Playing off the bench is tough. It’s like jumping into a flowing river. It’s easy to get carried away and drown. Players that come off the bench enter a game that’s already taken a life of its own. It’s hard to come in cold and get in sync with everyone else on the court who are already playing in rhythm. It’s even harder to create a lasting impact that will truly change a game’s flow.
When Tyler Herro was relegated to a bench role before this season, he could have resisted the idea. He was one of the Miami Heat’s rising stars. His production from his rookie year to his sophomore year also got a bump. Herro was primed for a breakout year as he entered his third season in the league. The natural progression for him was to take on a starting role. He could have seen the bench role as a step down. Instead of pushing back, Herro fully accepted the sixth man role on the team. Then, he ran with it.
Herro gave Miami real heat coming off the bench. He averaged 20.7 points per game, shooting at a 44.7 percent clip. He had eight 30-point games this season, the most since Lou Williams collected 11 in his 2017-18 run. Everyone knows that Herro is a walking bucket. What he showed this season, though, was how much his passing has improved. He was the primary playmaker of the second unit for the Heat, averaging four assists per game.
The drop-off in the team’s production when the team turned to their bench wasn’t as drastic anymore. The burden wasn’t so heavy on the starters anymore because they were confident that they wouldn’t give up leads with Herro leading the bench mob.
Having a player as talented as Herro come off the bench just opened up a new level of flexibility for a non-traditional team like the Heat. Herro could be plugged into any lineup because he produced instantly. He was often used as a spark plug to combat lethargic starts by the starters. Herro was also good enough to play alongside them during crucial stretches of the game.
In the same way that Herro unlocked Miami’s potential, playing off the bench also allowed him to shine brighter this season. He was tasked to be both the main scorer and playmaker of the bench unit. It’s a tough task to do both but Herro made it look so easy this season. Even if he was the sixth man, he still also had to fit in with the starters in mixed lineups. Herro seamlessly transitioned into a secondary playmaker or spot-up shooter role when he played alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. It was that versatility that made him stand out as a sixth man this season.
Coming off the bench didn’t diminish Herro’s role on the team. Instead, it further highlighted just how important he was to the Heat. He was part of the team’s closing lineups during tight games because of the different ways he could help the team. He truly made an impact on a lot of Miami’s wins this season.
When Herro took on the sixth man role, he aimed for the highest goal possible.
Tyler Herro to AP: “It means a lot. I accepted the sixth-man role for a reason. I wanted to be the best sixth man in the league.”— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) May 3, 2022
Playing off the bench didn’t limit Herro - it empowered him to be the best. It’s that kind of mindset that will allow him to climb even greater heights next season. Right after winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, Herro boldly declared his next mission.
Tyler Herro on the next goal:— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) May 3, 2022
"I wanna be an All Star next year."
Herro has his sights set on a new target. If he’s proven anything this season it’s that he will work to reach his goals. When the All-Star reserves are announced next season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Herro there, willingly taking on another bench role.