The Portland Trail Blazers will likely have a new starting lineup when play in Orlando begins. Not only have former starters Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic returned from their respective injuries, but the absence of Trevor Ariza will necessitate a new starting small forward as well. The possible starting lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic was ranked as the 14th-best starting five in Orlando by Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz:
We know the three-man combo of Lillard, McCollum and Anthony has been solid this season (3.3 net rating), and the four-man unit of Lillard, McCollum, Collins and Nurkic was quite good together last year (12.1 net rating), albeit in just 44 total minutes.
Expecting Nurkic to pick up where he left off after a serious leg injury is unfair, and this starting lineup may not be at its best until the playoffs begin—should it make it that far.
Portland’s starters are above Phoenix (15) and below Sacramento (13) in the rankings. The top-ranked starting five is the New Orleans Pelicans’ lineup of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Derrick Favors. Williamson recently left the NBA’s bubble due to a family emergency, but expects to return at a later date.
You can read more from the starting five rankings here.