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NBA, Top 5, Starting Lineup

NBA: Top 5 starting lineups of the past 20 years

When talking about the deadliest starting lineups the NBA has seen over the past two decades (and perhaps even ever), there’s little doubt that the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors will be at the very top of any list. We will be discussing this championship-winning side more later on, but before that, we also have four other formidable sides that are part of out Top 5 starting lineups over the past 20 years.

5. 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs

Lineup: Tony Parker, Stephen Jackson, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, David Robinson

Season performance: NBA Champions

The frontcourt duo of David Robinson and Tim Duncan will go down in history as one of the most dominant frontcourt pairings of all-time. This was, however, Robinson’s final year in the NBA, and it was clear that Duncan was more than ready to take the torch. It was an MVP year for Duncan (23.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.7 steals, and 2.9 blocks), who led San Antonio to 60 wins that season.

This was also Tony Parker’s sophomore year, and at just 20 years of age, the French international wowed the league by averaging 15.5 points and 5.3 assists, while playing alongside Duncan and Robinson.

4. 2007-08 Boston Celtics

Lineup: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins

Season performance: NBA Champions

Who could forget this Boston Celtics side? Many consider this team to be one of the first superteams in the NBA, and they did not disappoint. The C’s absolutely dominated the regular season, being one of the best offensive and defensive sides in the league. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett would make the East All-Star squad, which was coached by Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. This was Rajon Rondo’s sophomore season, and while he wasn’t in his peak yet this year, we all know that he would go on to be one of the top point guards in Celtics history.

Boston would memorably defeat their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers — then led by season MVP Kobe Bryant — in the Finals, marking the Celtics’ one and only championship in the last 33 years.

3. 2012-13 Miami Heat

Lineup: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh

Season performance: NBA Champions

The Celtics may have coined the Big 3 term in 2007, but it was perhaps the Miami Heat that took it to another level when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach. It was arguably in Year 3 of the Big 3 that the Heat was their most dominant. It was another MVP season for LeBron (26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 1.4 threes), who along with Wade and Bosh, guided the Heat to 66 wins on the season.

It was a hard-fought championship for Miami, who had to go through a formidable Spurs side in the Finals. The icing on top of the cake was that this was the Heat’s second of their memorable back-to-back title runs.

2. 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers

Lineup: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, Horace Grant, Shaquille O’Neal

Season performance: NBA Champions

As far as dominant duos go, few are able to better that of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Their disagreements off the court and O’Neal’s eventual departure are well documented, but before the divorce, they made the Lakers one of the best teams in league history.

The most unforgettable part of L.A.’s dominance this season was their performance in the playoffs. They would win 11 straight games in the West, sweeping the San Antonio Spurs, the Sacramento Kings, and the Portland Trail Blazers on their way to the Finals. They would lose Game 1 against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers, though, but would go on to win the next four games to claim the Lakers’ second out of their three straight championships.

That season, O’Neal averaged 28.7 points (on 57.2 percent shooting), 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.6 steals, and 2.8 blocks. For his part, Kobe put up 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 0.9 triples per contest.

1. 2017-18 Golden State Warriors

Lineup: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia

Season performance: NBA Champions

Was there any doubt that this particular Warriors side was going to be No. 1? The Dubs were already a dynasty even before this season started, winning two out of the last three NBA titles. And then they added Kevin Durant in the mix, and the general consensus was that it wasn’t even fair at this point.

Interestingly, this wasn’t even Golden State’s best lineup, with Andre Iguodala entering the fray to complete the feared “Death Lineup” aka “The Hamptons 5.” This team may not have won 73 games in the regular season, but they made up for it by dominating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals, sweeping the Cavs for Golden State’s third championship in four years.