The Tyler Herro Conversation Part 1: A Discussion About His Archetype, Usage, Role & Impact on the Heat

Insight3 months ago18 min readJohn Jablonka

Welcome, welcome, welcome! This is part one of the deep dive on Tyler Herro. It’s time to have the big conversation around him, especially with the start that he’s had. There are still the same conversations and questions surrounding him, so I’ve decided to go through all of that in extreme detail — going through stats and hours of film.

Here, in part one, it’s more of a discussion about the type of archetype he is (and how valuable those types are in general in the league), his role on the team, his usage, and how that all impacts the team in general, and how he should be integrated when he comes back.

In part two, it’s all about film, film, and film. And after that, it’s even more film. I’ve rewatched every single offensive possession to go through how exactly he gets his points(because the how matters a lot in his 25PPG), what he’s good at(and where he’s improved), what he’s bad at, his limitations, his habits and tendencies, and link all of that to this piece. All of that film breakdown will make the reasoning in this piece much clearer. It will show why those limitations matter a lot if he’s going to be playing in this type of role.

The goal of this 2-parter on him is to see where he’s at with the team in this current role. It’s to see the improvements and whether they even matter in what he’s doing now. It’s to see whether he fills their needs at all. And it’s to see where Tyler Herro stands in the league and on this team going forward.

Ah, let’s have a big conversation about Tyler Herro because it’s needed. Despite playing only seven full games, the conversation surrounding him has remained the same, where most of it comes down to some way over-the-top expectations and takes because of simple box-score stats that don’t translate to those expectations.

To me, that’s all it ever came down to when talking about Herro. It’s having a completely different view(a much, much lower view) than a lot of the fanbase, to the point where I don’t see where a lot of those takes and high expectations come from. Those takes and expectations, I believe come down to what people value in the league and how certain archetypes are viewed.

It’s these high projections of him being an All-Star or All-NBA caliber and putting him in conversations that are too high that will get a lot of pushback because it’s all either too early or not realistic. That’s my biggest issue on social media where there fans genuinely comparing him to players like Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Trae Young, Tyrese Haliburton, and Donovan Mitchell, or saying they’d rather have him over Damian Lillard. It’s at that point that it’s simply setting him up for no reason. A player doesn’t get overhyped and overrated because of what they do. It happens because of social media and wild takes.

It’s also easy to look at his stats before the injury where his per-game box-score stats show 25-5-5 and think he’s made that leap, especially when you look at that statline around the league. There are only currently 15 qualified players averaging 25 points per game and only seven of them average both five assists and rebounds.

If that’s the company he was in, it must be obvious that he was playing like a star, how can you argue otherwise? It’s that where it also becomes easy to think someone is hating if they disagree, because, again, HOW CAN YOU DISAGREE WHEN ONLY SIX OTHER PLAYERS AVERAGE THAT?

However, box-score stat lines can only tell you so much and they don’t tell you the most important thing, which is how they got those stats — HOW you get your points and HOW you get your assists matters 100x more than simply the stat itself. Different ways of getting points have different levels of impact that can translate to the offense. That’s not even considering the countless of other factors and context that are needed to evaluate a player.

I made this poll earlier this month:

It was a blind box-score stat line. Almost 60% voted for Kyle Kuzma over Jimmy Butler. This is just one example where making any argument whatsoever about a player using just a stat line is irrelevant and pointless.

That has probably been my biggest pet peeve whenever someone mentioned this about Herro. I 100% don’t care about his box-score stats when evaluating him.

But even if you want to use that argument, that’s still not a solid argument when it comes to him making a leap. A lot of this can easily be explained by more minutes, more possessions and higher usage.

Here are his per-game stats in the last three years:

  • 2022: 20.7 points on 18.6 true shooting attempts in 32.6 minutes
  • 2023: 20.1 pts on 17.8 TSA in 34.9 min
  • 2024: 25.3 pts on 22.5 TSA in 37.7 min

Also, when looking at his possessions per game:

  • 2022: 65.0
  • 2023: 69.4
  • 2024: 78.7

Just looking at it this way, his jump in scoring can be just as a result of getting 4.3 more TSA in 3.9 more minutes and almost 10 more possessions. There’s nothing there to suggest a leap apart from simply more touches.

But, let’s move on from those stats and the issue of using them that way for this piece — that’s going to be all in the film deep dive later this week. It will be there where I’ll be going through every part of his offensive game with a whole bunch of film.

For today, we’re having a long discussion about the general use of Herro(and how it should be used), his role on the team, his archetype of a player, and what to make of him going forward.

A High Usage Guard Archetype

Before getting to Herro specifically, there needs to be a discussion about his archetype of a player in that given role because that’s also where the entire issue surrounding Herro comes from. This also explains the stuff I value and why I’m lower on Herro(and guys who are similar to him).

Herro’s archetype has changed over the years. The way he’s been getting his points, his touches, and his play types — all of that has changed since he first entered the league. He’s no longer primarily an off-ball player who’s a shooter who barely has the ball in his hands with some on-ball chops.

That has completely flipped. In his rookie season, his time of possession was around 2.4 min. That’s at 5.1 now — for comparison that puts him with guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, Chris Paul, Jayson Tatum, LeBron James, and James Harden.

That’s a significant change where his archetype is more of a high-volume scorer who needs the ball in his hands to be effective. That is the gradual improvement players make when they’re ready to take on more responsibilities — there’s nothing wrong with that change in itself and it’s something that you want your young players to have that kind of development leap, but that’s only if it’s warranted.

To see if it’s warranted or not, a lot of it comes down to the player’s shot diet. That determines whether they can be in that high volume and high usage role. That can be the difference between being an elite offensive player or an inefficient bucket-getter. After the shot diet, the players’ passing ability has to be considered whether they can be creators or if they’re capped as just elite scorers.

When it comes to the shot diet, almost everything comes down to rim pressure and the ability to create efficient shots to force defenses to react. If you want a player to be a primary creator on the team that handles the ball a lot and has high usage, you need them to be able to get to the rim with ease, able to score efficiently there, collapse the defense, and make the defense do something.

In 99% of the cases, that has to involve rim pressure in some way or another. That is the most effective way of bending the defense and if a player can’t do that, it does cap their ceiling on the impact they can have on offense as a high usage creator. There are ways to help that, though, but that involves being elite at multiple other areas, with less margin of error — being a 99% percentile guy in off-dribble shooting, an elite off-ball player, and an elite passer.

That’s what’s needed if you want that player to be a high-usage guy on a team. If that guy is going to have roughly 30% usage, take 20+ shots, and hold the ball the most on the team, they have to be players who can generate efficient looks for themselves and others.

If the player is not that, then what you’ll get is a player taking a lot of inefficient shots that don’t do much when it comes to bending the defense and it just results in a player getting their stats. I hate to say empty stats but at a certain volume, it’s simply not as impactful. This will be your typical high-volume scorers that can go get a bucket and put up 25+ points on mediocre efficiency that doesn’t translate much to better offense because that shot diet at that usage isn’t effective.

That’s where what I call hooper bias comes in. A player getting 25-30 points by creating his own shot on high usage from the mid-range on average efficiency isn’t what makes a player a good offensive player. A player’s game relying on that doesn’t move me at all if the goal is to have that player in that role. The expectations for the team matter a lot here — this is less of an issue on rebuilding teams.

Inefficient on-ball creation isn’t that impressive in the grand scheme of things(especially on contending teams) and it’s certainly not something that makes a player a star(look at all your All-NBA guards over the years and compare that to a lot of these other bucket-getters). The goal isn’t to score the most points yourself. The goal is to use that to create a better offense for the team — but these players don’t do that with their mid-range and shot selections.

All of this is entirely dependent on the player’s role and usage. None of these criticisms have to do with the skills and the shots except when in those certain roles. Those players can be still improving at those skills, but if the goal is still to have them in that role, it honestly doesn’t make a significant difference. It’s at that point where the player is in a way putting up stats that don’t have any more impact — similar to diminishing returns.

To me, those players that take a lot of shots(mainly from the mid-range and ones that don’t offer much rim pressure) would be best suited for a lesser role(ideally third option when it comes to volume and touches) and still be primarily off-ball players that are simply better on-ball players compared to the rest of off-ball players. That’s where they’d still have a more positive impact on offense than taking 20+ shots to get 30 points.

How Does This Apply To Herro?

That brings us back to Herro and his role because that’s exactly where he’s at. The Herro that we’re watching fits the high-volume, inefficient scorer perfectly — whether it’s the right role or the reasons why he’s in this role doesn’t matter as much, what matters is the fact that he’s actually in that role.

First, let’s look at this touches stats over the years:

You can clearly see the difference in his game through his touches from 2022 onwards. That’s where his usage as an on-ball player became a thing.

There are similar changes to his play type over the years. Here’s his pic-and-roll possessions(and frequency) over the years:

4.3(30%) → 4.7(30%) → 6.9(33%) → 7.1(35%) → 9.1(40%)

It’s clear that his role is entirely different from what it was in his first two years and that he’s moving closer to a high-usage player and I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

The issue is everything else around it, specifically his shot diet. Here are the percentages of his shots in these areas:

This is the exact shot diet that you see from that archetype, especially combined with that usage.

Again, all of this matters if the player is leading the team in these stats and usage, which Herro is — though a lot of that had to do with the kind of start Jimmy Butler had, but this is something that’s been trending towards the previous two seasons too. There’s also an argument that he needs to play like this because that’s what the team needs(especially with Butler coasting), as they don’t have anyone else in that role.

I don’t get that argument. Nowhere does it say that if a team lacks something, a player that’s not suited for that role must be forced into that role, especially if those skill sets won’t help the team either. If that was the case, why haven’t we seen the rest of the team step into his shoes by being a high-usage, ball-dominant guy? Why aren’t we seeing Robinson be a hooper like Herro?

That’s something I can’t get behind. The Heat’s biggest need is a 3-level scorer who can also create for others. That’s not something that can be filled by Herro, so I don’t see any reason why there should be a stretch(even with Butler struggling) where he’s a highly ball-dominant player on the team.

But at the same time, none of the things that Herro is genuinely good at is a bad thing in itself. These are highly valuable skills that are needed. This type of on-ball creation is what separates the majority of the players — to me, at a certain level is the skill that separates a role player and a star. This is helping the team, but only to an extent where, as mentioned above, it becomes diminishing returns if these skills are used in a high-usage role.

Many people may interpret that as saying he hurts the offense or is to blame for the Heat’s struggles. But this just goes back to the initial discussions about this sort of archetype. Those players aren’t suited for these high-usage roles if the goal is to have a good offense. It’s not a slight at these players or criticising them but it’s how it is and that’s been proven with so much evidence.

There’s a reason why Herro has statistically(and on film) improved in many areas in these skills but it hasn’t translated much to good offense early in the year where he was leading the team in usage and touches. It’s all because these players in high-usage roles don’t translate to anything else beyond their numbers.

There’s also a reason why they have been looking better with “lesser” talent on offense and that’s because of how their skills are being used. Players such as Jaime Jaquez Jr and Duncan Robinson aren’t ball-dominant players who settle for inefficient shots where that’s the majority of their shots. It’s those types of players that have stepped into his shoes but it’s an entirely different style because of how the team has to play with those players.

That also kind of shows that the issue with these players isn’t the skillset, it’s their approach, mentality, and fit. Everything about Herro in theory should result in a very impactful player, especially with his constant improvement. There are certain limitations that prevent him from being that high-usage on-ball player, but there’s nothing stopping him from being arguably the best off-ball option in the league — the only thing that is stopping him not adapting his game.

Many, many people have said already that he’d be a better player if he was more of a Klay Thompson than Devin Booker. Right now, we’re seeing Booker-Lite and that’s never going to be great for this team because if everything is true about Herro with how a lot of these fans say, then the team wouldn’t have been struggling as much.

In fact, even when he was playing, without Butler on, he was struggling immensely:

20.4 points per 75 possessions on 41.8% eFG and 45.5% TS with a 29.0% usage — shooting 38.6% from 2 and 31.0% from 3.

That’s where I don’t see the argument that he helps this team in the role and the style he’s been playing at. A team never needs a ball-dominant guard to have a near 30% usage that can’t score efficiently.

But now, can you imagine a different version of Thompson but with better passing and creation? Hell, just imagine Robinson with a handle like Herro. That’s where he raises the team’s ceiling because if you break down the skills he’s good at, it’s ludicrous to think that couldn’t help this team. — but that does require a whole bunch of change, which leads us to the final point.

How Will He Be Integrated?

This is going to be very interesting because so many things have changed since Herro went down — all things highly affect him going forward too.

The biggest reason has to do with Butler not playing to his standards. As big of a leap, as Herro has made, it hasn’t made this team any less reliant on Butler or a jump-shooting team. That seven-game stretch easily proved that this team still runs on Butler and needs him to have the ball and be great.

That’s the first point and the most important one because a bad Butler affects everyone else and it makes everything worse.

The second point is the emergence of both Robinson and Jaquez Jr, and how that type of offense with them looked. I’ve talked about this earlier in the season here, where the conversation was whether the Heat are better without Herro.

I don’t necessarily agree or think that they’re better but they are different and they’re different because you replace that archetype of a player that relies on being a high-volume inefficient guy with players that do things differently. That’s not to say they are better individual players, but with the type of usage and role, those players have a higher impact on an offense.

My view on that is elite off-ball players who genuinely fit alongside stars are much more impactful than any player who’s better individually or better on a worse team.

A lot of people would say I hate where I’d rather have guys like Derrick White or Trey Murphy over Herro, but those players have a higher impact on offense in an off-ball role vs a poor on-ball scorer.

That’s where things will have to change once he comes back. It all goes back to the Booker vs Thompson conversation. It’s been a running joke that Herro needs to be another Robinson on the team, but that’s literally how he’d help this team the most.

He needs to be a role player on offense because that’s what his skillset is good at. With his shot diet, his shot selection, and his inability to pressure the rim, all of that screams role player with lower usage. Though all of that hinges on him changing his game to what’s good for the team.

At this point, he needs to prove that he can play that role because it hasn’t looked well. There have been questions about his fit with Butler and it all simply comes down to Herro needing the ball to be effective. That’s why there are fit concerns. I’ve watched all of his offensive possessions, his off-ball skill is looking a lot like Trae Young and James Harden.

This isn’t to say this can’t happen, but it now feels like he needs to show it again before assuming it’s going to work out that way. But, let’s quickly imagine that scenario, because that would help this team a lot.

If the Heat aren’t going to get their second legitimate star on offense that can pressure the rim, they need a bunch of other guys that are elite off-ball to fully complement Butler when he goes off in the playoffs. This is where having Herro helps them a lot because it’s another player who can create for himself when needed in bursts — imagine replacing either Max Strus or Gabe Vincent with him who has the right approach.

That’s what I envision this. Imagine another elite player similar to Robinson off-ball but a significantly better on-ball player. That just adds a lot more weapons.

So, the optimism is there. There’s a possibility this all works out, if things change. If not, if this is more of the Herro that we’ll be seeing or the offense reverts back to his habits, that’s where things get concerning for me.