Right after the Miami Heat picked Kentucky guard Tyler Herro with their lottery pick Thursday night, many pundits and fans voiced their disapproval. Ethan Skolnick said the Heat didn’t draft the player with the highest upside — a sentiment that captures most of the criticism.
Did the Heat just use the 13th overall pick to get another Tyler Johnson, who was an undrafted player?
Hear me out. Let’s give Herro a chance.
This draft was considered thin after the top three picks. Any team picking outside the top three would be lucky to get someone who can turn into a star. Yes, Donovan Mitchell and Kobe Bryant were 13th overall picks. (Apparently, Bryant’s agent told the then-New Jersey Nets front office that he would play in Italy if the Nets picked him with the eighth pick that year, but that’s a discussion for another day.) But the draft is a crap shoot after the top five picks — and it will probably be especially so this year.
The Heat could’ve drafted Romeo Langford or Sekou Doumbouya — who went right after Miami picked Herro — or Nassir Little or Kevin Porter Jr., who ended up falling to the bottom of the first round. We don’t know how any of these players will turn out.
Remember when the Heat traded up for Shabazz Napier in the 2014 NBA Draft, who was supposed to be the dynamic point guard to infuse much-needed youth into the Big Three-era Heat? He won two national championships in college. LeBron James, who was about to become a free agent, even tweeted out his praise for the pick.
Yeah, how did that turn out?
Look at this current Heat roster. Did we know how good Josh Richardson would turn into when the Heat picked him with the 40th overall selection in 2015? Goran Dragic was a second-round pick, too.
Unlike some other players Miami could’ve drafted, Herro comes into the NBA with a clear, honed skill — shooting. He made 37 shots on spot-ups and 25 shots off screens, proving his versatility as a shooter. He also made 94 percent of his free throws, which will be a big help for the team that finished last in free throw shooting this past year.
Maybe Herro will develop into a solid bench player, as Tyler Johnson did. Maybe he can become a solid starter for a team on the level of, say, J.J. Redick. The fact that Pat Riley said that Herro shot like Ray Allen and Wayne Ellington in a Heat shooting drill is a good sign.
The key for him will be developing his defensive game. If he can do that — admittedly, a big question mark — he could emerge as a starter. We know that he has good instincts.
Besides, what’s wrong with the idea that Herro’s ceiling is a good role player? Isn’t that what Miami got with their last lottery pick, Bam Adebayo? Adebayo appears set up to be the Heat’s center of the future, but he probably couldn’t be more than the fifth-best player on a championship team.
Let’s wait until the summer league and the start of the season become we make any big pronouncements on Herro.