Much is expected from lottery picks, especially those who lock up $120 million in guaranteed money before incentives on their rookie extension. The deal is a win for both sides. Tyler Herro gets the long-term security of generational affluence, and the Miami Heat have a blue-chip asset on the books for five years.
Herro has a strong character and work ethic. But he’s also human. At training camp, he said he hears and reads everything that’s said about him; the good, the bad, and the ugly. And like many commoners, his motivation is fueled by detractors.
Herro has upgraded on both sides of the ball every year he has been a pro. He was one of the NBA’s 40 players last season to average at least 20 points per game(20.7), with 30% of his minutes coming in the fourth quarter.
Sometimes the best five players don’t always start, but they sure do finish. Last season, Herro was first in fourth quarter minutes averaged (9.8) and sixth in total time (639.6 min), per NBA Stats. His presence in crunch time before the Playoffs signified that he was as dependable as it gets in the league.
In the Postseason, #14 was unrecognizable from the version of himself that won the league’s reserve crown. Some, but not all, of it is due to playing through nicks and bruises. In the East Finals, Herro missed Games 4-6, nursing a groin injury that limited him to fewer than seven minutes in the Heat’s loss at home in Game 7.
At Media Day, Herro said he spent the offseason working on his body and adding moves to his arsenal. There, he reiterated his wish to start but that he’s also comfortable in whatever role.
“I’m a team player. Whatever Spo and the organization want me to do, I’ll do,” Herro said.
This was his approach last season before he got his money. A year later, with the safety net of guaranteed dollars, his attitude is the same; committed and determined.
Barring any unforeseen concoctions by coach Spo in the rotation, Herro’s tenure as a sixth man is over. He’ll now have more time with three players capable of putting the ball on the floor (Lowry, Butler, Adebayo). While Herro shares the court with them, he’ll be relied on more to stretch the defense as a catch-and-shoot operator coming off screens and pindowns.
In 2021/2022, the 22-year-old made 42.2% of his catch-and-shoot triples, which were slightly less than a 1/5 of his field goal attempts. The Heat will need him to hover around the same efficiency on a higher volume, so Lowry, Butler, Adebayo, and presumably Caleb Martin have room to drive to the cup.
What makes Herro so intriguing as a starter is that he isn’t going to catch the rival team’s defensive schemes before Butler, and Adebayo if he keeps his sights set on the rim. Tyler will now shoot an abundance of open looks that Duncan Robinson took last season. A solid amount of those catch-and-shoot opportunities were uncontested due to swinging the ball and dribble penetration.
Lowry and Butler will probably come out first from the starters group because of age. As soon as this happens, Herro will have more freedom to assert himself as a three-level scorer as he shifts into one of the playmakers on the floor.
Pick and roll with Herro and Adebayo might turn into one of the Heat’s go-to moves regardless of the coverage. If the opponent foolishly drops, Herro will pull up after turning the corner of the screen from deep or mid-range for a jumper. If Herro is iced, he’s big enough at 6’5 to not get overwhelmed by multiple defenders on the run before feeding it to Adebayo, the roll man.
The next developmental steps for Miami’s off-guard as a scorer is getting to the line around seven or eight times a game and learning to post up smaller players. He only attempts 3.3 charity shots a night– Herro would need to start attempting more than 1/3 of his shots from within 10 feet of the cylinder to start getting more calls from the refs.
Aside from the breather the trip to the free throw line gives everyone on the court, the offensive team is at an advantage defensively if the last attempt is made. As the ball is being checked, one side has retreated, established position, and is less likely to get surprised by a fastbreak.
Back-to-the-basket maneuvers are another effective way of creating fouls. If this comes at all in Herro’s development, it will probably emerge last. However, it is one of the most underutilized skills in today’s NBA and can be used as a last resort option if an opposing defense has mucked up a group’s attacking sets.
As a starter, Herro will guard more than 11 shots a game. In part because of a few extra minutes on the floor, but there is also a misleading reputation that he is a complete liability on defense. That’s not true.
Even heralded disruptors get torched in the NBA because the rules favor the other side. While defending guards in 2021/2022, Herro showed the ability to stay in front and contest. He held them to 40.8% of their attempts made, while being matched up on them for almost 2/3s of his time guarding. The problem for Herro defensively is when he’s switched onto bigger players.
This past season, when Herro was matched up with forwards, they attempted 4.2 shots per game against him, making 51.6% of field goals taken.
Bigger players may attempt to hunt him down, but as a starter, he will be surrounded by the Heat’s top protectors. Miami is counting on speed this year. They still have the tools to be one of the top help-defensive teams in the league by quickly sending an extra man if Herro is compromised to force the opponent to play from the perimeter.
During the offseason, Herro made getting in the weight room a priority to get stronger, and at this moment, he has the lowest body fat percentage on the team (4.5) and weighs 198 pounds. Based on the eye test, his arms, from his shoulders down to his elbows, look broader and more defined.
Earning the standing of a good defender involves constant effort and a high IQ. Herro doesn’t give up on possessions; he gets beat straight up. But he has the tools to be a better-than-average defender.
Individual Season Goal
The best ability is availability. Herro missed 16 regular season games and three in the Playoffs in 2021/2022. In his first two years in the league, he was absent on 36 nights of action. His top goal should be to suit up for every game in 2022/2023.
It’s not common for players to participate in every match anymore, but last season, only five ballers did so: Deni Avdija, Dwight Powell, Kevon Looney, Mikal Bridges, and Saddiq Bey. If Herro can emulate the attendance of these iron men, he’ll have a stronger case to make the All-Star team or earn All-NBA honors.