Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This report breaks down Kentucky guard Tyler Herro.
By Kentucky standards, Tyler Herro wasn’t an overwhelming college recruit. The talented guard was a consensus top-40 national prospect but, in the same breath, Herro wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American and the good folks at 247Sports ranked him as the No. 5 prospect in Kentucky’s five-member class.
After one season at the college level, however, it is possible (or even likely) that Herro is the first player from John Calipari’s recruiting class to hear his name called in the 2019 NBA Draft. While he doesn’t bring a flawless athletic profile to the table, Herro does bring a “great equalizer” to the table and it arrives in the form of his shooting.
During the 2018-19 season, Herro didn’t post obscene shooting numbers and that has to be acknowledged. He produced a (very) solid 58 percent true shooting but, on 4.6 shots per game, Herro converted “only” 35.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Still, Herro is recognized as one of the elite shooters in this class and it is easy to see why.
Herro is an obscenely good free throw shooter, coming in at 93.5 percent during his freshman season, and his mechanics are, in a word, beautiful. He has a fantastic shooting stroke with a quick release and a high finish, and if you saw Herro shooting in an open gym, you would know he was a shooter. Combine those fundamentals with reasonable in-game production and NBA teams will be banking on Herro to be a game-changing shooter when evaluating him as a (very) likely first-round pick.
Beyond the shooting, however, things get a little bit fuzzy for Herro when compared to his contemporaries. The 19-year-old stands at 6’6, which is a quality measurement for a projected combo guard, but Herro measured with a 6’3 wingspan and at only 192 pounds at the NBA Draft Combine. The weight shouldn’t be an issue but, when projecting Herro defense and ability to finish near the rim at the NBA level, the lack of length could be a problem and his wingspan produced whispers around the league.
In terms of his offensive game as a whole, the three-point shooting is the X-factor and Herro brings a strong ability to work off screens that should translate well to the professional game. He also flashed aptitude when attacking close-outs at Kentucky and, while he certainly isn’t an elite creator, Herro can produce for himself and others off the bounce in a way that you may not expect from a “pure” shooter like himself.
The other end of the floor is perhaps more concerning for Herro, even with the caveat that he plays quite hard defensively. He brings toughness and acumen to the table but it is hard to ignore the lack of length and strength when looking ahead to how Herro will fare against elite competition. His high level of activity helps to mitigate some of the concerns but there isn’t a lot of precedent for impact defenders with his measurements and Herro will need to be able to hold up against opposing point guards given his lack of size.
Because Herro isn’t an elite athlete by any stretch, there are questions about how he will fare, on both ends of the floor, against NBA talent. He struggled against high-level quickness, most notably against Auburn in the NCAA Tournament, and there is some projection necessary to feel comfortable with Herro as more than a pure supporting piece.
Of course, Herro’s projected draft slot (somewhere between the late lottery and the mid-20’s) doesn’t necessarily mandate incredible impact at the NBA level, and his shooting brings enough utility to calm some of the doubts. It has to be said that Herro absolutely needs to shoot a high percentage from beyond the three-point arc, simply because that is his one defining skill. Simply put, a 35 percent clip won’t be enough for him to stabilize as a full-fledged NBA rotation player with his other potential weaknesses. With that said, there is every reason to believe that Herro will be a good-to-great three-point marksman in the NBA and that allows for forgiveness elsewhere.
The Atlanta Hawks, now blessed with the No. 17 selection after a high-profile trade involving Taurean Prince, could consider Herro with that pick but, in truth, the fit might be a concern. In terms of draft slot alone, Herro would be a reasonable investment at No. 17 overall but his lack of size and defensive upside could provide shaky alongside the likes of Trae Young and Kevin Huerter. If the Hawks were to believe in his ceiling, Herro could slot in as a potential third guard and, well, Atlanta loves prospects that can space the floor. Still, it is tough to ignore the uneasiness of the fit and Herro should probably be higher on a theoretical draft board than one curated for the Hawks alone.
It will be interesting to see where Tyler Herro lands on June 20 but, in a league increasingly predicated on the ability to shoot (and shoot off movement), there is real theoretical value in his game.