Miami Heat Face Multiple Battles at Key Positions Heading Into Preseason

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Although the NBA season starts in less than one month, the Miami Heat have yet to figure out a few key dilemmas. Of the couple questions, one is who will start at the forward positions when the season starts?

Longtime Heat insider Barry Jackson, of the Miami Herald, reported Sunday that the team still doesn’t know who will start at the key positions:

“So who starts at small forward?

“We’re told this is a complete toss-up, with Justise WinslowJosh Richardson and dark horse Rodney McGruder all having a legitimate chance.”

Although Winslow, the prized lottery pick in 2015, would appear to make the most sense, the Heat were an abysmal 3-12 when he started last season. McGruder, an undrafted rookie last year, was actually productive, leading the Heat to a 36-29 record in his time in the startling lineup.

The other forward position, the power forward slot, is up for grabs as well. James Johnson and Kelly Olynk, who both scored long-term deals with Heat, are the main competitors for the spot. Jackson laid out some convincing points for why either guy could capture the position:

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“Johnson and Hassan Whiteside played 1042 minutes together last season, eighth-most on the team for a two-man pairing. And the Heat outscored teams by 104 points in those minutes, which was third-best on the team for two-man combos.

“The Heat shot 47 percent from the field and 37 percent on threes when they played together. So those two have good chemistry and the coaching staff knows it.

“Olynk has started 36 games and come off the bench in 242. His scoring and rebounding numbers are slightly better as a starter, which is mostly a byproduct of playing more minutes as a starter.

“But it’s notable that when he starts, he shoots about one percentage point better (48.7), two percentage points better on threes (38.4) and five percentage points better on free throws (78.4). That could be merely a coincidence.”

Johnson only started in five games, versus coming off the bench 71 times, for the Heat last season. Yet, the 6-foot-9 freight train averaged 18.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists in his time with the starting five.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding who head coach Erik Spoelstra will give the starting nods to once training camp is over; however, it’s a great problem to have many viable options to choose from.
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Born and raised in South Florida, Justin has always been a passionate Miami Heat fan. An avid supporter from the time Miami got its first championship in 2006 to having a league-worst 15-67 record in 2008 to the whole LeBron James era until now, Justin has seen and stuck through it all. His all-around analysis and heart for the game has made him a premier NBA writer. He writes for a variety of sites but his commitment to the Heat is always top priority.