Preseason prediction: Magic to take Southeast Division

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Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Southeast Division?"

1. Orlando Magic (10 votes)

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com's TrueHoop: This could be the season Dwight Howard becomes an MVP candidate, so Orlando in an upset over Washington.

Jon Barry, ESPN: Dwight Howard looks like a different player. And his team's ready for a big step, too. Stan Van Gundy's an excellent coach, and Rashard Lewis will be good in tandem with Howard.

Chad Ford, ESPN.com: The addition of Rashard Lewis and the improvement of Dwight Howard give the Magic a potent inside-outside combo. But they lack the depth to make a deep run.

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com: Too many questions with Washington and Miami. The Magic finally have a team that's not destined for first-round elimination.

John Hollinger, ESPN.com: The addition of Lewis and Howard's development should make the Magic formidable foes this season.

Chris Palmer, ESPN Mag: Because they're less likely to cancel each other out, the Howard-Lewis-Nelson trio could end up being better than the one in Boston.

Jack Ramsay, ESPN Radio: Will go up-tempo under Stan Van Gundy while getting improved play by Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson and a big boost from Rashard Lewis.

Jalen Rose, ESPN: With Wade hurt and Shaq not likely to play 82 games, Orlando has more going for it with a new coach.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com: It'd be a better story, of course, if the final playoff spot came down to Stan Van Gundy's Magic and his old team in Miami. More likely, Orlando rides Dwight Howard's improvement and the SVG Effect to the division title.

David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Adding Rashard Lewis and Stan Van Gundy to a playoff team means a lot in a division that changed little from last year. The expected growth of Dwight Howard puts them over the top.

T-2. Miami Heat (4 votes)

J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Ricky Davis adds more punch to the lineup. More unpredictability, too.

Mark Jackson, ESPN:
Ricky Davis gives them a burst on the offensive end. Shaq and Wade still make them formidable.

Keith Lipscomb, ESPN.com Fantasy:
Reluctantly, I go with the Heat. The additions of Ricky D and Blount give them much-needed depth. A second straight 44-win season will be enough.

Kiki Vandeweghe, ESPN: A gamble pick depending on Wade's returns, and if Shaq will last. Shaq's motivated because people think he's old. The Davis-Blount additions help.

T-2. Washington Wizards (4 votes)

Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag: Only injuries kept the Wizards from battling for the East's best record last season.

Ric Bucher, ESPN Mag: By default, with the Heat Wade-less for too long.

Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com: Remember their record before the All-Star game last year? Zero? Hero.

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: Very, very little love for these guys on this page -- hard to fathom with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison in contract years, Darius Songaila healthy and Andray Blatche ready to break out.