The NBA is all about championships, and the best way to win a championship is to have the best five-man lineup in the league. Employing the best player in the world gives you a tremendous margin for error, but even the best players in the world need four guys they can count on.
Instead of diving straight into the top five five-man lineups for the 2023-24 season, we'll take a look at four lineups that just missed the cut.
Honorable mentions for best lineup
Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Yuta Wantanabe?, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic
Any lineup with Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant is going to light the world on fire. However, the Suns’ supporting talent is a little wanting. Jusuf Nurkic’s passing will help their three-headed shot-making monster get cleaner looks, but he is a pitiful finisher around the rim for a center and is a poor defender. The lack of a clear-cut fifth starter is also a concern. Can Yuta Watanabe carry over his career-best 3-point shooting? Does Eric Gordon have anything left in the tank? Can you really have Grayson Allen defend wings? The Suns, assuming some semblance of health, will be awesome, but right now, there are a few too many questions to throw them in the top five.
Los Angeles Lakers: D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt, Anthony Davis
The Lakers’ five-man lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Anthony Davis only played 77 minutes together last season, but they were a glorious 77 minutes. The unit sported a plus-21.6 net rating, a 126.5 offensive rating, and a 104.9 defensive rating, per pbpstats. So why are they not in the top five? Those 77 glorious minutes came with a heaping helping of luck. The quintet combined to shoot 52.2 percent from 3-point range and held their opponents to 28.6 percent. This might be a great unit, but when regression hits, it won’t continue to break basketball.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Mike Conley, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gobert
The four-man lineup of Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, and Rudy Gobert without Mike Conley was dyn-O-mite during the regular season. They posted a plus-10.2 net rating, a 116.2 offensive rating, and a 106.0 defensive rating in 353 minutes. While their net rating (plus-6.8) and defensive rating (115.4) suffered with Conley in the mix, their offensive kicked into another gear (122.1). With an offseason to iron out the kinks, this unit should be absolutely deadly, even if it’s absent arguably Minnesota’s best player– Karl-Anthony Towns. Which is the main reason it isn’t in the top five.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Last season, the quarter of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen shared the floor for 871 minutes and sported a plus-8.91 net rating, 121.8 offensive rating, and 112.9 defensive rating. That level of excellence and sample size all but guarantees this unit will be one of the league’s best. Max Strus is an upgrade over last season’s small forward rotation, but he’s a tad undersized at 6-foot-5 and is just a good 3-point shooter (career 37.1 percent), not a great one.
With the honorable mentions out of the way, let's go take a look at the top five five-man lineups for the 2023-24 season.
Note: All net ratings, offensive ratings, and defensive ratings are via PBPstats, while overall team ranking is via NBA.com. PBPstats and NBA.com have slightly different net ratings, offensive ratings, and defensive ratings.