On a night that was full of storylines with the Miami Heat, headlined by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo’s triple-doubles, it seems necessary to dive into Tyler Herro’s offensive play. Although I’ve dove into his package a few times in the past, it’s clear that it is developing game by game.
So, here’s a look into what stood out from his performance against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night…
– An evolving pick and roll ability
These are the types of things that Herro wasn’t doing last year, and even to begin this season. He’s becoming much more comfortable with the ball in his hands, especially in pick and roll sets, which has something to do with his new role.
On this play, he utilizes a snake dribble against the screener to find open space in the mid-range for an easy jumper. His mid-range game is probably his biggest strength at the moment, which he can seize when facing the coverages that he has been lately as the sixth man.
The PnR connection with Precious Achiuwa has something to do with it as well, since his burst of energy on the roll every possession makes a defense uncomfortable. And the sets with these two will only increase due to the fact that they enter together most of the time in the first quarter.
– Tight coverage is light coverage for Herro
There isn’t much to breakdown on this specific play, but this shot must be noted. The degree of difficulty to shoot over the top of someone with essentially zero room to work is the type of progression that is occurring right in front of our eyes.
As mentioned previously, he’s beginning to thrive in the mid-range area, but it’s more about him finding his sweet spots. He puts his back to Kyle Guy to fake a backspin slightly, then gets to his favorite spot on the floor.
And once again, that’s a shot that many players his size aren’t capable of making, but also a shot that not many players his size would attempt.
– Slight hesitation to an uncontested layup
This was probably Herro’s most impressive play of the night, when evaluating all of the elements.
He gives a slight hesitation while driving baseline, and while many may point to the space he gets with the guy on his hip, it pauses defenders on the backside as well. Hassan Whiteside froze when Herro gave that fake, leading to a reverse layup with ease.
Once again, these are the minor areas that are improving night by night, but due to the focus being in other areas lately, it hasn’t been discussed.
– Natural offensive feel
Now, this isn’t much of an improvement for Herro, since he’s been doing this since his rookie season. But, it’s still something that points to his natural offensive feel and IQ.
Cutting off the ball was a theme for all of the players on Miami last night, since they were overplaying the three point line leading to easy layups. On this play, though, this wasn’t a set play, it was just natural instinct. Herro notices De’Aaron Fox falling asleep, so he cuts immediately to the basket, and of course Butler finds him.
Adjusting on the fly is something Herro really improved in the bubble when he began to receive more attention, and it’s taking off once again.
– Great touch at the rim using the backboard
Herro’s ability to utilize the glass when attacking the basket with immaculate touch has been a real surprise in his growth. As I’ve mentioned quite a lot, that’s not something young players typically do, especially in today’s NBA. It could have something to do with his unique offensive game, or possibly something he picked up from veteran teammate, Goran Dragic.
On this play, he has a one-on-one opportunity with a big, Marvin Bagley, and takes it right up on him with his off-hand. Shooting across his body, tossing it underhand, using the left. It’s all on display on this possession.
And surprisingly, using the glass nowadays is actually tougher to defend, since most players are so use to all-net floaters when guarding a player off the dribble. It’s another element to diversify his offensive package, as discussed previously.
– Explosiveness off the dribble
When Herro was drafted by the Heat, I don’t think many people expected him to have the amount of explosion that he has at this point in his career. Now, this isn’t to highlight a great play, since it’s clear the Kings defensive weaknesses is the biggest takeaway from this play, but it furthers improvements we’ve seen from Herro.
For one, instead of utilizing a Butler screen, he notices that the paint is wide open with Whiteside playing high on Adebayo. He immediately gives a great cross-over, exploding right past his defender, while beating Whiteside to the rim.
As the hesitation move was highlighted earlier, these moves that we’re seeing off the dribble are allowing him to thrive as a scorer at the rim. And once defenses begin to plan for that come playoff time, he will have added opportunities beyond the arc once again.
– Pull-up triples beginning to fall once again
The reason for Herro’s three point shooting being down to begin the season didn’t have anything to do with catch and shoot attempts. It was actually the pull-up triples that were down from his rookie season.
And although that’s been his biggest weakness lately, it can also be his biggest strength once perfected. Pull-up threes are linked to one word and one word only: confidence. And that’s a word that has been linked to him since he entered the league. When he’s in a natural scoring flow, he has more bounce on those attempts, while off nights lead to those shots being a bit flat footed.
On this play, they switch on the screen while Herro has more than enough room to pull, and he does just that. And as I just described, take a look at the amount of bounce he has on this very shot. It’s all about confidence.
Once again, Herro utilizes the pull-up, which is even more useful when a defense is playing this deep of a drop coverage.
Right as Herro took his first dribble, you can tell he knew that he was shooting it, and as Kyle Guy went under the screen, he shot it up with as much bounce as the last possession. Once these shots begin to fall at a good percentage, his numbers will increase even more.
– The next step in his game
As I just dove into the mechanical things in Herro’s game, there’s one element that must come next: Getting to the free throw line. With the amount of times he’s driving to the basket in the second unit, the free throw attempts should improve.
When he usually drives to the basket, he avoids contact, which leads to his constant circus shot attempts at the rim that usually find a way of dropping in. On this play, he goes right at the chest of his defender to draw contact, getting the foul call and the basket.
Once he begins to do this consistently, that rounds out his scoring abilities completely. This doesn’t mean that he has to be a Butler-level contact finder, since there’s nobody in the NBA who can do it to that extent. But periodically, taking it up strong at the rim instead of attempting an up-and-under, may be beneficial in the long run.