Top 25 NBA Starting Lineups of All-Time

The long history of the NBA has given us some truly great teams, and within those teams came tremendous starting fives. If we journey back to the 80s, there were the magnificent Lakers and Celtics teams, featuring Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Or, in the not-so-distant past, there was the Celtics’ “Big Three” in the late 2000s and the beginning of the LeBron and Wade Heat teams shortly thereafter. In the past decade, we have been watching the Warriors roll out a starting five capable of competing with any team in history.

Comparing lineups throughout the different NBA eras can be tough, as rules, pace, players, technology, and our understanding of the human body/training methods all have changed throughout the years. Currently, we are in a three-point era due to the progression of advanced analytics, which have directed teams to shoot more threes and also get more looks at the rim. During the 80s and 90s, we saw more teams grind out games and shoot much more in the mid-range.

Narrowing down 25 of the top starting fives of all time was incredibly tough, but taking into account offensive and defensive ratings, player accolades, postseason success, and sheer domination, we have landed on these teams. Some of these teams were able to keep their core intact for a few years, while others didn’t last nearly as long.

Take a stroll down memory lane as we review some of the top lineups of all time. When you’re done, check out the latest NBA Starting Lineups and NBA Rosters for the current season and our Top 50 NBA Players of All-Time list. 

1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls

PG: Ron Harper (7.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.6 APG)

SG: Michael Jordan (30.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.3 APG)

SF: Scottie Pippen (19.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.9 APG)

PF: Dennis Rodman (5.5 PPG, 14.9 RPG, 2.5 APG)

C: Luc Longley (9.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.9 APG)


Chicago BullsThe 1995-96 Bulls featured Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, and Luc Longley, with Toni Kukoc coming off the bench in a sixth-man role. Jordan led the league in points per game that season, and Dennis Rodman led the league in rebounds per game. The Bulls won 72 games under Phil Jackson and only lost three postseason games that year. Both Jordan and Scottie Pippen averaged over 20 points per game. Bringing in Rodman for this stretch really got Chicago over the hump after some losses to Detroit in prior years. The Bulls demolished teams in the regular season; they led the league in points scored and offensive rating.

2. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors

PG: Stephen Curry (25.3 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.5 RPG)

SG: Klay Thompson (22.3 PPG, 2.1 APG, 3.7 RPG)

SF: Kevin Durant (25.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.8 APG)

PF: Draymond Green (10.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.0 APG)

C: Zaza Pachulia (6.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.9 APG)


Golden State WarriorsWhile the 2016-17 Warriors team may not have achieved the franchise’s highest win total, the fact that they added Kevin Durant to an already loaded squad was unfair. Three players averaged over 22 points, and Draymond Green was the glue player to take a step back and do the dirty work; he secured the Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts. As a team, Golden State scored 115.9 points per game this season, and were first in offensive rating. In the playoffs, the Warriors swept the entire Western Conference and won in five games against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This Golden State team nearly won every playoff game.

3. 1985-86 Boston Celtics

PG: Dennis Johnson (15.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.4 RPG)

SG: Danny Ainge (10.7 PPG, 5.1 APG, 2.9 RPG)

SF: Larry Bird (25.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 6.8 APG)

PF: Robert Parish (16.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.8 APG)

C: Kevin McHale (21.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.0 BPG)


Boston CelticsBoston and Los Angeles were at their peak in the 80s, and Boston took home the title during the 1985-1986 season. This was also a year for Larry Bird to bring home an MVP. They dominated the East with 67 wins, and Milwaukee was the next closest with 57. They had the best defensive rating in the league, and their margin of victory that season was 9.4 points. Boston ran through those 1986 playoffs, losing a total of three games across all four series. This included three teams that won 50+ regular season games. This core would go onto compete for a few finals, but this year they put together all the pieces.

4. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

PG: Magic Johnson (23.7 PPG, 12.1 APG, 6.2 RPG)

SG: Byron Scott (18.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.7 APG)

SF: James Worthy (20.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.9 APG)

PF: A.C. Green (11.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 APG)

C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.0 APG)


Los Angeles LakersThe 1986-87 Lakers had an incredibly seasoned starting five, as many of them were in the midst of their prime. Magic Johnson averaged a double-double, putting together roughly 24 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds per game. The Lakers finished with the highest offensive rating that season and were also seventh in defensive rating. They took care of an uber-talented Celtics team fresh off a championship in six games in the NBA Finals.

5. 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers

PG: Derek Fisher (11.5 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.0 RPG)

SG: Kobe Bryant (28.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.0 APG)

SF: Rick Fox (9.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.2 APG)

PF: Horace Grant (8.5.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 APG)

C: Shaquille O’Neal (28.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 3.7 APG)


Los Angeles LakersThe 2000-2001 Lakers were mainly about Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Byrant. It was sheer domination as both combined for nearly 60 points per game. This Lakers team averaged 100.6 points per game, and allowed just 97.2. The dominance in the postseason is what stood out this season; they lost merely one game, which was in the Finals against the 76ers. They swept, San Antonio, Sacramento, and Portland to get there. All three of those teams won 50 games that season. Winning 80% of their games that season puts them among the top of all time. While some of the secondary names may not stand out like some of the other starting fives, they dominated the league.

6. 2012-13 Miami Heat

PG: Mario Chalmers (8.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.2 RPG)

SG: Dwyane Wade (21.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.1 APG)

SF: LeBron James (26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.3 APG)

PF: Udonis Haslem  (3.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.5 APG)

C: Chris Bosh (16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG)


Miami HeatIt was another MVP season for “The King,” as LeBron James took home the MVP. He also led the “Heatles” to another NBA Finals where they took home the championship in seven games against the Spurs. Offensively, they ranked second in rating, and were also top ten in defensive rating, too. Winning 66 games in a season is a major accomplishment, and they cemented themselves among some truly great teams for the regular season. Completing that impressive regular season with a championship is what propels them to sixth all-time on our list. Dwyane Wade and James were the major threats on the offensive side, but having Chris Bosh as your third option really made this starting unit unstoppable.

7. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers

PG: Jerry West (25.8 PPG, 9.7 APG, 4.2 RPG)

SG: Gail Goodrich (25.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.5 APG)

SF: Jim McMillan (18.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.6 APG)

PF: Happy Hairston (13.1 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 2.4 APG)

C: Wilt Chamberlain (14.8 PPG, 19.2 RPG, 4.0 APG)


Los Angeles LakersThis was a few seasons before they landed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Lakers starting five dominated minutes and production. Any lineup with Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, and Jerry West together has to be ranked high on every list, but the secondary pieces (Jim McMillan and Happy Hairston) really rounded out what is ultimately an underrated lineup when you look back through the Lakers’ history. Their overall play was exceptional when you look at the standards for that year, ranking first in offensive rating and second in defensive rating.

8. 2015-16 Golden State Warriors

PG: Stephen Curry (25.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.5 APG)

SG: Klay Thompson (24.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.3 APG)

SF: Harrison Barnes (9.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.3 APG)

PF: Draymond Green (15.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 6.0 APG)

C: Andrew Bogut (4.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.4 APG)


Golden State WarriorsThis was the year before the Warriors landed Kevin Durant in free agency. The Warriors failed to win the championship this season, losing in seven games due to an impressive 3-1 series comeback from LeBron James and company. However, this Warriors team still won 73 games, and Stephen Curry won the MVP. Golden State was both top five in defensive and offensive rating, and the average margin of victory was a whopping 10.8 points. You could argue that Golden State would have had another championship if Green wasn’t suspended during a crucial game in the Finals, but unfortunately we will never know for certain. While the Warriors didn’t win it all, this was one of the more fascinating teams in the recent era. 

9. 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers

PG: Kyrie Irving (19.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.7 APG)

SG: J.R. Smith (12.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.7 APG)

SF: LeBron James (25.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 6.8 APG)

PF: Kevin Love (16.0 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.4 APG)

C: Tristan Thompson (7.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 0.8 APG)


cleveland cavaliersCleveland ranks just behind the Golden State Warriors that they beat in the NBA Finals after overcoming a 3-1 deficit. Why? The Cavaliers dominated the Eastern Conference (12-2) on their way to the NBA Finals, as the east was particularly week during these years.  Golden State had a better regular season and a much tougher playoff gauntlet, so it ultimately just ran out of steam. The Dubs also likely win the Finals if Draymond Green doesn’t get suspended . Still, this Cavs starting lineup features LeBron (in arguably his best form), Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Tristan Thompson understood his role perfectly and executed it, while J.R. Smith could get hot from deep on any given night.

10. 1964-65 Boston Celtics

PG: K.C. Jones (8.3 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4.1 RPG)

SG: Sam Jones (25.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.8 APG)

SF: Tom Heinsohn (13.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.3 APG)

PF: Tom “Satch” Sanders (11.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.2 APG)

C: Bill Russell (14.1 PPG, 24.1 RPG, 5.3 APG)


Boston CelticsThis team was in the midst of a stretch of eight straight championships for the Celtics. There were just nine teams in the league that season, but Bill Russell took home the MVP trophy, and the Celtics finished first in the Eastern Division (62-18.) They were the best defensive team according to the ratings that season. Boston played solid team basketball, as the production was fairly spread out across the board. Their average margin of victory was 8.4 points, and that ranked first in the league. It took Boston seven games to knock off the Sixers, but only five to beat its rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the NBA Finals.

11. 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers

PG: Maurice Cheeks (12.5 PPG, 6.9 APG, 2.6 RPG)

SG: Andrew Toney (19.7 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.8 RPG)

SF: Julius Erving (21.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.7 APG)

PF: Marc Iavaroni (5.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG)

C: Moses Malone (24.5 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG)


Philadelphia 76ersIn a decade that was dominated by Lakers and Celtics championships, the 76ers were able to sneak in and win a ring this year. Moses Malone led this team, and took home an MVP this year as well. They led the league with 65 wins, and were top five in offensive and defensive rating. The 76ers dominated in the postseason, sweeping the Lakers in the finals, and only losing once in the prior series. The combination of Julius Erving and Malone dominated, as they both averaged over 20 points per game and nearly two blocks per game. Both were at the peak of their game, and managed to put all the pieces together for a championship.

12. 2007-08 Boston Celtics

PG: Rajon Rondo (10.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.2 RPG)

SG: Ray Allen (17.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.1 APG)

SF: Paul Pierce (19.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.5 APG)

PF: Kevin Garnett (18.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.4 APG)

C: Kendrick Perkins (6.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 BPG)


Boston CelticsThe term big three came more to life in the recent era of basketball, even though the process has been around since the beginning. Boston developed their own big three by bringing in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. They won 66 games that year, and had one of the best defenses as well. They ranked first in defensive rating, and allowed just 90.3 points per game, which is absurd. The Celtics won their games by an average of 10.2 points, but playoff Boston was a bit of a different story. They went to Game 7 in their first two rounds, and went six games over the last two. They eventually went onto beat the Lakers in a season where Kobe Bryant was the MVP.

13. 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers

PG: Wali Jones (13.2 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.3 RPG)

SG: Hal Greer (22.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG)

SF: Chet Walker (19.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.3 APG)

PF: Billy Cunningham (18.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.5 APG)

C: Wilt Chamberlain (24.1 PPG, 24.2 RPG, 7.8 APG)


Philadelphia 76ersIt was an MVP season for Wilt Chamberlain, who led the league in rebounds and win shares. He averaged roughly 24 rebounds, 24 points, and eight assists per game, which definitely goes down as one of the best seasons for any player of all time. The Sixers also had Hal Greer as one of the better scorers of the era, and this bunch eventually found themselves on top of the NBA during the regular season with 68 wins. Scoring over 125 points per game, it was hard to see any team slowing them down, even the Boston Celtics who had won eight-straight NBA Finals to that point. The Sixers beat them in just five games and then proceeded to beat the San Francisco Warriors in six games in the Finals.

14. 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers

PG: Derek Fisher (7.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.1 RPG)

SG: Kobe Bryant (27.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.0 APG)

SF: Ron Artest (11.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3 APG)

PF: Pau Gasol (18.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.4 APG)

C: Andrew Bynum (15.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG)


Los Angeles LakersThis was the second year in a row the Lakers had won the NBA Finals, and while this team may not have had flashy superstars like some of the others on this page, they were still one of the best lineups by the numbers. They were a top five defensive rating team, and Kobe Bryant carried them offensively. Andrew Bynum had also evolved into a potential superstar, but we know how that turned out. Pau Gasol was one of the more consistent bigs during this time, averaging a double-double. Taking on the Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics in the final two series of the postseason speaks volumes about this championship run.

15. 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs

PG: Tony Parker (15.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 2.6 RPG)

SG: Stephen Jackson (11.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.3 APG)

SF: Bruce Bowen (7.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.4 APG)

PF: Tim Duncan (23.3 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 3.9 APG)

C: David Robinson (8.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG)


San Antonio SpursYou can run through numerous Spurs starting fives and find them deserving of this list. This was the end of an era with David Robinson as they transitioned into the prime Tim Duncan years. Duncan brought in an MVP trophy, but also put together one of his best seasons in his career. The Spurs won 60 games, and they held teams to 90.4 points per game. These Spurs teams were excellent defensively, and while many criticized this team as being boring, fundamentally they got the job done. They beat a very good Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Dallas team to get to the Finals, and when you look at those teams, the Spurs championship run that season was extremely tough.

16. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks

PG: Oscar Robertson (19.4 PPG, 8.2 APG, 5.7 RPG)

SG: John McGlocklin (15.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.7 APG)

SF: Bob Dandridge (18.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.5 APG)

PF: Greg Smith (11.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.8 APG)

C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (31.7 PPG, 16.0 RPG, 3.3 APG)


Milwaukee BucksThis has been the lone championship for the Milwaukee Bucks franchise, and it was brought by two Hall of Fame players. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson both led this team, but Bob Dandridge and John McGlocklin both chipped in over 15 points per game. This Bucks team ranks inside the top 40 in points per game during an entire season. Winning 66 games was a huge accomplishment, and they crushed opponents in the postseason, losing just two games across three series. They finished first in offensive and defensive rating, and their margin of victory was by 12.2 points. The late Robertson addition in his career really pushed this team over the edge.

17. 2022-23 Denver Nuggets

PG: Jamal Murray (20.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.2 APG)

SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.4 APG)

SF: Michael Porter Jr. (17.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.0 APG)

PF: Aaron Gordon (16.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.0 APG)

C: Nikola Jokic (24.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 9.8 APG)


This starting lineup simply has no weaknesses and features the greatest passing and facilitating big man of all-time: Nikola Jokic. Jokic posted an absolutely outrageous playoff line of roughly 30 points, 14 rebounds, and ten assists, with a 55/46/80 shooting split. It is possible that we will never see a playoff run like that again; it was that good. Jamal Murray also dominated alongside Jokic, averaging 26 points, seven assists, and six rebounds on 47/40/93. Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and KCP simply had to do their respective jobs on the floor, and there was no doubt that Denver was going to win an NBA Championship. Had the Nuggets been more dominant in the regular season (53-29 record), they would have likely climbed up this list even higher. By the time Jokic and Murray’s careers are done, we might view this team differently (for better), too!

18. 2015-16 Oklahoma City Thunder

PG: Russell Westbrook (23.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 10.4 APG)

SG: Andre Roberson (4.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.7 APG)

SF: Kevin Durant (28.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.0 APG)

PF: Serge Ibaka (12.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG)

C: Steven Adams (8.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.8 APG)


Oklahoma City ThunderWhat would have happened if the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t blow a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals against Golden State? They likely would have won an NBA Finals against LeBron’s Cavs and also would have probably stayed together for more years. It took a heroic effort from Klay Thompson (41 points on 11 threes) in Game 6 to lead Golden State past OKC to a Game 7. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were in their prime years and had an impressive supporting cast with Roberson’s suffocating perimeter defense and Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams’ interior presence. 

19. 1989-90 Detroit Pistons

PG: Isiah Thomas (18.4 PPG, 9.4 APG, 3.8 RPG

SG: Joe Dumars (17.8 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.8 RPG)

SF: Dennis Rodman (8.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 0.9 APG)

PF: Bill Laimbeer (12.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 2.1 APG)

C: James Edwards (14.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.8 APG)


Detroit PistonsThe “Bad Boys’ era was special, and this core of Pistons player gave Detroit back-to-back championships, and held off the Bulls from potentially having an even more insane run during the early 90s. Detroit also loved starting an outrageously physical frontcourt, including James Edwards, Bill Laimbeer, and Dennis Rodman. As far as rebounding and dominating the paint, no team was better than Detroit during those years. Add in Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars in the backcourt, and the “Bad Boy Pistons” had the perfect combination of size, physicality, toughness, and skill.

20. 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs

PG: Tony Parker (11.9 PPG, 5.3 APG, 2.4 RPG)

SG: Danny Green (7.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 APG)

SF: Kawhi Leonard (21.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.6 APG)

PF: LaMarcus Aldridge (18.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.5 APG)

C: Tim Duncan (8.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG)


San Antonio SpursHow stacked were the top teams during the 2015-16 NBA season? The answer is very. The fact that four teams in that season (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Golden State, and Cleveland) have their starting lineups on our Top 25 list is insane. While this Spurs team featured Duncan and Parker, they were at the tail end of their careers, mostly providing experience (IQ) and leadership. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge were still extremely effective for the Spurs, while Danny Green was capable of knocking down the occasional three-pointer. Interestingly enough, it was Green’s worst season in a Spurs jersey, though.

21. 2003-04 Detroit Pistons

PG: Chauncey Billups (16.9 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.7 RPG)

SG: Richard Hamilton (17.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.0 APG)

SF: Tayshaun Prince (10.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.3 APG)

PF: Rasheed Wallace (13.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.8 APG)

C: Ben Wallace (9.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 3.0 BPG)


Detroit PistonsIn an era where San Antonio and Los Angeles were dominating finals wins, Detroit came along and won the league. The Pistons won 54 games, which was the second highest in the division. They were holding teams to just 84.3 points per game, and will go down as one of the best defensive teams in the last 20-30 years. Detroit beat an Indiana team that won over 60 games in the Eastern Conference Finals, before going onto demolish the Lakers in five games. Both Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace averaged a combined five blocks per game that season, while Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups were the go-to offensive players.

22. 2004-05 Phoenix Suns

PG: Steve Nash (15.5 PPG, 11.5 APG, 3.3 RPG)

SG: Quentin Richardson (14.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.0 APG)

SF: Joe Johnson (17.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.5 APG)

PF: Shawn Marion (19.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.9 APG)

C: Amar’e Stoudemire (26.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.6 APG)


phoenix sunsThis was the first of back-to-back MVP seasons for Steve Nash. He was the oldest of this starting five at 30, while the rest of these names were in their early to mid 20s, and heading into the prime production of their respective careers. Mike D’Antoni had this offense rolling, averaging 110.4 points per game, and they had a 114.5 offensive rating. They lead the league in pace at 95.6, which is wild to think that was leading the league when you look at today’s NBA. Phoenix won 62 games, and breezed through the first two series of the playoffs before running into the Spurs, who were a class team of the Western Conference. The Spurs would eventually go on to with the NBA Finals. The Suns won 54 games the next season with a slightly different core, but fell in the Western Finals again.

23. 1993-94 Houston Rockets

PG: Kenny Smith (11.6 PPG, 4.2 APG, 1.8 RPG)

SG: Vernon Maxwell (13.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.1 RPG)

SF: Robert Horry (9.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.9 APG)

PF: Otis Thorpe (14.0 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.3 APG)

C: Hakeem Olajuwon (27.3 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.7 BPG)


houston rockets

The 1993-94 Houston Rockets were the biggest beneficiary of Michael Jordan’s retirement in 1993, stringing together back-to-back NBA Championships during his absence. Hakeem Olajuwon terrorized opponents on both ends of the floor, securing his first and only regular season MVP by putting up 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.7 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game. Olajuwon was not only one of the greatest defenders ever; he also had some of the most impressive footwork of any big man in history. Ultimately, Houston’s bread and butter was on the defensive end, where it held a defensive rating of 101.4.

24. 2017-18 Houston Rockets

PG: Chris Paul (18.6 PPG, 7.9 APG, 5.4 RPG)

SG: James Harden (30.4 PPG, 8.8 APG, 5.4 RPG)

SF: Trevor Ariza (11.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.6 APG)

PF: P.J. Tucker (6.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.9 APG)

C: Clint Capela (13.9 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG)


houston rockets

The team that nearly took down No. 2 on our “Top 25 NBA Starting Lineups of All Time” list: Houston. Chris Paul, James Harden, and company nearly bested the 2017-18 Warriors, which would have likely resulted in a championship; however, an injury to Paul derailed the series, as he missed Games 6 and 7 (both resulted in Warriors wins.) Further, Houston set a record for most consecutive missed three-pointer as a team in Game 7 (27) and still only lost by nine points. This team is amongst the greatest “what if” squads in history.

25. 1996-97 Utah Jazz

PG: John Stockton (14.4 PPG, 10.5 APG, 2.8 RPG)

SG: Jeff Hornacek (14.5 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 RPG)

SF: Byron Russell (10.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.5 APG)

PF: Karl Malone (27.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 4.5 APG)

C: Greg Ostertag (7.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG)


Utah JazzThe Jazz could never get over the hump in the playoffs, but continued to dominate in the West when they had the core of Karl Malone and John Stockton. During the 1996-97 season, the Jazz won 64 games, and had the second-best offensive rating in the league. They managed to sweep the Clippers, defeated a good Lakers team in five games, and prevented the Houston Rockets from getting to their third NBA Finals in four years by knocking them out in six games of the Western Conference Finals; however, they eventually lost to the Bulls in the NBA Finals. Malone was in his prime averaging 27 and 10 that season, while Stockton continued to handout assists at an extreme rate. Both Stockton and Malone are two of the greats who never went on to win a ring.

Drew is one of the NBA Lead Writers at, specializing in betting content such as game predictions and player props. With a deep knowledge of players and prospects, Drew has an extensive edge in covering everything NBA.

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