Most basketball players, at some point in their lives, want to be starters. There's just something innately satisfying about that designation.
For plenty of teams, there's at least an argument that the starting five isn't the most important lineup, though. A lot of squads finish with different players, and that's the focus today.
Generally speaking, modern closing lineups need to be fast, versatile and able to switch all over the floor. We can thank the dynastic Golden State Warriors for that.
But not every team will close small (or small-ish). Some don't have the personnel. Some have it, but the philosophical advantages don't outweigh the sheer talent of bigger groups.
Teams are sure to experiment throughout the year, but these are the closing fives that make the most sense for everyone right now.
- Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Andre Hunter and John Collins
Trae Young and Dejounte Murray are givens. They're the two best players on the Atlanta Hawks, and even if they're both used to being ball-dominant, they're also unselfish enough to figure it out.
Young's range should widen driving lanes for Murray. The other side of the coin is Murray's slashing pulling defenders inside and giving Young a few more catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Surrounding those two with as much shooting as possible should be the goal from there. De'Andre Hunter shot 37.9 percent from deep last season. Bogdan Bogdanovic is at 38.4 percent for his career, and he adds a dash of playmaking, too.
Having that much shooting and creation around a big like John Collins, who can score as either a roll man or floor-spacer, is going to be impossible to defend.
- Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford
Robert Williams III is going to be out for 8-12 weeks because of arthroscopic surgery on his knee, but the Boston Celtics' best closing lineup might still include him once he's healthy.
But the group above, which includes the recently acquired Malcolm Brogdon, brings more playmaking, shooting and switchability.
All three of those boxes are checked, to varying degrees, at all five spots.
The lineup also features Defensive Player of the Year-level defense from Marcus Smart, MVP candidate potential from Jayson Tatum and 15 years of experience from Al Horford.
One more developmental leap from Jaylen Brown, particularly as a ball-handler, decision-maker and passer, and the Celtics could certainly make a return trip to the Finals.
- Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons
It's long felt like the ideal setup for Ben Simmons would be to play him as a point center surrounded by shooting. The Brooklyn Nets can absolutely give him that.
The fit with Simmons, Seth Curry and Joe Harris is obvious.
Simmons is one of the most prolific creators of three-point shots in the league.
Curry and Harris, meanwhile, are third and fourth in NBA history in career three-point percentage.
Having all three on the floor together will be nightmarish for opponents.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, of course, are also among the game's best shooters, but there will be more of an adjustment period for them with Simmons. All three are used to handling the ball, but once the proper balance is struck, this lineup has the potential to be the most offensively potent in basketball.
- LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Cody Martin, Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington
Kelly Oubre Jr. probably has an argument to be in this group, but there's already a lot of usage tied up in LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. Going with Cody Martin gives them a low-usage forward who's more committed to defense and shot 38.4 percent from three last season.
P.J. Washington makes more sense than the traditional centers because he can keep the floor spread for playmaking from Ball, Hayward and Rozier.
The success or failure of this group largely rests on the shoulders of Ball, though. After averaging 20.1 points, 7.6 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 threes in 32.3 minutes last season, he looks ready for a superstar leap (if he hasn't already taken it).