Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro might become just the second player in NBA history to win the Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player trophies in the same season. But that’s not enough to land him on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team and in the NBA All-Star Game?
The easiest hobby in sports fandom is to discuss all of the players who should have been NBA All-Stars. Herro, one of the driving forces on a Miami Heat team tied atop the Eastern Conference standings, certainly had the makings of an All-Star-worthy player. So, too, did Jaylen Brown, Jarrett Allen, Jaren Jackson Jr., Domantas Sabonis, LaMelo Ball, Dejounte Murray, and Jrue Holiday.
However, the difficult part is deciding which player needs to be removed from the rosters to add those deserving All-Stars.
Tyler Herro was more than deserving of an All-Star nod to honor his career-best season
Tyler Herro finally blossomed into the player that the Miami Heat thought he could be when they drafted him 13th overall in 2019. Now in his third season, Herro is averaging career highs in scoring (20.1 PPG), assists (4.0), and steals (0.6). Already, he has 24 20-point games and four instances where he has eclipsed the 30-point plateau.
He is easily the NBA’s leader in bench scoring and the leading candidate to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. That would be a first in Heat history, and Herro would be deserving after playing off the bench in 34 of his 44 games.
The 22-year-old Herro is also a strong candidate to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. After all, he’s boosted his scoring average from 13.5 PPG as a rookie — when he helped the Heat get to the NBA Finals — to 15.1 PPG last season and 20.1 PPG this season.
If Herro could pull off the sweep, he’d become the first NBA player since Orlando Magic guard Darrell Armstrong in the 1998-99 season to win the Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player awards in the same season.
Tyler Herro not only kept the Miami Heat afloat, but they thrived and sit atop the East
All you need to know about Herro’s importance to the Heat is this: The squad is an impressive 27-17 in the 44 games he’s played in this season. That’s significantly better than the Heat’s 21-13 record when All-Star forward Jimmy Butler plays.
Herro’s offensive firepower and versatility not only kept the Heat afloat while Butler and standout center Bam Adebayo, but they thrived. Butler has missed 19 games with various injuries, while Adebayo missed six weeks and 25 games with a torn thumb ligament.
Herro’s offensive firepower off the bench also helped buoy Miami’s offense as Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry endured lengthy shooting slumps. Even though he was often on the floor with three or four undrafted teammates from Miami’s vaunted player development program, Herro stepped up his game in a massive way. He is the primary reason why Miami sits on top of the East.
The NBA can right this wrong by picking the guard to replace an injured Kevin Durant
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will name the All-Star replacement for superstar Kevin Durant. The Nets superstar, who earned a $1.1 million bonus with his All-Star selection, is out because of a knee injury. He will still be one of the game’s captains, along with LeBron James. West All-Star Draymond Green might also have to the miss the game and necessitate Silver naming another All-Star replacement.
Cavaliers’ center Jarrett Allen will be the sentimental choice, as the Feb. 20 NBA All-Star Game will be in Cleveland. Also, the Cavaliers have been the feel-good team in the NBA this season with their stirring play. Also, Silver might be inclined to pick Allen as a front-court player to replace the lost front-court player (Durant).
However, Cleveland’s record isn’t as good as Miami’s, and the Heat deserve two All-Stars to honor their accomplishment while battling through illness and injury all season. That second nod might go to head coach Erik Spoelstra, who is undoubtedly deserving considering his excellence on the job this season.
The league would be wise to hand the All-Star bid over to Herro, a big-time rising star who might sweep two major NBA awards this season. If he’s doing all that, shouldn’t he at least be an NBA All-Star?
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.