The Divisiveness of Tyler Herro
Tale of the tape on Kentucky freshman guard, Tyler Herro:
6’3.25” wingspan (nearly -3”) puts him in the 6th percentile of combo guards per NBAthlete
8’4.5” standing reach
Turned 19 in January
35% from 3 on 169 3pas
93% from FT on 93 FTAs
10-17 (59%) on corner 3s
The case for by Fenrich:
I get that it’s lazy and perhaps I’m taking the easy way out, but when I think about Tyler Herro as a pro prospect and potential paths to success, the first two players that come to mind are JJ Redick and Luke Kennard; a pair of guys who, conveniently, look kinda like Herro: white, good height, excellent shooters, short arms. Kennard was drafted 12th, Redick 11th and while Herro, who at 19 is younger than either Duke product when they went pro, will likely be drafted later than both, it’s pretty easy to make a case that he’s further along as a 19-year-old than either Redick or Kennard after their freshman seasons.
Herro is far from a specialist. Despite our natural inclinations to bucket white guys who can shoot well into a catchall category of “shooters,” Herro doesn’t fit. And I think part of the reason he may not fit is that he’s an upgraded, updated version of the archetype who happens to realize that shooting alone isn’t enough – particularly when you have a negative wingspan. I first saw Herro during the high school all-star circuit in 2018 and looking back over my notes, some of the traits I saw then are traits I see now: a super smooth pull-up jumper off the dribble that he shoots with confidence, but a serious struggle to create space against defenders who are typically longer. One area he improved in his one season at Lexington was his handle. His jumper is such a threat (we’ll get into it more below) that the option to attack the closeout off the dribble will be there and at Kentucky he showed a high level of comfort putting it on the floor and mixing in a variety of pull-ups, floaters, and kickouts to others.
Later in the season, he even exhibited an ability to make reads and passes out of the pick-and-roll. This type of progression – improving ball handling, improving reads and passing – is what moves him out of the specialist category and ideally provides a runway to continued development.
Just because Herro shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a shooter doesn’t mean it’s not a great strength around which the rest of his game can develop. And for the criticisms that he shot just 35% from deep, you don’t have to look far to find another high-quality shooter who struggled as a freshman. Kennard shot 32% from deep on 172 attempts compared to Herro’s 35% on 169 threes. Since that first season, Kennard’s gone 44% as a sophomore, 41% as an NBA rookie, 39% as a 2nd year player. This isn’t to say they’re one in the same, but that improving long-range shooting when the mechanics are already in place isn’t setting any precedents. As mentioned, Herro’s already learning how to use the threat of the three to set up the dribble attack. He’s also capable of using his gravity and awareness to set up backdoor cuts on defensive overplays. Offensively, he’s always on the move which is what we expect from our best shooters. If you watch Redick or Steph Curry move off the ball, you see them put defenders through the ringer, never-ending gauntlets of screens and re-screens that may or may not be intended to get the shooter the ball. The value is that it tugs the defense, forces defenders to make decisions and creates spacing for others. That Herro, as a 19-year-old, is already incorporating and utilizing these tactics bodes well for his development. I imagine that in a pro style system with better passing and spacing, this can be even more weaponized as he learns how to better read and react to how defenses are playing him.
I get the concerns around Herro’s negative wingspan and I was sitting right next to Hamilton when we saw Auburn’s Jared Harper roast him over and over again, but I’m oddly not that concerned. Harper cooked every Kentucky defender that afternoon and Herro getting beat wasn’t due to lack of effort. Like Redick, Herro’s willing, just lacking and it’s harder to teach effort than it is to teach technique.
A 93% free throw shooter with a picture perfect jumper, a developing ability to create for himself and others off the dribble, and a willingness to defend with a standing reach higher than Redick, Curry, Kennard, Grayson Allen, Coby White, and Ty Jerome might not be a lottery pick, but he has lottery upside in a three-happy league where distance shooting is no longer optional, but damn near mandatory.
The case against by Hamilton:
I had the chance to see Tyler Herro up close at the Midwest Regional round of the 2019 tournament in Kansas City. And that was in addition to several televised Kentucky games. While he’s undoubtedly an NBA player who improved during his freshman season, I’d be leery of using a lottery pick on him. In the lottery I’m looking for really high ceilings, or “can’t miss” picks. To be clear, by “can’t miss” I mean players who will produce in ways that meet or exceed their draft position. In my view, Herro is neither of those.
In the games I saw live (Houston, Auburn), he couldn’t stay in front of any guards on either team. In the Sweet 16 win over Houston, three Cougars guards scored in double figures and accounted for 44 of the team’s 58 points. Herro hit the game winner, but not before Houston’s guards went by him over and over to make a close game out of one Kentucky had controlled for most of the contest. Two days later, Auburn guards Bryce Brown and Jared Harper combined for 50 points on 15 for 30 shooting. To be fair, Herro didn’t give up all those buckets, but when matched up with either guy, he didn’t do anything to stop them. At times Auburn hunted his matchup, knowing he was unable to move his feet well enough to stop their quicker players. He’s a little too hunched in his defensive stance and tends to bounce on his toes or the balls of his feet. Doing that puts him at risk of falling off balance or getting caught in mid bounce and getting beaten. There were several times he got lost off the ball and nailed by screeners.
I’m also not super optimistic about the his three-point shooting. While he does have an array of runners and floaters from decent range, I need to see him get past NBA defenders before I will believe it can translate. And, to be honest I was a little surprised his season 3-point percentage was only 35%. That’s generally a solid number but I’d expect a little better from a specialist-type player.
He made 40% or better on 3s in 14 of 37 games, had 12 at 20% or under – including all four of Kentucky’s NCAA tournament games.
He tends to hold the ball and swing it back and forth before putting it on the floor. That leads to travels and slows down possessions. His first step isn’t quick enough nor his handle sharp enough to size up NBA defenders before moving. Everything will have to be more efficient for him to perform at a high level and I’m just not sold on it coming together the way it will need to.