Little prodding is needed when it comes to Tyler Herro taking his best shot. The 20-year-old rookie guard is as at home at the 3-point line as any Heat player this side of Duncan Robinson.
But there also is more to his game when given the opportunity to probe, create, explore.
That proved to be the case in Saturday’s exhibition scrimmage loss to the Utah Jazz at Disney World, when his 8-of-16 shooting on his 20-point night included eight 11 attempts inside the arc, including five conversions from short range.
Factoring in his four assists against the Jazz, Herro believes it is another example of moving beyond a limiting tag.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always tried to prove that to people and I’m still doing it to this day,” he said of being labeled solely a pure shooter. “So every time I go out there, I try to bring my A-game and show people that I can do more than just shoot. My teammates do a great job of setting me up and putting me in the right positions to be able to make plays.”
Given more than a typical rookie season to go to school on the league, amid the four-month delay created by the new coronavirus pandemic, Herro said he has done just that, studying versatile scoring playmakers such as Devin Booker and CJ McCollum.
“There’s a lot of different guys that Coach shows me, examples of things I can do, taking extra dribbles, making that right pass, getting off the ball early, just doing certain things with the ball in my hands that I can take from different guys’ games,” the No. 13 pick out of Kentucky in 2019 said. “I’m grateful to be as young as I am. I can learn from a lot of different people.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra exited Saturday duly impressed.
“He’s fearless. But you can see how he’s continuing to develop his skill level,” Spoelstra said, as he looked ahead to Tuesday’s 2 p.m. scrimmage finale against the Memphis Grizzlies, as the league continues to play in the void of fans at the Wide World of Sports complex. “He’s not just a shooter. He’s a driver; he’s a playmaker. He had a couple good looks off the dribble. That makes him dynamic.
“That playmaking ability … will only continue to get better as he learns how to read defenses and as his body gets stronger. The work ethic and development will continue to happen. He just grinds every single day.”
With Jimmy Butler held out of Saturday’s scrimmage, and with Kendrick Nunn limited in his minutes against the Jazz in his first Disney appearance, Herro has been playing on the ball more than typical. Through two of the three exhibitions, he has displayed an eagerness to explore that facet.
“Yeah, I definitely feel comfortable with the ball in my hands,” he said. “I’ve been working all quarantine just getting my handle a little stronger. My teammate, coaches also trust me with the ball. So I’m taking my time. I’m still young, learning as much as I can every day from coaches and vets.”
Just as Herro has gravitated to the Heat’s veterans, the Heat’s veterans have gravitated to the precocious Wisconsin native.
“He wants to be really good,” forward Andre Iguodala, 36, said “He wants to be great for a really long time. So, for me, it’s just trying to help out any way that I can. And even if that’s off the court, just getting him in the right frame of mind, in terms of how he interacts, whether it be on the business side or how he approaches endorsements or how he approaches social issues, or anything that might come his way, just try help hm out.”
It’s that thirst for growth that has impressed teammates.
“Tyler, he has that built-in type DNA,” Butler, 30, said. “He’s not complacent. He has a chip on his shoulder. He knows how great that he can be, and he wants to be and he’s constantly working at it, whether it’s on the floor, doing what he’s supposed to be doing in the community, watching film, all of the above. T, he’s young, but he really does a great job of being a pro’s pro.”
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