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ESPN's NBArank rates several Miami Heat players among their NBA peers

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NBArank from ESPN might forecast a couple of surprise contenders for the Miami Heat.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Stein's more traditional power rankings has the Miami Heat finishing third in the Eastern Conference.

NBArank has its own ideas about player rankings that it's releasing day-by-day on Twitter. The results have some surprising implications. Currently they are down to the top-140 players in the NBA. Dividing by 30 teams gives each team about five players on average.

The Heat have exactly five top-140 players. The only Eastern Conference teams with more are the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic with 6. The Magic may be more dangerous than most people give them credit for.

Many times mediocre rotation players let games slip away when the starters need a breather. On the flip side, the bench could eke out wins in very close contests, as the Heat painfully experienced last season:

With the Magic's depth of talent, as seen by the number of players they have in the top-140 NBArank, they could exceed expectations of most "experts" despite their lack of star-power names. They may be the next season's Atlanta Hawks, who went way past pre-season predictions due to their great teamwork.

At the other end of the spectrum the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers have only two top-160 players each. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra may decide to give his bench extra minutes against those teams.

The Golden State Warriors have six top-140 players, so championships deep benches play a big role in surviving just the 82-game regular season. If a team is not lucky and has a key player knocked out during the season, a quality sixth man can help the team reach post-season play, although during the Finals the superstars all have to be at full strength.

The NBArank for Miami Heat players #140 to #400 are:

#161 Justise Winslow
#174 Josh McRoberts
#218 Mario Chalmers
#233 Gerald Green
#237 Chris Andersen
#278 Amar'e Stoudemire
#357 Udonis Haslem
#378 Josh Richardson
#382 Tyler Johnson

To paraphrase Hassan Whiteside, Richardson and Johnson will have to work to get their NBArank up.

The Miami Heat have the average five players within the top-140, after the starting five. The pre-season consensus is the other ten players are of rotation-player quality. But they do have six players between #140 to #300 with the potential to form a solid second unit able to outscore the other team's second units.

For a change the Heat may win games in the second half when the starters are tired and rotation players are in the game. The Cleveland Cavaliers' depth may be an illusion since they will begin the season with a recovering Kyrie Irving and sidelined Iman Shumpert.

Fans are encouraged to join the discussion using the hashtag #NBArank and by following @ESPNNBA on Twitter as well as on Facebook.