When evaluating the Heat’s current off-season, the name Tyler Herro comes up a lot. Yet when you see that name pop up on the internet, you know it’s probably involved in a mock trade of some kind.
But that’s pretty much what the off-season is for. Fantasy trades, predicting possible outcomes, and trying to pinpoint the direction of a team a couple months in advance. Except, nothing can be predicted in this league, since you can only control what you can control.
With that said, if a star does present themselves, you go for that guy, which Pat Riley pretty much noted in his presser after the season.
But there also must be some perspective and realism: Tyler Herro isn’t just a trade chip. He’s a valuable player to this current Heat build, and has a good chance of being the team’s starting 2 guard by game 1 of the 2022-2023 NBA season.
So, that gets me back in my element of discussing specific developments, instead of the constant jersey swaps that are popping up on the daily. What will be the focus of Herro heading into next season?
The initial answer would include adding some extra muscle to become stronger as an attacker and finisher around the rim. Gaining that also could gradually improve his defensive abilities, since strength just slightly piles onto everything in a positive manner.
Yet that isn’t the main focus heading into next season.
This entire discussion must be based around Jimmy Butler. He’s the superstar of this team that the front office is trying to build around, whether that be internally or externally. And if it ends up being the internal route, a lot of weight will fall onto Herro’s shoulders to fill the gaps that are necessary to counteract Butler.
A primary way of doing just that: isolation, isolation, isolation.
It’s a true statement that the “playoffs tell,” but that doesn’t mean you have to always throw away the things you learned in the regular season. Herro grew in so many major areas of his game this past season on his way to winning the 6th man of the year award, including his shooting from deep, control in the pick and roll, play-making, and much more.
Yet the only slot of his game that didn’t stand out in the category of pure improvement was his isolation game. In his rookie season, he scored 0.69 points per possession with a 3.4% frequency. That jumped up to 0.84 points per possession in his second season on a 5.2% frequency, yet declined back down to 0.78 PPP this past season while simultaneously shooting up to a 9.3% frequency mark.
He was so skilled off the screen that it almost wasn’t noticeable. No matter if it was the high pick and roll, a dribble hand-off attack, or a set that landed him in catch and shoot position, he just continued to shine and prove to be a high level offensive player.
So, if that’s the case, why is the isolation stuff so important?
Well, here’s your answer…
The injury restricted him in the Eastern Conference Finals from being effective, but the constant blitzing and doubling was the cause in the second round against Philly. He became the decoy which opened up Butler on their way to a series win, but when discussing internal improvements next to Butler, a decoy isn’t the current need.
Back to the original point, this is where the isolation need comes into play. We can talk all we want about “beating the blitz,” but the next layer is not allowing the opposing team to blitz you from the jump.
The need for the screen fell right into the 76ers’ plans to stop Herro.
Now, you mix in a good amount of isos into that shot profile, and it could be an entirely different ball game.
His usual go-to when going one-on-one can vary. If it’s a big that’s guarding him on an iso, a pull-up triple of some kind is always the outcome as he shoots over the top. If it’s a regular match-up, there’s a good chance a step-back mid-range is the answer, since he found a lot of success in just shooting over the top of guys when gluing them to the floor. Then the last option is when he knows a weaker defender is the match-up, in which he will get into his crafty finishing bag around the rim.
The issue with that above: being able to pinpoint a player’s upcoming move in a game of one-on-one is problematic.
It felt like at times teams know what’s coming in those spots, and when that transitions into playoff ball, the half-court offense shrinks, the strong-side corner shades over, and left handed skip passes are required.
A lot of this is viewing stuff under a microscope, which is necessary with players of Herro’s caliber, but it just illustrates how a little bit of 1-on-1 polishing could shift his entire scoring menu.
Once again, top tier players could force their way out of their respective teams, meaning Pat Riley begins picking up the phone, but that just doesn’t seem like a very likely scenario in my personal opinion.
Changes will be made around the edges, but it still comes back to patching up the holes in the boat. Butler is the boat, and Herro would be the hopeful patch.
Isolation will never, and shouldn’t, be anything close to his base. But it must be available to him when needed, since that’s the next step. He’s only gotten better the past 3 years in a Heat uniform, and I don’t believe that’s plateauing now.
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