Tyler Herro caught the sporting world’s eye when he dropped 37 points for the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the second-highest scoring total ever for a player 20 or younger in the NBA playoffs, behind Magic Johnson.
But just two years ago, Herro was playing high school basketball in Milwaukee. Now he’s the Heat’s most important bench player for the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s likely Herro will give the Lakers buckets at some point in the series — the question is not “if,” but “when?”
Here are four things you need to know about the Heat’s rookie sensation.
1. Tyler Herro was good, not great, at Kentucky
Herro was the consensus 35th recruit in his class, great by most players’ standards but not by those that John Calipari normally brings to Lexington. He didn’t waste time making an impact for the Wildcats, though – he started all 37 games and averaged more than 14 points per game. But Herro wasn’t the Kentucky leader in any one statistical category – he finished second on the team in scoring, assists and steals.
The best indication of Herro’s next-level talent may have come in Kentucky’s rivalry game at Louisville. Herro dropped 24 points that day on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor and 6-of-7 from 3-point range. When Herro gets cooking, he really cooks.
2. Jimmy Butler and Herro are basically best friends
Butler took Herro under his wing soon after Herro was drafted. When Butler did offseason workouts at 4 a.m., he invited Herro. Herro calls Butler his big brother. Butler even posts old photos of Herro on Instagram with #TylerTuesday.
And after Herro put up his 37 points, Butler broke out a special jersey at practice the nex day. It was Herro’s high school jersey, Whitenall High School in Greenfield, Wisconsin.
3. The Heat have unleashed Herro in the bubble
Herro dealt with an ankle injury directly before the postponement of the NBA’s season and missed double-digit games due to that. Even before that, Herro was inconsistent – he’d follow up double-digit scoring games with two or six or even zero points.
But after scoring seven points in Miami’s first game in the bubble, Herro has been in double-figures for every game since. He averaged 18.7 points per game in the Heat’s final seven regular season games and has put up 16.5 points per contest in the postseason. He’s scored from everywhere, too – on catch-and-shoot 3s, 3s off the dribble, driving layups and stepbacks and fadeaways in the midrange.
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4. Don’t sleep on Herro’s passing or rebounding
Herro has raised his averages to 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in the bubble. On a couple of occasions, he’s been on triple-double watch, and he had a 12-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist game in Game 1 against the Celtics.
Just because Herro looks for his shot first doesn’t mean he can’t make plays for his team. He’s especially lethal as a passer off the bounce, using either hand to setup shooters on the wings or in the corners, or to dish down to Bam Adebayo for easy finishes.
And on the glass, Herro uses above-average athleticism to seek out rebounds and sky above his opponents, often extending his right arm to reel the ball in one-handed.