Orlando Magic stuck in between: Eastern Conference Power Rankings

3 of 7
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers, Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic
Joel Embiid scored 50 points and made it look easy as the Orlando Magic were left staggered by individual brilliance. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Preseason Eastern Conference Power Rankings

More Title Contenders

. . Philadelphia 76ers. 3. team. 93.

It is impossible to ignore the star power in the league. And that is what is going to keep the Philadelphia 76ers in title contention. And with a full season with both stars in the fold to build around, Philadelphia knows it has to be now or never for the group.

The Sixers’ experiment pairing James Harden and Joel Embiid had some solid results even if they came late in the season and with Harden still getting himself back into elite playing shape after his time in Brooklyn.

Philadelphia knows its window is open right now. And the Sixers need to strike. But they have to find a balance too. Embiid is an MVP candidate right now and this team should be accomplishing more.

The 76ers will have to do better figuring out how all their pieces fit together with the solid scoring they usually get from Tobias Harris and the upstart point guard play they get from Tyrese Maxey fitting in with James Harden’s heavy iso ball.

Adding De’Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker will help with the team’s shooting problems. But Philadelphia probably needs some more effective role players to get into the title picture beyond their stars.

. Miami Heat. 4. team. 110. .

The Miami Heat are feeling a lot of disrespect this offseason. And this ranking is not going to help matters.

The Heat were an Eastern Conference finalist that came a Jimmy Butler 3-pointer away from their second finals in three seasons. They were the top seed in the Eastern Conference last year.

Yet, nobody is talking about them as a potential title contender this season. They seem to be an afterthought throughout the Eastern Conference.

Some of that is they have not done a ton of heavy lifting this offseason — acquiring Donovan Mitchell or Kevin Durant might change that. They lost a key defender in P.J. Tucker this season. And Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry showed some of their age last year.

The Heat culture is a real thing. And Miami should be good enough to compete at a high level just based on that. The Heat pick their players carefully and everyone seems to fit in to their roles perfectly. They have great role players who step up at the right moments.

But everything still centers around Butler and his stardom — he just knows how to step up his play in the biggest moments. And the team needs Bam Adebayo to be a much bigger player to take those important next steps.