Only time will tell who will start at power forward for the Miami Heat

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 9: Kelly Olynyk
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 9: Kelly Olynyk /

For now, the Miami Heat’s power forward starting spot is still up for grabs.

Kelly Olynyk stood tall alongside Hassan Whiteside yet again on Monday night, in a 109-106 win against the Charlotte Hornets.

Despite generally finding himself at the five-spot.

Because while most of the Miami Heat’s starting lineup is already set in stone, only time will tell who’s going to start at power forward.

"“Whoever starts I’m not there yet right now,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said during Monday’s shootaround. “When I play James Johnson at that position I do not feel that we’re small. Ever. His wingspan is over 7 feet. He’s every bit a 7 footer as everybody else. Kelly has a different skill set and his ability to shoot and make plays off the dribble, we like that. We feel that’s a great fit and can be a good fit with our group of a second unit or he can play alongside Hassan.”"

There are certainly pros and cons to starting either James Johnson or Olynyk.

On the one hand, Johnson hasn’t exactly flourished as a starter. He scored only two points in both the Heat’s win over the Atlanta Hawks and loss to the Brooklyn Nets, grabbing a total of just six rebounds between the two matchups. And while his numbers only somewhat increased coming off the bench in a loss against the Orlando Magic (8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists), it was clear he was much more comfortable.

Getting even more into his groove on Monday, finishing with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 24 minutes.

But Olynyk is a newbie, which means he hasn’t yet developed chemistry with his teammates. And he too, hasn’t had the most impressive preseason run. Especially at power forward. He finished Saturday evening versus the Magic with 2 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.

Monday night was a different story though. Olynyk recorded 13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 29 minutes. Obviously already getting a better feel for the guys.

"“It’s not like we went with two power centers [Saturday in Orlando] and are trying to beat somebody up down low circa 1995,” Spoelstra explained. “That wasn’t the lineup at all. The more important thing was I thought their skill sets complement each other, and having Kelly out there regardless of the lineup helps your flow because of his IQ and his unique skill set.”"

However, Spoelstra isn’t worried about Johnson either.

"“I’m not concerned about JJ. He’s so selfless right now. He’s trying to make sure everybody else feels comfortable.​”"

So who’s going to end up playing the four?

With two preseason contests left, Spoelstra still has time to test out a few things. But as of Monday night, it seems Olynyk may have the advantage.

Johnson averaged 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals a game in 27.4 minutes of play last year, coming off the bench in 76 of 81 matchups. Career-high stats, across the board. He made up half of The Brothers Johnson duo, the other half being Tyler Johnson, who put up Sixth Man of the Year numbers himself.

Clearly, he thrived as part of the second unit. Which is why it’s no surprise he had this to say, about coming off the bench in Orlando.

"“I think in all three preseason games so far I felt the best in the last one against Orlando. It’s something I’ve got to work on. I’ve got a new role when I start and I’ve just got to figure it out, figure out how to be better.”"

Next: Miami Heat still toying with lineups, using preseason as testing grounds

The Miami Heat will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 PM ET.