Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro was the far and away the NBA’s top sixth man this season. He received 96 of the 100 first place votes for sixth man of the year — which he won, convincingly — and set a Heat franchise record for most total points off the bench with 1,162.
Herro, 22, was arguably the Heat’s top offensive spark during the regular season for a team that finished atop the Eastern Conference at 53-29 despite overcoming adversity at several points throughout the season.
But the reigning 6MOY expressed desire to potentially start next season Tuesday, assuming the opportunity gets presented to him.
“Yeah, for sure,” Herro told reporters Tuesday during his exit interview about whether he wants to be a full-time starter for Miami next season. “In some way, I would like to start. It’s my fourth year. I think I’ve earned it.”
Herro’s started 33 of his 175 career regular season contests; in those games, he tallied 17.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 41.5 percent shooting, 29.9 percent from 3-point range and 80.4 percent from the free-throw line.
The 6-foot-5 guard started in just 10 of the 66 contests this season, filling-in at different points due to injuries to Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson. The Heat went 5-5 in his starts with a marginally-negative minus-0.7 points per 100 possessions in those games.
On the season, Herro had a career season. Miami’s “Boy Wonder” finished second on the team in scoring (20.7), third in assists (4.0) and 3-pointers made (175) and sixth in rebounding (5.0), setting career marks in field goal percentage (44.7), 3-point percentage (39.9), true-shooting percentage (56.1) and PER (16.2; 15.0 is league average).
And even when he wasn’t starting, Herro played starter’s minutes. He led the team in total minutes (2,151) — partly because of the other injuries/COVID-issues that plagued the team — and finished third in minutes per game (32.6). His per game mark was as much or more than Bam Adebayo (32.6), P.J. Tucker (27.9) and Robinson (25.9), among others.
Though his workload — and production — decreased in the playoffs in-part due to a nagging groin injury, which limited him to 12.6 points on 40.9 percent shooting (22.9 3P%) in 25.4 minutes per game.
“[The groin injury] was lingering a little bit throughout the playoffs,” he said. “[It was] nothing crazy. It was just a sore groin at one point, and then Game 3 (of the Eastern Conference Finals) is when I tweaked it more and that’s when I really couldn’t play through it.”
Herro missed Games 4-6 of that series, but returned to Game 7. He played just seven minutes without a point on two shots.
“Going into Game 7, I was on the fence on whether I should play or not,” he said. “I thought I was healthy enough to play. Me and [head coach Erik Spoelstra] had a good conversation and he felt like it was ‘All hands on deck,’ and whether I was going to play or not was dependent on how the game was going.”
Should he be healthy and on the team, the 22-year-old — in-line for an extension — could be a starter depending on how the rest of roster shakes up. But Herro said a primary focus this offseason is continuing to get stronger — with an added layer.
“I was able to add strength [last offseason]. But then as the season went on, I was losing muscle, losing weight, because of how much games we play,” he said. “My big thing this year is adding the strength and then figuring out a way during the season to keep that muscle and sustain it throughout a whole 82-game season.”