Where do the Heat rank among the top teams in the East after this deal?
Noah: The Bucks are the overwhelming favorites in the East now. The Celtics are probably right behind them. With the trouble going on in Philly surrounding James Harden, it feels safe to rank the Heat as the third-best team in the East. Miami reached the NBA Finals last year but lost some key role players.
Alex: I see Miami as a top-four team in the Eastern Conference. While Miami does not always have the best regular season record and has finished first once since Jimmy Butler arrived in Miami, having a healthy Butler and Bam Adebayo will put Miami in contention. They’ve made the Eastern Conference Finals in three out of the last four seasons, after all. Let’s also not forget they are coached by one of the best to ever do it, Erik Spoelstra.
Azam: On paper, I’d probably slot Miami in at around five or six, somewhere in the same tier as Cleveland, New York, and Brooklyn. Unfortunately, all of their biggest rivals in the East adjusted their rosters after disappointing playoff showings, and I also have concerns with Miami’s motivation to even get through another regular season with at least a third of the roster knowing they were dangled in trade discussions all summer. They could very well sink further in the regular season standings if they show the same apathy and play with the same languid energy they did much of last season.
Stephanie: I see the Heat still being contenders in the Eastern Conference. If they play smart, with fluidity, and maintain energy throughout, I see Miami being in the top five or six in the standings. Also, having a healthy roster is crucial. People are going to talk, but this team always finds a way to overcome the odds. They made the Eastern Conference finals in three out of the last four seasons and were the only eighth seed to make it to the Finals in 24 years. That’s not something to forget.