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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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

6. team. 93. . . . Philadelphia 76ers

6. Sixers — James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid

The Sixers’ starting lineup has never not produced. Joel Embiid virtually guarantees Philadelphia some level of competency. That said, this might be the best starting five ever placed around Embiid. James Harden, while not the MVP of old, is still a top-tier facilitator who consistently breaks down the defense. Tyrese Maxey is an elite third option who can spot-up and splash 3s, or use his speed to torch the rotating defense and put pressure on the rim. Then there’s Tobias Harris, coming off his best stretch as a Sixer post-Harden’s arrival. The cherry on top, of course, is P.J. Tucker — an elite multi-positional defender with years of experience, a championship under his belt, and a knockdown jumper.

. . . Phoenix Suns. 5. team. 66

5. Suns — Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton

The Suns are still very real contenders in the West. Last season came to a deflating and disappointing end, but Deandre Ayton returned on a four-year max extension, Devin Booker is right in the middle of his prime, and Chris Paul has given us every reason to believe he can continue delivering superstar performances at the point guard spot. Add in Mikal Bridges, who finished second in DPOY voting, and the always-impactful Jae Crowder, and there just aren’t many holes to poke. The Suns have continuity, star power, and a track record of success. We can’t write them off because of one bad game seven.

4. team. 73. . . . Denver Nuggets

4. Nuggets — Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic

It starts with Nikola Jokic, the back-to-back MVP and arguably the best offensive player in basketball. He is not only a superstar, but a superstar whose primary talent is elevating those around him. Then there’s Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., both of whom missed essentially all of last season. Injuries always leave lingering concerns, but if Murray and Porter (both of whom are under 25 years of age) can return to form, then Jokic will have two real co-stars to share the burden with offensively. Murray can create his own offense from scratch, or work out of two-man actions with Jokic to supreme effect. Porter is one of the NBA’s most prolific perimeter shooters at 6-foot-10. Aaron Gordon, meanwhile, is an elite wing defender, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the perfect 3-and-D role player to tie everything together.