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The NBA’s Best Starting Five May Not Be Who You Think

Ben Degani

The Boston Celtics’ starting five for the 2023-24 NBA Season.

What makes a strong NBA team? Well, that's not a very simple question to answer. In fact, I would go as far as saying that there are several key components to a championship roster: chemistry, good coaching, as well as a constructed offensive and defensive scheme, and even a little luck. However, above all is a starting five that is nothing short of symphonic. A harmony of players that mixes together talent, experience, and playing roles that need to be filled. I closely examined each and every NBA team in this 2023 to 2024 season, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I found my pick.


The best place to start would be with our honorable mention — a team that shows a lot of potential but doesn't quite have it figured out yet. For this, the New Orleans Pelicans (NOLA) fit the bill. Starting things with NOLA, they have a great core of guys. Zion Willamson has finally decided to play basketball and is doing very well, averaging 22-5-5 with fairly good efficiency. Coming off the trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, C.J. McCollum is having one of his best seasons to date, with increases in assists, rebounds and steals by good margins and consistency in scoring. Herbert Jones and Jonas Valencunis are also very solid role players who will occasionally step up and consistently carry their weight. Bringing it all together is all-star and most improved player Brandon Ingram, having so far his greatest season to date averaging 23-5-5. So, where do these guys go wrong? They seem to really have it together until taking a closer look. I’m not the first to say that Zion looks like a shell of his collegiate self. His double chins are nearing the double digits, and although stats back him up, it looks like he struggles to get up and down the court, rarely seeing any bursts of athleticism on the offensive and defensive end. In addition, McCollum suffered a lung injury and missed extended time, only making his return recently, which halted their offense quite a bit. He is also having efficiency issues, with McCollum being 40 percent from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc. All that being said, the blueprint is laid out, and I can see the currently ninth seeded Pelicans climb back up to seven or sixth — potentially making deep runs in the future.

Before moving on to the best starting five in the league, it's worth mentioning the Los Angeles Clippers. If you told me in 2017 that James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George would be on the same team, I would’ve questioned your reasoning. But alas, it's 2023, and we're seeing this roster straight from 2K come to fruition. Now the glaring drawback is that all of these players are ball dominant shooting guards or small forwards who are way beyond their primes. But let this still serve as living proof that anything is possible.

Now, after reviewing each of the top teams in the league, the best starting five in the NBA is the Boston Celtics. Even if you don’t consider yourself a big NBA fan, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The team has no weaknesses. MVP caliber player Jason Tatum coupled with all-star Jaylen Brown, have been one of the most high scoring and electrifying duos in the NBA, and their chemistry on the court is very evident. New additions Kristaps Porzingus and Jrue Holiday complement the lineup and each other perfectly. Kristaps Porzingus lives up to his nickname “the Unicorn '' not only for his towering figure but his distinctive playstyle. Averaging 19-6-2 with 55 percent from the field, Jrue Holiday is also the best perimeter defender in the league right now and an absolute necessity to any championship roster. He did it with Giannis, and it seems history is bound to repeat itself, as he’s averaging 13-7-5 with a steal and a block a game. 

Furthermore, Derrick White is an underrated role player who has shown several times that he can step up, averaging nearly 50 percent from the three on multiple instances. While Jayson Tatum continues to show improvement with an average of 28-9-4, he hasn’t quite grasped the championship trophy yet. Along the same lines, Jaylen Brown is an excellent second option averaging 22-5-3, but has failed to win a championship.

Despite this, not much else can be said against this Celtics team. On paper, they have it all this year. Talent, chemistry, and a flawless balance of playstyles and skillsets. However, one issue that the Celtics need to overcome to make the final push for gold is efficiency. No player is averaging more than 60 percent true shooting percentage, an advanced statistic that measures a player's efficiency. But time and time again, the NBA shows that simply having the numbers on your side isn't enough, and although Boston is No.1 in the East at 16-5, only time will tell if they can finally bring it home in the postseason.


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