Post trade deadline Tyler Herro was out in full effect on Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Miami Heat had only 9 available players last night, while one of the guys out was Heat’s star Jimmy Butler, it was clear that Tyler Herro was going to need to step up as a scorer.
He not only did that, but he continued to show flashes in all facets of the game, which will be highlighted here. Although this game was a loss, it was a moral win, which is what we’re going to dive into here regarding Herro.
– The play-making abilities shine
One or two clips from last night’s game wouldn’t be able to fully explain the play-making strides that are being made. To start it off, he checks in the game in the first quarter, and immediately receives the ball on an off-ball screen to get downhill.
As Trevor Ariza’s man tries to eliminate that immediately, Herro makes a great read to pass it across his body back to the wing. Some of the issues involving his play-making lately has been the need to force certain passes, especially when he seems afraid to shoot. But that wasn’t the case last night, since he played with as much of a flow as ever.
As the game progressed and the number of attacks for Herro increased, which will be discussed later, the defense began to collapse. A lot.
On this particular play, all eyes are on Herro as he penetrates against the drop, which is his favorite time to attack the basket and play-make. A key element here is the patience he has when he gets to the basket, since that has been another area of struggle. He also doesn’t get stuck in the air, which leads to a perfect bounce pass and a perfect dunk.
Now, this sequence was by far the most impressive passing by Herro of the game, and maybe all season.
He runs a high pick and roll as both defenders try and trap, which pretty much leaves an open rolling Bam Adebayo, forcing the defense to rotate. Except, Herro didn’t make the pass to Adebayo on the roll, mostly since McCollum edged over and they probably would’ve recovered. He threw a cross-court pass to Gabe Vincent for a great look, which ended in three points.
The second play wasn’t as much Herro instincts since it was a designed play, but it’s still important to highlight. There’s a certain trust level in him to make these reads, especially in the fourth quarter of games when he is at his best.
Here’s another designed play where Duncan Robinson bunches up with Adebayo, as he goes to the three point line and Adebayo sets the screen for Herro into a pick and roll.
Yet another situation where Erik Spoelstra is putting the decision making in Herro’s hands, which is what he tends to do even more often when they’re without key players, since he wants him to take the reigns.
Herro reads the personnel well, since it’s an athletic freak rolling to the basket wearing that blue and pink, while a slow footed Enes Kanter is defending. He lobs it up and Adebayo throws it down, which was a bit risky at this back and forth point of the game.
– The two different aspects of his mid-range game
There are two elements to Herro’s evolving mid-range game, and the first one was on display here. And that element is separation, since it’s an ongoing discussing regarding his need for a constant screener.
When taking a look at this possession, there’s a slight dip he gives before pulling back, which gives him a total advantage. Once he develops these slight movements as a creator, which develops over time, it’ll make all the difference.
Herro mentioned in the past that he has watched film on his past two match-ups, Devin Booker and CJ McCollum, which is exactly what I asked him about following yesterday’s game:
I asked Tyler Herro about matching up with Booker and McCollum the past two games, and what he wants to try and mirror from their games
— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) March 26, 2021
The second element to Herro in the mid-range area is embracing the contact. This also is important to note when addressing his attacking abilities, since he seems to avoid contact often when shooting the ball, which could end up on a highlight reel or fast-break points for the opposing team.
After taking the contact on this play, he flows into a floater, which has been something he’s trusted a lot more lately. Decision making is very essential for young players, and that has a lot to do with choosing between different types of shot attempts. And the second level basically forces players to make quick decisions on their shots.
– Developing that gravity
The word gravity is used quite frequently when discussing this Heat team, either with Robinson beyond the arc or Butler on the drive. But sequences like this show clear flashes that Herro has a capability of holding a great amount of gravity on a defense.
The first clip shows Herro receiving the ball to begin the play, and he immediately pulls it since nobody is defending him. The second clip is the following play, which looks a whole lot different from the last one. He gets the ball in the same exact spot, except this time both defenders blitz him in the PnR, leading to an easy dunk for Adebayo.
– The downfall: the snake dribble
Although this possession ended in a bucket for Kendrick Nunn, the overuse of the snake dribble for Herro has been quite apparent. Most of the time when running a PnR, he either avoids the screen to go the opposite direction, or do what he did here.
Miami’s two bigs, Adebayo and Precious Achiuwa, are energetic and athletic figures as above the rim threats on the roll, but this one movement basically eliminates that. It creates poor spacing most of the time, since the defense knows how to cut it off, due to it probably headlining the film session early in the day.
It could have something to do with that mid-range confidence and contact layup hesitance that forces it, but either way it is something that must be addressed to maximize his offensive abilities.
Now, let’s take a look what happens when he flows normally in a pick and roll set. He patiently waits for the screen then explodes toward the basket, and as the defender lags behind, he goes immediately into that floater I discussed previously.
Not only is that floater hard to guard from the center’s perspective, but more importantly it puts the recovering guard in an awkward situation, which as seen here led to a foul. If this becomes his primary attribute in a PnR while sprinkling snake dribbles to find dead spots, it leads to a much cleaner offense.
– Some iso flashes?
A major reason the Victor Oladipo acquisition was so crucial was due to the lack of on-ball creators on this team’s current roster. But if Herro can bring that element even slightly off the bench, it absolutely changes everything for their offense.
That little step back to the left that was seen on the play above is one of his shots that he finds the most rhythm. And although the need for separation beyond the arc wasn’t even created on this play, he showed his ability to knock down contested jumpers, which honestly seem to be more natural than the wide open ones at this stage.
– Oh, by the way, the confidence is back
Confidence and Tyler Herro go together like country music and Jimmy Butler. And when he’s attempting shots from the logo in a tight game in the fourth quarter, it’s pretty obvious that confidence is fully back.
If it has something to do with escaping the trade deadline or not, this team just majorly needed that confidence and joy for the game to return for him. When diving into the mechanics of this play a bit more, it has everything to do with the one element I discuss every time involving Herro’s jumper: his lift.
When he rises up over the top of defenders like this, a miss becomes a rare occurrence. And the next thing that should become rare is Herro shying away from the ball throughout the game, since even though Butler and Oladipo will be added in pretty soon, this team needs their young spark to continue firing.