Tyler Herro: The Art of the Mid-Range

“For my first two years, a lot of people said that’s an inefficient shot,” said Tyler Herro on Friday night following a mid-range jumper master class.

“After watching the Finals, you saw Booker and Chris Paul, you saw how they worked the mid-range and got to their spots, but they were really efficient in those areas. That was an emphasis we had all Summer, working on that and being able to be efficient, not just take those shots, but make them.”

Herro has always been a bit different from the rest. When there was no doubt he would be attending the University of Wisconsin after graduating high school, he ended up shifting to play at Kentucky for a better opportunity.

When people doubted him on the floor, he continued to play his role and be a huge piece of a team that made the NBA Finals in his rookie year.

And now, when many love to look at the stats for shots around the rim and three-point bombs, he’s finding that middle ground.

As Herro said after the game, that Phoenix Suns team with Booker and Paul may have changed some people’s opinion following their play-style in the post-season. Against drop coverage, it’s a killer attribute to have that pull-up at the elbow that Herro utilized his first and second year in the league.

But to truly be effective from that area, you must have that creative blend that Phoenix duo had last season. And well, Herro’s already showcasing flashes of that development.

So, what is exactly the difference? Here are some examples…

Spacing Understanding

When watching the flurry of mid-range shots from Herro against San Antonio, it’s clear what his approach is: finding dead spots, finding dead spots, and finding even more dead spots.

Like I mentioned earlier, when running the normal pick and roll against drop, there are spaces on the floor that are being handed to you. But many defenses can live with the “inefficient” long two on a consistent basis through 48 minutes. Well, at least when they’re clanking off the rim.

Herro is at his best when those spots on the floor are being given to him, mostly due to that mental block disappearing. What I mean by that is it almost feels like a wide open jumper in an open gym when he slides inside the arc. His defender is most likely way behind, while he has the dropping big essentially in his palm.

Snake dribbles, calm positioning, and a simple rise-up with nobody in sight. That is the formula.

The interesting wrinkle to this is that we’ve seen some positive flashes when the defense is switching as well. In the first clip above, he flows to his left following the switch and uses his momentum to get a shot off with his typical right to left step-back: bucket.

This is a new Herro. Combining downhill pull-up savviness against drop with comfortable maneuvers against switches is picture perfect for his game. And it’s pretty clear that two on-court focuses this off-season were mid-range efficiency and added layers in those areas.

The Go-To Without a Screen

A common topic with Herro’s offensive game has been the amount of separation he can create. We’ve seen his way of manipulating screens from possession to possession, but with the clock ticking down late in the shot clock, can he create a bucket for himself in isolation consistently?

That will always be about the added combos that he can use before rising up for a shot, but it seems like Herro is almost finding middle ground in a sense.

Take a look at the first two clips above. It’s not that he’s creating a bunch of separation on these plays, but he’s getting good shots off in a different way: rising up over defenders while they’re still planted on the ground.

His new way of doing it is keeping defenders on their toes a bit more, waiting for his next move. Not knowing when that pull-up is coming goes a long way, especially when your release point is as high as Herro’s on those type of shots.

And now, take a look at the last clip. Herro is looking so much more comfortable when he gets the favorable switch against opposing bigs. At first glance, that possession didn’t look much different than past years. Three simple cross-overs before bursting back right for that fall-away jumper.

But well, take a look at that clip again.

Yes, the dribble combos are simple, but there’s a common denominator between all three of these plays without a screen: his hesitations. He’s using these hesitation dribbles to get to the spots he wants on the floor, and that can be a major difference maker.

Of course it’s only the preseason, but this can also be looked at like defenders won’t be able to help as freely if Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, and company are all on the floor with him.

Probing Dribbles and Fade-away Jumpers

After discussing Herro’s ability to find dead-spots, use hesitation dribbles, and fade-away from defenders with confidence, this is pretty much a combination of all of that.

We’ve talked about the deep twos and elbow pull-ups, but finding ways to be an “attacker” without actually being at the rim every play is huge. One way he has gone about that is with the floater. It allows him to break down the defense a bit deeper, while also minimizing the odds of the shot being blocked.

And most importantly, it’s something he’s comfortable with. Tyler Herro just has to be Tyler Herro. If he’s most comfortable with the one handed push shot, then shoot one handed push shots.

But something else has entered the equation.

Herro’s actually finding ways to collapse the defense, then pop out a bit to get that fade-away shot off that I’m discussing. In the first clip, he denies the screen to attack the basket, quickly leading to the big man sliding up and the corner defender sliding over.

The usual option here would be a corner kick-out, but the defense can usually recover pretty quickly on those type of reads. This new Herro wrinkle is to loop back through for a shot that quite frankly can’t be blocked without committing a foul.


The second clip is similar, but also different. It’s another possession of him using his momentum to get to his spot, before spinning back around for that close push-shot.

His touch has always been very good around the rim for those scoop layups that he loves, but it’s not something he can go to too much since defenses will begin to react quicker. This stuff, once again, dissolves that predictable element.

“Tyler is the one guy that has been extremely impressive. He’s been playing his butt off. He’s the one guy who truly impressed me,” said Kyle Lowry following Thursday’s game against Houston.

He’s quickly earning the respect from everyone around him, since he’s walking that thin line of hard work in the off-season and immediate production from that development. But as Herro said recently, “I haven’t done anything yet.”


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