, Jamal Wilkes, George Mikan and other great players in NBA history are left off the most exclusive lineup in our All-Time league. Magic and Kobe is a perfect guard combo, matching each other’s intensity and leading the team in completely different ways. West is a dead-eye shooter who can fill the role of playmaker or spot-up shooter. In transition, Magic would have his choice of two of the best finishers in league history in Bryant and Worthy. Kareem and Shaq would be virtually unstoppable. They do occupy similar spots on the court, but Kareem’s range stretches outside the paint, and Shaq’s athleticism allows him to roam freely and quickly in the middle. The Lakers have tremendous star power along with elite size, speed, and skill, making them the odds on favorite to capture the All-Time title.