After securing a four-year, 130-million dollar contract extension from the Miami Heat, it’s clear that Tyler Herro has massive expectations from NBA fans and members within his organization. After a promising third season where he averaged over 20 Points Per Game and shot 40% from three on a high volume of attempts, Herro made it clear that he was expecting a large paycheck from the Miami Heat. With his recent production combined with his youth, it’s fair to say he deserved this contract considering the strides he’s made throughout his first three seasons and the value of some of his most prominent traits.
However, there’s a certain threshold that needs to be hit in order for Herro to prove he’s worth the Heat’s investment. He’s making around the same amount of money annually as Devin Booker and CJ McCollum, two All-Star level two guards with a similar play style to that of his own. Those two are a step ahead of him right now, but that’s the level that Herro will need to reach. He’ll need to climb the rungs to the upper echelon of shooting guards for him to be worth the cost of investment.
At 22-years-old on a team with high expectations and unreliable shot creation, Herro needs to become a star, perhaps as soon as next season. There are lots of positives to go along with troublesome weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the obvious paths to stardom Herro can take and the adjustments he’ll need to make to become a high-level star.
A Shining Sharpshooter
Herro is one of the premier shooters in basketball right now. With a quick, fluid trigger, impeccable footwork, and incredulous self-organization skills, he’s developed into a lethal on-off ball shooter. The footwork off of screens and sprinting into movement threes is pristine and crisp. He also gets a lot of separation in the air because he’s able to rise up high to get into these shots. Bam Adebayo is the perfect dribble-handoff operator because he’s an excellent screener with gravity as a roller. Herro and Duncan Robinson make a living off being able to operate with Adebayo because defenders are forced to respect the shooting, while also being cautious that Adebayo doesn’t slip hard for an open dunk.
With a Stephen Curry-Esque 90-degree angle jump shot and a flick motion, Herro’s pull-up shooting has taken significant strides. According to BBall-Index, he ranked ninth in their Pull-up Shooting Talent Metric, and he shot 37.5% on all pull-up threes. The footwork and quickness of his release make it easy for him to shoot volume threes, and he makes contested threes at a ridiculous rate (60%); albeit a small sample. Herro also has a potent step-back jumper, converting on 50% (14-28) of his stepback three-point jumpers last season. The self-organization skills and shooting tools make him an incredibly versatile shooter. He tends to kick out his right foot or land in a wide stance like many great shooters such as Steve Nash and Trae Young. His ability to adjust his mechanics based on the situation of the shot without ever getting off balance or being fazed rivals few in the league. Both the stats and film point to a potentially historically great shooter:
Tyler Herro’s ceiling as a shooter often gets underdiscussed. He has potential to be one of the top five shooters in the league one day and he’s already elite pic.twitter.com/o428bF6jvz
— Thomas Stapleton (@TStapletonNBA) October 11, 2022
Potential is not the correct word to describe Herro’s shooting talent. Potential implies that the upside has not yet been fulfilled. The all-time great potential is not yet fulfilled, but the current shooting is mere potency, or rather something that is already a current strength of his. The footwork patterns, balance, stability, and creation is already there.
Another thing that aids his impressive shooting is his handle. Coming out of Kentucky, Herro’s shooting was obvious, but the handle and ability to create offense for himself was either not as developed or simply suppressed (a common trend in NBA-bound Calipari guards). There were flashes from mid-range, but it had yet to extend to the three-point line consistently.
Man I’m surprised Draft Twitter wasn’t higher on Herro. It was so obvious what kind of a shooter he was alongside the latent shotmaking skills he had. pic.twitter.com/VGyEvANRxc
— Thomas Stapleton (@TStapletonNBA) October 11, 2022
His handle isn’t superb, but it works for the role he has. He’s able to fluidly change direction with his handle using push dribbles and behind the back moves. He isn’t a super bursty athlete, but he knows how to use his dribble to maintain a steady pace while being able to change speeds quickly. He loves to use his crossover to set up a hesitation to make a decision. Facing a scattered defense, Herro is a good decision maker who isn’t a proactive passer, but can react to how the defense presents itself. However, these skills by itself wouldn’t be as valuable if Herro’s handle wasn’t as good as it was.
He loves to set up ball screens using hesitations and changes of pace to rise up into a three-pointer or snake the screen and work his way into the mid-range. Although Herro has struggled in the playoffs throughout his career, that type of ball screen, pull-up shooting can translate to playoff success if he’s able to get into a rhythm. Jamal Murray dominated the NBA bubble playoffs a few years ago with the same formula: high ball screen, find space via snaking the screen or seeking out space, and shooting.
Herro dabbles in the mid-range as well, using the same techniques to generate space with his dribble and knife his way through defenders to find room for a shot. He takes a lot of pull-up mid-range shots, oftentimes with his leg kicking out or his body leaning backwards. Although he appears off balance with most of his shots, that’s never actually the case. His body control allows for those shots to feel and look effortless, and the shot mechanics tie it all together. That ability shows remnants of Booker, who also was a shooting guard from Kentucky selected 13th overall, known for his substantial creator leap from college to the pros.
The pull-up shooting is undeniably spectacular and has been the driving force for his offensive production throughout his first three years with the Heat. However, bending NBA defenses requires more than just being a shooter. It requires being able to probe defenses, attack the rim swiftly, and get two feet in the paint to create easy opportunities for his team. Unfortunately, this is the largest hole in his game right now.
Paint Touch Problems
Herro’s incredible shooting and shotmaking will only take him so far. With the steady improvements he’ll likely make over the years and the likely increase in production, odds are he’ll make a few All-Star appearances here and there. However, he’ll never truly become one of the league’s top guards if he doesn’t substantially improve his ability to get to the rim, attack defenses, and finish through contact at the rim.
The biggest issues lie with his physical tools. Herro is 6’3, 195 lbs with a wiry frame. He’s not always afraid to seek out contact, but he’s not strong enough to challenge rim protectors. He’s still very young with time to improve, but going forward he needs to make the weight room a priority. Getting stronger and being able to take bumps is going to go a long way as he’s learning how to get to the rim and improving his driving process.
His athleticism is another real concern. Herro has very fluid and smooth movement skills, but his inability to turn corners and create an angle for himself to get to the rim is where his biggest issues lie. Just under 14% of his shots come at the rim, and a big reason for that is because his drives get walled off. He’s just outside the top 30 in terms of drives per game, but passes out of drives a staggering 39.5% of the time.
Isaiah Joe contains Tyler Herro's drive and blocks him pic.twitter.com/IRfjhwi41d
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 15, 2021
We see a lot of drives where he gets shut down like that by a player who has no business doing that. However, it’s because of Herro’s lack of explosion that allows plays like that to become a commonality. With below-average burst, vertical explosion, and one of the league’s shortest wingspans (relative to height), his ability to pressure the rim at a consistent rate will forever be hindered. It’s what lowers his ceiling as a top playoff creator.
Tyler Herro playoff stats since the bubble
11.8 points per game
2.5 assists per game
3.7 rebounds per game
39% from the field
25% from three
— Subscribe to the You Know Ball Patreon (@TrillBroDude) July 12, 2022
Are there ways for Herro to overcome the issues? Absolutely. Getting stronger and being able to take bumps and initiate contact on drives will be huge going forward. Improving his handle even more to the point where he can set up more moves into drives would also help tremendously. But some of the issues he can’t really fix. He can’t change that he’s on the smaller side for a two guard, doesn’t have much length, and isn’t a naturally bursty athlete. There’s no fixing those issues. So, where does that leave him?
What Is Tyler Herro’s Upside?
Going off the shooting profile and the shotmaking arsenal alone, Herro can be an All-Star level player; albeit not perennially. He’s got one of the smoothest shots in the league, with incredible shooting tools and high-level production. With an increase in shots and a heavier ball-handling responsibility, he can be the Heat’s leading scorer as soon as next season. But, with his clear limitations as a driver and finisher, it’s fair to question if he can ever become a primary option for a good team. Right now, with the tools in place, Herro screams scalable second option. His incredible shooting portfolio and ability to play off the ball makes him a valuable secondary scorer next to a true star or superstar. But his inability to generate easy looks for himself will always hinder his true upside. He’s an extremely talented and fun player who will be awesome for years to come, however, and the future is extremely bright for him.