Most teams and head coaches already know what their starting lineup is going to be next season, with training camp and preseason giving a chance for fringe players to make the roster and for rotations and minute distributions to be determined. However, some teams, like the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons still need to figure out a position or two.
For example, the Warriors have Andre Iguodala forcing someone to hit the bench. The return of Chauncey Billups makes it a competition for the shooting guard spot in Detroit, while there’s also quite a lot of competition in Houston regarding who partners with Dwight Howard in the lineup.
Detroit Pistons – Shooting Guard
It’s either going to be Rodney Stuckey or Chauncey Billups who get to start next to Brandon Jennings in the lineup, even though both of them are capable of playing point guard as well. Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is out of the lineup picture for now, understandably, and so is Kyle Singler. Judging by their ability at the moment, Stuckey should have the edge.
Houston Rockets – Power Forward
Omer Asik is going to get minutes next to Dwight Howard, but he’s their only reliable backup at center, which means he won’t be starting, no matter what. So the battle is going to be between Terrence Jones, who averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds last season, and Donatas Motiejunas, who started for the Rockets in their preseason opener. Unless something changes, the Lithuanian big man should win the starting spot he occupied for a while last season.
Washington Wizards – Small Forward
Rookie Otto Porter Jr. is still injured, giving a chance for both Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster to try and prove during the preseason that they’re good enough to start for another season. Webster is the better shooter, but coaches like more defense and rebounding in their starting lineup, which should be giving Ariza the edge.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Small Forward
Their weakest position, with the options of Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles. Once again, like in Washington, Clark’s defense and probably being the slightly more versatile player than the other two might give him the edge over Gee and Miles.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Small Forward
On paper, there are three players competing for the job: Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams. Williams has been a disappointment so far in his career, and Rick Adelman isn’t his biggest fan. Budinger is a useful scorer to have from the bench, but Brewer seems to have the advantage among the three, also starting in their most recent preseason game.
Golden State Warriors – Shooting Guard or Small Forward
Andre Iguodala can play both positions for the Warriors, but the question is who gets left out: Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson. Going by what we’ve been seeing in the preseason so far from Thompson, he seems like the most likely player to retain his starting spot.