Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro, fresh off being selected as the 13th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft last night out of the University of Kentucky, was introduced at a press conference today at the AmericanAirlines Arena alongside Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra.
Plenty of eyebrows were raised at the surprising choice for the energetic shooting guard, but Spoelstra sounded excited and was eager to get Herro out on the practice floor immediately with his coaching staff in order to “get to work” on the young man. As Riley had mentioned last night after the conclusion of the draft, Spoelstra talked about how there is plenty to like about his game and how it fits with the team and in the modern NBA, but Spoelstra also pumped the brakes a bit to acknowledge the fact that at 19, there is a lot of work to be done before we see anything resembling a finished product.
“(We) just really saw a lot of upside and skill level that we like,” said Spoelstra. “He can really shoot the ball and handle. We love the fact that he played a role and embraced it at Kentucky. You have to be able to do that there, they have a lot of talent and they’re playing with big expectations. But you do have to sacrifice part of your game and with some young people that can be a little bit tough but he embraced it and had a tremendous season. We just think he fits in very well in a Miami Heat uniform.”
Herro was soft spoken but confident in his assessment of his overall performance during the workouts he had with the Heat.
“I felt like I shot the ball pretty well throughout the pre-draft process,” he said. “So I just came into the workout as any other workout — to try to prove to the coach and the rest of the staff that I was worthy of being picked at 13. I thought I played well.”
He also talked about his Kentucky connection with last year’s Heat rookie Bam Adebayo and how he grew as a player there.
“Yeah, me and Bam are pretty close,” Herro said. “He texted me last night and he’s excited to have me here. He just told me to be ready to work hard and to come in with a positive attitude. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him and the rest of the guys.
“I think at Kentucky, like coach said, I played a role. I was more of a shooter and I had fewer opportunities to show more than that. I think in the NBA there’s more spacing and things like that where I can show that I can handle the ball, come off pick-and-rolls and do different things with the ball in my hands. Obviously with shooting, I’m going to bring that every day. Just continue to get better with the ball and then defensively, just bring toughness and my IQ and just try to outsmart players.”
Shortly after he was drafted, there was a photo shown of young Herro with a Heat jersey on and he was asked about how he came to be fan of Miami.
“I think just growing up and loving the game of basketball, the Heat were obviously good at the time when they won in 2006,” he explained. “So I think around that time that was just me being a fan of the winning team.”
Coach Spoelstra was also quick to point that there’s much more to Herro’s game than just the shooting prowess he’s already known for from his highlight videos.
“No, I would not limit him just to the shooting,” he said. “He’s got a much broader skill set than that. That’s what I meant when I said upside that you can see an ability to handle the ball, to make plays off the dribble, and things that will play well at this next level. Another thing that (Kentucky coach John Calipari) mentioned was that you’re looking at somebody that is 19 and is going to grow and develop and mature physically, mentally and emotionally. But particularly physically, and we don’t expect this to happen overnight, but he said what people are missing out on is this is 30, 40 percent more of whatever you’re seeing right now just by the natural and physical development that he’ll have over the next two, three or four years. But we’re pretty excited about that.
“We’re excited about his competitiveness and I think that’s what our entire scouting department saw more than anything. The limited thought of just shooting really does not describe his full value as a basketball player on both sides of the floor. All of that will continue to get better and obviously the Miami Heat DNA that you talk about and hear about all the time, from that regard the work ethic, the relentlessness, all of that — everybody on the Kentucky staff said if you like Bam and if we were right about all of those qualities about Bam and why we like him, you’re going to like Tyler for the exact same reasons because they’re very similar in terms of their work ethic, their drive and relentless. The fact that he’s a Miami Heat fan and yesterday was the 13 year anniversary of our first championship, so maybe 13 is that magic number.”
For his part, the new Heat rookie brushed off concerns about his wingspan measurement and other criticisms about being a lottery pick.
“I think people just try to pick something that they can take away that’s negative about someone’s game,” he said. “I don’t think my arms have anything to do with how I shoot the ball or how I play defense or anything like that. So I’m going to be the same player whether my wingspan was 7-2 or 6-4, whatever, I’m the same player. I didn’t really know my wingspan was that short until it got measured but either way I was good.
“Ever since I was in high school I was always trying to prove people wrong. A lot of people doubt me and I just try to put in a lot of work in and a lot of time and effort into it. So I have a lot of confidence.”