Ranking every NBA starting five; where do Sixers land?

Sixers Warriors Joel Embiid (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Sixers Warriors Joel Embiid (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

149. . . . Oklahoma City Thunder. 27. team

27. Thunder — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

The loss of Chet Holmgren will leave OKC with a lot of what-ifs, no matter how the season progresses. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is enough to keep OKC off the very bottom of the list — he’s simply one of the most gifted individual shot-creators on the planet — and Josh Giddey should improve markedly in year two. Beyond the backcourt, however, it gets murky. The Thunder just don’t have a ton of consistent offensive contributors right now.

26. team. 100. . . . Indiana Pacers

26. Pacers — Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Chris Duarte, Jalen Smith, Myles Turner

Tyrese Haliburton is cut from star cloth, but he and the Pacers are still a couple years away from making any real noise. In fact, Indiana will probably take a step back for it takes a step forward. Myles Turner is prime trade bait for desperate contenders, while Chris Duarte, Jalen Smith, and new lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin all need time to mature. Indy has enough shooting around Haliburton to make things happen on offense, and Turner is an elite defensive anchor, but the team is too young to contend right now.

. . . Orlando Magic. 25. team. 38

25. Magic — Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr.

Orlando is too young to compete, but goodness is that starting five exciting. There’s a lot of talent here: Paolo Banchero, the latest No. 1 pick, being the obvious headliner. Wendell Carter Jr. emerged as quite the well-rounded player last season while Franz Wagner flashed star upside as a rookie. Jalen Suggs struggled out of the gates, but his athleticism and basketball I.Q. should translate to productive, winning basketball sooner than later. Cole Anthony is a bucket. The Magic were a good defensive team for stretches last season and, with Paolo leading the charge, we could see the offense start to turn a corner. There’s a lot to like about Orlando’s future.