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2016-17 NBA Season: 30 teams, 30 lineups

As the start of the 2016-17 NBA season is imminent, I recommend 30 lineups — one for each team — that pique my interest. Which teams and lineups, besides the Golden State Warriors, do you think will wreak havoc on the league?

Golden State Warriors Media Day Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As training camp has begun, teams will assess their players and how they fit together. For Golden State Warrior fans, obsessing over possible lineups for our team for months (or even years, if you predicted Kevin Durant was coming all along) is common practice.

With the Warriors’ new Death Lineup presumably set in stone — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Durant (!!!) — I’ve put together the most interesting five-man lineups for every other NBA team, previewing the fun, sad, intriguing, and hilarious times ahead in the 2017 season.

Atlanta Hawks

  • Point Guard: Dennis Schröder
  • Wing: Kyle Korver
  • Wing: Kent Bazemore
  • Wing: Thabo Sefolosha
  • Big: Paul Millsap

Despite the addition of Dwight Howard, who could return to stardom after a few rough years, I’m most intrigued with lineups with Millsap at center. Millsap is as close to a Draymond Green you’ll find in the league, with strong scoring, passing, and rebounding and an NBA All-Defense background. Schröder at point guard and Korver, Bazemore, and Sefolosha on the perimeter, this team can go small while keeping strong defenders on the floor.

Brooklyn Nets

  • ?: Yogi Ferrell
  • ?: Joe Harris
  • ?: Sean Kilpatrick
  • ?: Justin Hamilton
  • ?: Egidijus Mockevicius

These are real people, and are on the Brooklyn Nets. Sean Kilpatrick is an actual NBA player, and some people like Justin Hamilton, eek.

Boston Celtics

  • Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas
  • Wing: Avery Bradley
  • Wing: Jae Crowder
  • Wing: Jaylen Brown
  • Big: Al Horford

Though the Celtics will likely start veteran Amir Johnson, Brown might be the future of the power forward position for them. Although he’s skinny and inexperienced as a rookie, his athleticism and versatility will fit well with the other four veteran starters. He’ll join Horford in the frontcourt, creating a solid presence in the paint.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Point Guard: Kemba Walker
  • Wing: Nicolas Batum
  • Wing: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • Big: Marvin Williams
  • Big: Roy Hibbert

Hornets’ coach Steve Clifford has locked Walker, Batum, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Williams into the starting lineup, but has yet to decide on a starting center. Hibbert, after a couple of terrible years in Indiana and LA, has a chance at revival in Clifford’s defensive scheme. Though he offers little offensively, there’s some upside in his shot-blocking and rebounding ability. The return of Kidd-Gilchrist from injury is also fascinating, as his defense and energy is game-changing.

Chicago Bulls

  • Point Guard: Dwyane Wade
  • Wing: Jimmy Butler
  • Wing: Doug McDermott
  • Big: Nikola Mirotic
  • Big: Robin Lopez

It’s difficult to find a lineup with spacing and cohesion on the Bulls. This lineup might have a chance. If Wade and Butler share ball-handling duties, McDermott and Mirotic spot up on the perimeter, and Lopez assumes defensive and rebounding responsibilities, this lineup could have a functional offense in the modern NBA (the defense, though, will be questionable). It’s too bad Rajon Rondo will start for the Bulls, and hog the ball a lot.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Point Guard: Kay Felder
  • Wing: J.R. Smith
  • Wing: Mike Dunleavy
  • Big: Kevin Love
  • Big: Chris Andersen

The Cavaliers’ supporting cast is secretly lovable, now that Matthew Dellavedova has left for the Bucks. Felder’s a 5-foot-11 magician, Smith won’t wear a shirt this season, and Dunleavy is one of those weird former-Warriors. Love and Andersen are an incredible Jekyll-and-Hyde pairing that will win over your heart.

Dallas Mavericks

  • Point Guard: Deron Williams
  • Wing: Seth Curry
  • Wing: Wesley Matthews
  • Wing: Harrison Barnes
  • Big: Dirk Nowitzki

If the Mavericks want to throw defense into the wind, here’s a lineup that will score points. Seth Curry, Matthews, and Barnes can spot up, Nowitzki will always be able to score, and Williams is a decent distributor. There’s no center here, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Denver Nuggets

  • Point Guard: Emmanuel Mudiay
  • Wing: Will Barton
  • Wing: Danilo Gallinari
  • Wing: Wilson Chandler
  • Big: Nikola Jokic

This could be the Nugget’s best lineup. Though, Gary Harris and Kenneth Faried will likely start, Barton and Chandler offer more length and versatility to complement Gallinari and Rio 2016 Olympic star Nikola Jokic. The jury’s still out on Mudiay, but he’s still their best option at point guard right now.

Detroit Pistons

  • Point Guard: Reggie Jackson
  • Wing: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Wing: Tobias Harris
  • Wing: Marcus Morris
  • BIG: BOBAN Marjanovic

The starters from positions one through four remain here, but BOBAN takes the place of Andre Drummond. BOBAN is an awesome world-destroyer. It’s a little unclear why the Pistons signed him, and for that large of a contract, but they should give him the rotation minutes he deserves because: BOBAN!

Golden State Warriors

  • Point Guard: Stephen Curry
  • Wing: Patrick McCaw
  • Wing: Klay Thompson
  • Wing: Kevin Durant
  • Center: Draymond Green

Andre Iguodala is great, but he’s getting older and has a history of injury issues. Could the Warriors’ lineup of the future have rookie phenom Patrick McCaw take his place? His defense and shooting have already made him a fan favorite, and he’s a natural fit with the rest of the Death Lineup.

Houston Rockets

  • Point Guard!!!: James Harden
  • Wing: Eric Gordon
  • Wing: K.J. McDaniels
  • Wing: Trevor Ariza
  • Big: Clint Capela

The Rockets will be an offensive onslaught this season under new coach Mike D’Antoni, but the defense is a definite concern. With McDaniels, Ariza, and Capela providing athletic length and speed, the defensive weaknesses of Harden and Gordon might be masked just enough. Houston might not be the greatest team, but their scoring prowess will be lit.

Indiana Pacers

  • Point Guard: Jeff Teague
  • Wing: Monta Ellis
  • Wing: Paul George
  • Big: Thaddeus Young
  • Big: Myles Turner

The Pacers’ most interesting players might just be those in their starting lineup. With new additions in Teague and Young, this team will have plenty of ball-dominant scorers, but some defensive issues with the losses of Ian Mahinmi and coach Frank Vogel. Ellis will, sadly, not “have it all,” with Teague, George, and Young scoring the ball.

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Point Guard: Austin Rivers
  • Wing: Jamal Crawford
  • Wing: Paul Pierce
  • Big: Luc Mbah a Moute
  • Big: Marreese Speights

The Clippers’ bench brigade is a work of art. Austin Rivers just got paid, Crawford and Speights will jack up shots all over the court, while Pierce and Mbah a Moute will just try to keep up with the rest. The possibilities for second-unit heroism (or more likely, embarrassment) are endless.

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Point Guard: D’Angelo Russell
  • Wing: Lou Williams
  • Wing: Nick Young
  • Big: Yi Jianlian
  • Big: Timofey Mozgov

Poor Russell. What would happen if Luke Walton put him on the floor with two bigs that really shouldn’t be on this team, and two wings that will shoot the ball just a little too much? Sadly, even this lineup is still probably a better situation for Russell than playing with Kobe Bryant last year.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Point Guard: Mike Conley
  • Wing: Tony Allen
  • Wing: Vince Carter
  • Wing: Chandler Parsons
  • Big: Marc Gasol

If the Grizzlies are truly transitioning away from the Grit’n’Grind era towards a more modern style of play, this might be the lineup with the most potential. By swapping Carter for Zach Randolph, Memphis could shift Parsons up to the small-ball four, while keeping both Conley and Allen on the court. If Gasol is healthy, his defense will be good enough to cover for the lack of size elsewhere.

Miami Heat

  • Point Guard: Goran Dragic
  • Wing: Josh Richardson
  • Wing: Dion Waiters
  • Wing: Justise Winslow
  • Big: Hassan Whiteside

The Heat lost Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Joe Johnson this offseason. What’s left isn’t pretty. Dragic and Whiteside are their best players, while Richardson and Winslow are young players with solid potential. Put in Dion Waiters, and there’s some intrigue here.

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Point Guard: Ricky Rubio
  • Wing: Zach LaVine
  • Wing: Brandon Rush
  • Wing: Andrew Wiggins
  • Big: Karl-Anthony Towns

The Timberwolves are stacked with young talent, but have few players with the 3-point range that can really stretch the floor. Former Warrior Brandon Rush, who filled in admirably for Harrison Barnes when he was injured, can be the 3-and-D role player the Timberwolves will need. In this lineup, Wiggins would receive more space to use his athleticism as a four, while Towns would be even more difficult to double in the post.

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Guard: Matthew Dellavedova
  • Point Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Wing: Jabari Parker
  • Big: Mirza Teletovic
  • Big: John Henson

The Bucks’ roster is full of players that defy convention, and it’s difficult to trot out a lineup that doesn’t have some sort of weakness, especially without the injured Khris Middleton. Here, Antetokounmpo and Parker are your primary scorers, Dellavedova and Teletovic provide spacing, while Henson patrols the paint. Defensively, slotting Jabari at the three will yield problems, but this lineup is huge and versatile.

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Point Guard: Jrue Holiday
  • Wing: E’Twaun Moore
  • Wing: Lance Stephenson
  • Wing: Solomon Hill
  • Big: Anthony Davis

Once Holiday returns, this lineup would showcase star Davis’ abilities best. Holiday and Stephenson can handle the ball on the perimeter while Moore and Hill can defend and hit 3s. Davis will have the opportunity to man the center position (Omer Asik is not going to cut it), and will have room to work inside.

New York Knicks

  • Point Guard: Brandon Jennings
  • Wing: Courtney Lee
  • Wing: Lance Thomas
  • Wing: Carmelo Anthony
  • Big: Kristaps Porzingis

The Knicks invested a ton of resources in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah this offseason, but their best lineup might not include either of them. With Anthony and Porzingis as the bigs, the Knicks could have five shooters on the floor and an impressive inside-out game. With Lee and Thomas as solid 3-and-D players, and Jennings’ sparkplug offensive capabilities, this team could be something no Knicks team in recent memory has been: fun. But knowing Phil Jackson’s adherence to the triangle offense, it probably won’t happen.

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
  • Wing: Victor Oladipo
  • Wing: Andre Roberson
  • Big: Ersan Ilyasova
  • Big: Steven Adams

The challenge in constructing a well-rounded lineup for the Thunder is finding their best two forwards. With Westbrook and Oladipo entrenched in the backcourt, and Adams as the team’s best center, the team could put Roberson and Ilyasova in their lineup to provide defense and spacing, respectively. Roberson is undersized, and Ilyasova frankly isn’t that great, but the playmaking and defense in this lineup should be outstanding.

Orlando Magic

  • Point Guard: Elfrid Payton
  • Wing: Evan Fournier
  • Wing: Mario Hezonja
  • Big: Aaron Gordon
  • Big: Serge Ibaka

The Magic had a strange offseason, but there’s something left to salvage. If Hezonja makes the next step, he and Fournier could pair well on the wings. Gordon and Ibaka are dynamic and exciting. Payton has some work to do as a starting point guard, and with so many star point guards in the 2017 draft, the Magic could go in a different direction pretty soon. They’ll struggle to score, like any other lineup the Magic can throw out, but they’ll be fast enough to run the ball.

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Point Forward: Ben Simmons
  • Big: Dario Saric
  • Big: Nerlens Noel
  • Big: Jahlil Okafor
  • Big: Joel Embiid

If Ben Simmons is healthy enough to play this season, do this for the culture, Brett Brown. Please.

Phoenix Suns

  • Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe
  • Wing: Devin Booker
  • Wing: Jared Dudley
  • Big: Dragan Bender
  • Big: Marquese Chriss

The Suns aren’t a great team, but they have a bunch of interesting players. Bledsoe and Booker are an explosive backcourt, Bender and Chriss are rookies with high upside, and Jared Dudley is the perfect veteran to fill the cracks.

Portland Trail Blazers

  • Point Guard: Damian Lillard
  • Wing: C.J. McCollum
  • Wing: Allen Crabbe
  • Wing: Evan Turner
  • Big: Festus Ezeli

If Portland is serious about its investment in their four highest paid players (Lillard, McCollum, Crabbe, and Turner), they should try playing them together. Though, Crabbe and Turner are definitely undersized for the forward positions they’d have to fill, the lineup will have plenty of playmaking and scoring. Former Warrior Ezeli, if healthy, is the best match for these four because of his strong defense and rebounding.

San Antonio Spurs

  • Point Guard: Patty Mills
  • Wing: Danny Green
  • Wing: Manu Ginobili
  • Wing: Kawhi Leonard
  • Big: Dewayne Dedmon

Despite the presence of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, the Spurs’ most interesting lineup may include Dedmon, a traditional rim protector, and Kawhi as the small-ball four. Patty Mills could be the team’s best point guard, and Danny Green and Manu Ginobili are still strong wing players. This lineup might be more suited to face the Warriors’ new Death Lineup than their starters will be.

Sacramento Kings

  • Point Guard: Darren Collison
  • Wing: Omri Casspi
  • Wing: Rudy Gay
  • Wing: Matt Barnes
  • Big: DeMarcus Cousins

There aren’t many fun lineups the Kings can throw out, but they have a few fun players. Cousins is amazing when he’s locked in, and Casspi and Barnes are fan favorites with shooting and defense, respectively. Throw in Collison and Gay, and you have some potential for a little bit of chaos.

Toronto Raptors

  • Point Guard: Kyle Lowry
  • Point Guard: Cory Joseph
  • Wing: Norman Powell
  • Big: Patrick Patterson
  • Big: Pascal Siakam

The Raptors excelled last year when they slotted in Lowry with their bench unit, and they could still be strong in these stretches this year. Joseph and Patterson are solid veterans off the bench, and Powell and Siakam are young players with room to grow. Don’t sleep on the Raptors finishing second in the East again this year.

Utah Jazz

  • Point Guard: George Hill
  • Wing: Rodney Hood
  • Wing: Gordon Hayward
  • Wing: Joe Johnson
  • Big: Derrick Favors

The Jazz are deep with quality players, and seem primed for a huge leap this season. If they’re planning on going small, they could swap starting center Rudy Gobert for Johnson for his shooting and playmaking. While they don’t have a transcendent star, the Jazz are coached well and have so much depth and defensive skill that almost every lineup they could put together is legitimately scary.

Washington Wizards

  • Point Guard: John Wall
  • Wing: Bradley Beal
  • Wing: Otto Porter
  • Big: Markieff Morris
  • Big: Ian Mahinmi

The Wizards shelled out a lot of money for big men this offseason, most notably signing Mahinmi, one of the best defensive centers in the league. Though, he likely won’t start, he’ll fit in well with the rest of the starters, and might even be the preferred option to end games.

Which team and lineup has the most potential to do damage this year?

I’ve laid out my suggested lineups for the league, what’s yours? Comment below!

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