Tyler Herro returns to form, enters star chase with rebound season

Tyler Herro is pushing for Kia’s Sixth Man of the Year honors this season.

MIAMI – Tyler Herro has never really been knocked down much in his young and charming basketball life, but here he is, trying to overcome a pair of hits: in the Orlando 2020 bubble, where he became an immediate star , and on the charts when a rap song that bears his name became an instant hit.

It explains what he’s been up to now, leading a redemption tour where he’s delivering strong performances with alarming regularity for the Miami Heat, confirming he’s indeed an emerging star and pushing the idea of ​​being the best sixth man. of the league, with career highs everywhere. .

It’s a notable jump from a season ago, which by every metric was slightly disappointing only because Herro had already teased expectations. Not that he was bad in 2020-21…he just wasn’t good at the top level and so his follow-up to Miami’s appearance in the 2020 NBA Finals – and his rookie season in 2019-20 – went flat.

“It’s not what I wanted, not what I knew I was capable of,” Herro said.

Oh, but look: Miami is 32-18 and sits in the Eastern Conference penthouse largely because of the Herro-ics of its 22-year-old guard who carried the team for generous periods over the past few months as All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo sat with injuries. It was a period of growth for Herro, and he passed all the tests and erased all the doubts, if there were any.

From 2020-21 to now, he’s up five points, his 3-point shooting is up to 38.1 percent and his attendance is up. At 20.3 points per game, he leads all reserves in scoring.

Herro’s 2020-21 season vs. 2021-22
Season GPP 3P% Roleplay APG
2021-22 20.3 38.1 4.9 4.0
2020-21 15.1 36.0 5.0 3.4

“He’s more than just a shooter,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He is a creator of plans. He’s really improving as a playmaker. It’s those times. You can’t put an analysis to that, but it’s a moment and a feeling during a game where it’s a big play to make. He has the gift for it. »

In the process — and this is important, so listen carefully — he also made sure “Tyler Herro” the song, was well worthy of the title.

A little about that: Herro was a few months away from his sparkling game in the bubble when he got a call, and the conversation went something like this:

Jack Harlow: “I have a song for you to hear.”

Sir : “Yeah, what’s it called?”

Harlow: “Tyler Hero.”

Harlow already had a hit with “What’s Poppin” where he boasted he could “pass that (ball) like Stockton” and which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100. Harlow, like everyone else, was impressed with Herro. They had met before; Harlow is from Louisville and Herro played at Kentucky for one season.

“We have Kentucky in us,” Herro explained. “I went to Kentucky, so we had a connection. We met and now we have a real relationship, a real friendship. We talk all the time.

The song Tyler Herro really isn’t about Tyler Herro, but there’s Tyler Herro in the verse and Tyler Herro in the video. Make sense ? No matter.

The verse:

“My homeboy Tyler, he plays in South Beach, he told me this summer he was goingfix my sweater. I told Boi-1da we could have a thumper (Yeah, yeah, yeah), I tried to pop, now II’m like Shumpert.

A quick translation: “South Beach” is, of course, an exterior view of Miami; Boi-1da is the stage name of famed hip-hop studio Matthew Samuels, who produced the track; a “thumper” is slang for a catchy beat; “tryna pop” means trying to shoot outdoors; “Shumpert” is a name of former NBA player Iman Shumpert.

This, of course, was a big deal for an NBA player. LeBron James, for example, has been named dozens of times in the lyrics of hit songs, but never in the title of a song.

The timing of Harlow’s hit song was perfect: Herro was ready for a bubble-based 2020-21 breakout, and now he had his own theme song.

I’m a natural worker, I work hard, that’s who I am. So I walked into the gym. Every offseason from here, I think, can be like the last, where I make progress, get the job done and improve my game.”

—Tyler Herro

But what about Harlow? Did he have his sweater repaired by Herro, as promised in the song? Herro burst out laughing.

“We worked on a little basketball here and there,” he said. “He stopped at a training session and, well, yeah, that’s about it.”

Most important: “We are in regular contact and we motivate each other. »

Herro, however, went through his sophomore season without the same pop as his inspired game in the bubble, where he scored 37 points in an Eastern Conference Finals game and averaged 16.0 ppg in playoffs. It was perplexing for him and others in how everything suddenly stagnated.

He started this season in the starting lineup, then moved to the bench and never used the buzz and energy he had as a rookie. He said he was “humbled” by 2020-21 and admitted the pressure of trying to replicate the bubble.

“Everything happens for a reason and I think that gave me the motivation to come back stronger,” he said.

Due to the compressed schedule and the shortened 2020 offseason, Herro said he just didn’t get a chance to put himself through normal summer training.

“Last summer was really my first offseason, so I wanted to work on all parts of my game to get stronger, have a good body, eat the right foods, do whatever I can to be a good player,” did he declare. “It was easy to do. I’m a natural worker, I work hard, that’s who I am. So I walked into the gym. Every offseason from here, I think, can be like the last, where I make progress, get the job done and improve my game.”

Tyler Herro’s 33 points off the bench marked Miami’s victory at Phoenix on Jan. 8.

Herro showed a more diverse offensive game, with a mix of 3-pointers, mid-range pull-ups off the rebound, and attacking from the rim. As a result, he’s attempting more shots this season, although that number may go down now that Adebayo and Butler are healthy and back in the mix.

“For me, the process continues,” he said. “It’s non-stop. I even have to come here for training and keep doing what I started off season. Defensively, I wanted to get stronger, faster and more durable. In attack, I wanted to be better on the dribble, on the grip. I’m already a confident guy, but just locking myself up made me even more confident.

And suppose that translates to receiving all the flowers that come with hard work and improvement, like the attention of the Kia Sixth Man Award and maybe a promotion to the All-Star Game?

“I’ll take it for sure,” he said. “Of course. I have personal goals. I want to be an All-Star at some point in my career. But it’s up to me to keep improving every game. Those are individual goals that everyone world would like to achieve.

Truth be told this season, Herro was the most productive player on a team with Butler, Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, if only because he was healthier and more available. He has also been at his best, putting aside the complacency of last season and rejuvenating the vision of what he generated in the bubble.

There is also this:

Herro the player has finally done what he planned and matches the hypnotic flow of Tyler Herro, the song. This could be the stuff of another hit.

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Shaun Powell covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him here, find his archives here and follow him on Twitter.

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