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: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

team. 20. . . . Los Angeles Lakers. 18

18. Lakers — Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Thomas Bryant

The Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That fact alone makes it difficult to count them out. James put up MVP-caliber numbers last season, and were it not for injuries and perhaps the worst supporting cast in basketball, it might have amounted to something. LA has made a few nice additions this summer — most recently acquiring Patrick Beverley, who figures to start in the backcourt — which could place them back in the postseason mix. Russell Westbrook can’t get much worse, Beverley is a winning player through and through, and Thomas Bryant’s blend of shot-blocking and 3-point shooting should make him a useful complement to Davis in the frontcourt.

156. . . . Cleveland Cavaliers. 17. team

17. Cavaliers — Darius Garland, Caris LeVert, Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen

Before injures ravaged the roster, Cleveland looked like a potential top-five seed in the East last season. The starting five simply fits. Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley spearhead an elite defense, while Darius Garland’s ascent to All-Star status completely changed the functionality of Cleveland’s offense. Garland can play set-up man, or he can take over the game with his pull-up shooting and nifty in-between game. Caris LeVert’s arrival provided the Cavs with another source of shot creation in the backcourt, while Lauri Markkanen adjusted well to life as a “small” forward. There’s shooting, rim protection, versatility, and playmaking all readily available. Cleveland is a good team.

. Chicago Bulls. 16. team. 24. .

16. Bulls — Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic

Chicago managed to stay competitive last season despite multiple key injuries. With Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams both back in the rotation full-time (hopefully), Chicago has a chance to make real waves in the Eastern Conference standings. Ball was a special defender in his brief time on the court last season, while his offensive fit working off of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan is undeniable. The Bulls have two star creators, one of the smartest connective-tissue passers in the game, and a multi-time All-Star patrolling the middle in Nikola Vucevic. Williams needs to stay on the court, but he’s a lottery pick with serious untapped potential. Defense could be an issue — Lonzo and Alex Caruso are not traditional defensive anchors — but the Bulls’ offense should run smoothly.