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) /
8 of 10
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

9. team. 79. . . . Dallas Mavericks

9. Mavericks — Luka Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Christian Wood, JaVale McGee

Luka Doncic is the ultimate one-man contender right now. It’s hard to not have a competent team with him handling the rock. Dallas lost Jalen Brunson to free agency — a loss that will be deeply felt — but there’s every reason to believe the Mavs can recover. Spencer Dinwiddie is a starting-caliber guard who complements Luka quite well. Christian Wood has the talent to match or exceed Brunson’s impact, albeit in completely different ways. Wood has one of the most expansive offensive repertoires of any NBA big. He can spread the floor, dominate in transition, or provide Luka with an outlet around the rim. Dorian Finney-Smtih is an elite wing defender, and JaVale McGee should look right at home catching lobs from Doncic.

147. . . . Brooklyn Nets. 8. team

8. Nets — Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons

After a summer of speculation, it appears that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will give it another go in Brooklyn. Ben Simmons is also slated to make his Nets debut, making the second sons of New York one of the more interesting contenders in the NBA. Very few trios (if any) can match the offensive talent of Durant, Irving, and Simmons. That said, the defense is a major concern. Simmons almost won DPOY a couple years ago, but he has never been great as a small-ball five. The Nets don’t currently have any rim protectors who can spread the floor and cleanly co-exist with Simmons. This is a pretty reasonable alternative — putting as much offensive firepower on the floor as possible — but it’s fair to wonder just how successfully Brooklyn will stop the other team, even with Simmons mucking up passing lanes and suffocating ball-handlers.

. Los Angeles Clippers. 7. team. 77. .

7. Clippers — Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac

Kawhi Leonard’s health is the ultimate factor in LA’s outlook for 2022-23. If he’s the Kawhi of old, then the Clippers might be favorites in the West. If he takes another step back, even then LA will be a handful. There aren’t many teams who can match the Clippers’ combination of top-end talent and depth. Paul George remains an elite No. 2 option (maybe the best No. 2 option in the sport), while Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac, and Reggie Jackson have all been stars in their roles for LA in Leonard’s absence. John Wall could also replace Jackson as the starting point guard — there’s some obvious upside there if Wall can relocate some of his pre-ACL magic.