A Herro’s Mission

A Herro's Mission

As I watched the NBA tipoff on Tuesday night I watched closely as the Milwaukee Bucks received their championship rings. I couldn’t help but think about what the Miami Heat were thinking as they watched the same ceremony? They were so close to the promised land themselves just a year ago before injuries to Bam and Dragic derailed their bubble run in game 1 of the 2020 Finals. Last season was a rough one for the Heat. Between injuries, changing lineups, tired legs due to an abbreviated offseason, COVID protocol absences, the loss of Jae Crowder, the failed pursuit of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and shooters not being as sharp: the Heat struggled to find their way and were expeditiously dispatched in a sweep out of the first round by the future champions. The disrespect Giannis leveled at the Heat organization after that series by saying that he wanted to sweep them because he didn’t want to “play with his food” was heard at the highest levels at 601 Biscayne Boulevard. The whole organization has come back very motivated this season.

There is one Heat player in particular that has been the source of much criticism is Tyler Herro. He has had to endure a lot early in his career from being rumored to be in many trade deals, to some of his colleagues hinting that his rookie season may have been the product of him being “a bubble fraud,” to reports that the Heat were concerned about his “celebrity” status that he had earned without truly achieving anything on the court as of yet. Tyler has heard his doubters loud and clear and has come off his sophomore slump season into his tertiary campaign taking a huge jump. He is on a mission to silence all critics, cement his status, and leave a lasting legacy in this league.

Tyler has added 10 pounds of muscle and an infinite amount of confidence to his game. Skill wise he has added a deadly midrange floater/fadeaway game, basket attacks that give him opportunities for easy layups or free throws and is more judicious in his three-point shot selection. No longer is Herro just a catch and shoot spot up jumper guy or a dribble to the left wing or elbow jumper guy. He is now a legitimate three level scorer that can use his ball handling ability to get to his spots and get a good shot off at any time. He has also shown a clear improvement in his court vision and has created many opportunities for his teammates to score on open threes or paint points setup by the boy wonder who once told the world on camera that he was a bucket. Now he is a bucket for himself and others. The young man can score and after scoring 20+ points in 4 of his 5 preseason games, he may rival Jimmy Butler for the title of leading scorer in this team. If Herro can average 20+ points in the regular season he is a borderline all-star. Oh, and by the way the kid has always been a good rebounder with his 6’5″ height and is now getting 4+ assists a game as well. That number could be higher if his teammates make more of their shots that he creates. Throw in some hunger and hustle on defense and it’s clear that Herro is on a mission to be elite.

No one was factoring an ascending Tyler Herro into the calculus when considering the prospects for the Heat this season. I believe what Herro has demonstrated in the preseason is sustainable and if Herro continues to develop his trajectory at this pace- look out! Miami could be putting the whole Eastern Conference on notice with a Big 4 instead of just a Big 3 of Jimmy, Bam, and Lowry. Kyle Lowry has already admitted that he has been very impressed and surprised by Herro throughout training camp and the preseason. Lowry has played with some all-stars and all-time greats. He is not easily impressed. He sees something in Herro that could make this 21-year-old kid truly special.

It’s obvious to me that Tyler Herro used his time off wisely after underperforming and getting bounced from the playoffs early. He watched Trae Young dominate with his floater game and get within a breath of the finals. He watched Luka Doncic dominate with methodical pick & roll action. He watched Devin Booker get to the Finals with a deadly midrange jumper. He watched Spider Mitchell come back from injury and lead his team deep into the playoffs at such a young age. He watched his fellow Wildcat alumni Jamal Murray, Bam Adebayo, and De’Aaron Fox all get paid on max contract extensions. Tyler is chasing all those guys for sure, but why not him? Why can’t he do the things those guys are doing when he has all the natural talent that he has been blessed with? He was imbued with a major confidence boost this summer as he played on the team USA select team against the senior USA team that went to the Olympics in Tokyo and won the gold medal. Tyler knows that he belongs now because he played very well against that all star team, and he knows that he has what it takes to be a great player in this league one day soon. I believe he can make that leap this year because now he has another reason to be motivated and is putting in the hard work. As Jimmy Butler said when referencing Herro recently becoming a father: “Tyler has his ‘why’ now.” Herro wants to make his new family proud and wants to be great. He’s on a Herro’s mission to prove that this season. The mission starts in game 1 Thursday night against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

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