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Prospect Breakdown: Tyler Herro

Does the Kentucky guard live up to the hype as a shooter?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Houston vs Kentucky Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Read any Mock Draft and you’ll see the Sixers walking away with a few shooters in tow, so it makes sense that Philly would potentially have their eye on Kentucky combo guard Tyler Herro. A rapid riser on draft boards, Herro is expected by many to be off the board by the time Philadelphia’s pick at 24 rolls around, but with a bevy of picks and in tonight’s draft and a need for shooting the possibility exists that Elton Brand could put a package together to move up for the sharp shooter.

For a player mainly thought of as a shooter, Herro shot a pedestrian 35.5 percent from deep on the year. Typically, his 93.5 percent work at the charity stripe would qualm any nerves about his college three point production, but a deeper dive into the stats brings up some potential red flags.

According to Synergy, Herro only connected on 9 of 31 jump shots when guarded — landing in just the 31st percentile nationwide on such attempts. Herro’s wingspan measured just 6’3.75’’ inches at the NBA Draft Combine, smaller than his standing height of 6’4’’ without shoes. Players have succeeded in the NBA with similar measurements in the past, the Sixers’ JJ Redick being one of them but they typically have something to counterbalance that small reach.

For Redick, it’s not just his tireless off-ball movement that let him overcome his measurements, it’s his footwork and footspeed.

Thanks to the slow motion shot provided by Youtuber “hoopshare”, we can see in the clip above Redick’s unique ability to explode through a screen and then gather himself enough to square up and rise to just get the shot off against the longer defender.

Herro lacks the same urgency and explosion when running off screen, and as a result he’s often unable to generate adequate separation to create a shot. The Sixers expect their shooting specialists to do more than just catch and shoot when the defense collapses on Embiid or Simmons; they like players that can work off screens and produce on hand-off actions.

In his time at Kentucky, Herro did not prove to be an effective scorer off either of these actions, scoring just 0.844 points per possession (44th percentile) off screens and .703 points per possession on hand-offs (31st percentile). For reference, Sixers 2018 1st Round pick Landry Shamet (who stands 6’5’’ with a 6’7’’ wingspan) produced 1.07 points per possession off screens (76th percentile) and 1.18 points per possession (86th percentile) at Wichita State prior to getting drafted.

Herro’s wingspan is a likely suspect for his lack of finishing ability around the rim, ranking in just the 26th percentile nationwide on points per possession on shots “around the basketball” per Synergy.

However, wingspan concerns did not stop Herro from putting up great numbers as a pick and roll ball handler. Although only operating in this setting on 5.4 percent of his offensive possessions, Herro averaged 1.208 points per possession on said plays, good for 98th percentile in all of Division 1. If you include PnR possessions Herro passed out of, his points per possession is still a wonderful 1.16, a figure that points out his good feel in these situations.

Defenders are weary of letting him get off a three and because of this they are often caught flat footed against him as they look to contest a jumper. Herro is apt at slight movements with head nods and ball fakes to get these defenders moving the wrong way and getting by them and while he struggles to finish at the rim, he shoots a highly respectable 52 percent in runner/floater range.

As with many shooting specialists, Herro likely projects as a negative defender to start his NBA career.

He is however a hard-worker on defense, something that can go a long way for players lacking strength or great measurements. To carve out space in an NBA rotation, Herro will have to be locked into his team’s defensive concept and know his coverages. It sounds cliche but for someone like Herro it’s absolutely necessary for him to bust it on defense while also being aware of his surroundings. Effort and knowledge can go a long way.

As shooting becomes more and more of a premium in the league, teams will have to look deeper and deeper in the margins to decide if a prospect is truly a good enough shooter to avoid any shortcomings or risk wasting a 1st round pick on a glorified Hollis Thompson. In Herro’s case, although he is not my favorite prospect, picking him at 24 would be a fine value proposition. But as he continues to climb draft boards I would not suggest pushing multiple picks into a package to move up for him.

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