The Long And Short Of Fit
How Tyler Herro Projects With Miami Today And Tomorrow
Jesse D. Garrabrant
When we talk about the NBA Draft, we tend to talk about it through the prism of the short or long term. Is this a player who can help a rotation today? Is he going to take a few years? Does he fit alongside the team that is already in place? Can he eventually be a star?
Good conversations are born out of those questions, but it’s easy to get too specific, thus limiting, with regards to timelines. Even the most polished player out of college is far from a finished product, and even the rawest talent can make an impact out of the gate.
With Tyler Herro, selecting No. 13 in the 2019 Draft, the HEAT got a player who could fit what they’re doing today, but has a chance to fit even better with what they want to do tomorrow.
The elevator pitch on Herro is fairly simple: he’s a shooter who can do more than standstill and wait for shots to come to him. We’ll get to all of that in a moment, but where he lines up with Miami’s modus operandi is that, by all accounts and information available to us today, like Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr, Herro is a worker. The mere fact that Miami selected Herro should tell you that calling him a worker isn’t lip service, either. If there’s anything that the front office group looks for over anything – other than, you know, talent – it’s guys with a competitive edge who commit.
There have been hundreds of players to come through the draft process with the reputation of being a knockdown, you-better-stick-me shooter. What separates the guys who make it and don’t, the guys who have long careers and don’t, the guys who become high-impact GUYS and don’t, are the ones who have the drive to keep adding and improving year after year.
“His work ethic is second to none,” Pat Riley said.
“There’s one thing that I think you can be sure of is when you get a player who can shoot the ball, like he can, and is a competitor. He works real, real hard every day, and he’s going to get better.”
We can wax poetic all we like about Miami’s vaunted player development staff, but even the best educators need willing students. Herro should give himself a better chance than most.
It also helps that he’s got the talent.
You’re going to hear plenty about Herro’s abilities as a shooter. You can quibble about him shoot 35.5 percent from deep in 37 games if you’d like, but keep in mind that defenses guarded him like an elite shooter and he was no stranger to have to create a tough look at the end of the shot clock. Free-throw shooting is often just as, if not more, indicative of future shooting value as the actual threes are, and Herro shooting 93.5 percent from the line is encouraging. On film the shot is effortless and compact all the way through, with consistent feet leading to consistent balance leading to consistent motion.
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that an impact skill like shooting will translate to the pros immediately, but the point is that after going through the usual growing pains of any other rookie, Herro’s shot projects.
“He shot the ball extremely well [in his workout],” Riley said. “We have one particular shooting drill, and not one of our guards, in all the years of workouts, even came close to what he did. It takes the Ray Allens and the Wayne Ellingtons of the world [to do it].”
What you love to see is that he’s not a standstill shooter. Herro will have to put in the work if he wants to speed around the floor like Ellington once did in Miami’s floppy sets, but he has the instincts which remind you of other elite shooters. He seems to have an understanding for what floor spacing really means, as he’ll fill empty spaces on the perimeter and react to the action away from him. Even when he’s not involved near the ball, he’s an active participant, relocating to the weakside corner or curling around to the top of the key to help create passing lanes for his playmakers.
For years fans would tear their hair out screaming ‘How could you leave Ray Allen open?’ It wasn’t defenses suddenly forgetting one of the league’s most prolific shooters was on the floor, it was Allen reading the defense and getting himself open. That’s as innate an understanding of the floor as court vision is for a point guard. Herro may have that.
He also might have a more complete offensive package than most expect – which would be typical considering Kentucky players are known for surprising with their skillset after being drafted, with Adebayo’s ballhandling and passing being a good example. Herro’s shot works both off the pass and off the bounce meaning it’s just as quick and compact a motion when he pulls up off a couple dribbles (44.5 percent on dribble jumpers) as when he’s set up in the corner. Couple that with what looks like plus touch on runners in the paint, albeit with limited sample size, and there’s scoring upside beyond the shooting profile though he’ll need to improve the handle and learn to navigate the speed and size of professional defenses like anyone else.
Today, at the least, he’s got the package to comfortably attack a closeout when he gets run off the line.
“Offensively I think I’m definitely a complete player on that side,” Herro said. “I’m much more than a shooter.”
There’s some vision there, too. We won’t sell you the moon here and overstate what we have limited information on, but there’s film of Herro making impressive weakside passing reads, often with one hand off the dribble and usually with pretty good zip on the wire. It’s not his primary focus, but there’s some there there that the team will likely explore.
“Secondary, third or fourth pick-and-roll situations. This is where he’ll come in,” Riley said.
“On a second or third pass he can be very creative.”
Defensively nobody will be expecting Andre Iguodala, but Herro isn’t passive on that end either. He’ll have to work to make himself an above-average defender, a designation that doesn’t come easily even to those gifted with the wingspan of a condor, but competitive guys give themselves a chance.
As for the aforementioned timeline, Herro fits all along the spectrum. We should never expect too much from a rookie Day One, but eventually he could earn himself a role playing off Winslow, who is increasingly adept at finding open shooters. Great shooters make everyone around them better by simply being on the floor, and the more mobile and dynamic Herro becomes with said shooting will only make it more difficult for defenses to get set. Want Adebayo to get more lobs at the rim, stick Herro on the floor and let his gravity – granted, the league is going to make you earn that reputation and respect – drag the defense.
Down the line, Riley hasn’t been particularly secretive about his desire to find a star. No matter who you talk to in the front office, conversations always come back to finding elite talent no matter the avenue which leads to them. When that day comes, whether that star develops from within or they go out and get him, Herro’s profile fits next to anyone.
Like any pick, from the top to the second round, Herro comes with questions that should be asked. Most of them can be answered better with educated guesses than with firm answers. That’s fine. That’s the draft. Getting a rotation player is far more of a victory than its given credit for. What we know for certain today is that Herro’s current profile and future projection line up with the HEAT’s days of future past.
And if the approach is the approach the HEAT clearly think it is, Herro has a better chance than most of touching his ceiling.