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Preseason power rankings place Miami in good, but not great place

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Commentators continue to underestimate the organic growth of the Heat into a playoff force.

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Initial, way-too-early power rankings predict a significant reordering in the NBA Eastern Conference standings. CBS Sports pegs the Miami Heat as an average team at the 14th spot.

Went all in on a team that got hot for two months then fell apart when Dion Waiters went down....A gamble, but this may become an East playoff team, whatever that means.

The bottom five teams all reside in the East: #26 Brooklyn Nets, #27 Indiana Pacers, #28 Orlando Magic, #29 Chicago Bulls, #30 Atlanta Hawks. When the Nets and New York Knicks rate above three other teams that made the playoffs last season, it’s time for certain GM’s to find other day jobs.

Just converting the losses from last season against the Pacers, Magic, Bulls, and Hawks into victories, could mean a 50 win season for Miami this time around. The Hawks at #30 certainly shocks Atlanta’s fans.

In the fivethirtyeight article, Do The Celtics Have Enough Star Power To Win a Title? Not Yet, the site rates Giannis Antetokounmpo as the second best player in East, after LeBron James. Hassan Whiteside is the only Heat guy mentioned as an alpha, beta or gamma player, and he barely made the list with a 2.0 score. The Milwaukee Bucks might be the sleeper team in the East next season.

In his rookie season, Kelly Olynyk received more votes than Antetokounmpo for the All-Rookie team, so Kelly has some catching up to fulfill his early promise. (By the way Sergio Ramos traded his headband in for a beard.)

Dion Waiters made the 2013 All-Rookie First Team, along with Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard. Hopefully he’ll reach his potential this season to carry the Heat into a deep playoff run.

Among the few new faces this season Bam Adebayo, has turned heads in Summer League with his nifty moves. A word of caution from Steve Kerr though. In his piece, The Case for the 20-Year-Old Age Limit in the NBA, he advocates patience on how fast to push teenagers into the NBA.

Adebayo suffered the same high ankle sprain last summer that took down Markelle Fultz. The last thing Miami needs is another Josh McRoberts unfulfilled potential story.

He’s had a high ankle sprain, and they’ve been very, you know, careful with that. He’s working now, but it is only one-on-one.

They don’t want him in a game of 5 (on-5) just in case. He’s just coming back from it.

Rushing the 19 year-old Justise Winslow from 40 games in Duke to 78 NBA games cost him most of last season, when the strains of growing into manhood caught up to his body. By now his wrist, shoulder and ankles have matured to a point where he’ll silence his many critics with a breakout season.

The Heat, Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets are fairly evenly bunched for next season. Where they finally shake out will depend mostly on who stays the healthiest after 82 games. But then, Pat Riley hinted the Heat have assets who could be moved to change the picture as time goes on.