Miami Heat

Mailbag: What does Heat rookie Tyler Herro’s fast preseason start mean?

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@kentuckyloan: Is Tyler Herro the real deal?

Anthony Chiang: It’s still so, so early. Yes, Heat rookie Tyler Herro was really impressive in the preseason opener. He scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting in Tuesday’s win over the Spurs. But remember Norris Cole’s preseason debut with the Heat? He finished with eight points and eight assists. Or how about Gerald Green’s 28-point preseason performance with the Heat in 2015? It’s important to put preseason stat lines into context. It’s the preseason, and scouting reports are usually limited (especially on rookies), and defensive schemes are still being installed and learned.

With all that being said, there are certainly some positive things to take away from Herro’s first NBA preseason game. Like his step-back jumper. Herro, 19, was 3 of 4 on step-back jumpers against the Spurs, and they were smooth. It looks like he can really create space for himself with that shot. If Herro can hit that shot at a somewhat efficient rate, that’s something that can carry over. Also, Herro’s ability to find others and play as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll sets has been impressive. It’s pretty clear Herro is more than just a shooter.

So, is Herro the real deal? He’s off to a strong start, when you look at summer league, training camp and the preseason. But it’s way too soon to answer that question definitively. There are sure to be ups and downs for Herro over the next few months, just like there are for most rookies.

@MiloMiaEsq: Any indication on who’s going to make the team? Kendrick Nunn and Chris Silva look like they have a good chance, but Davon Reed is getting some good play. And, is KZ Okpala going to the G League? He seems better off with the team to develop better.

Anthony: The Heat’s regular-season roster looks to be set, barring a trade during the next few weeks. Miami currently has 14 players under standard contracts, and they are expected to make the regular-season roster: Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Udonis Haslem, Derrick Jones Jr., Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and KZ Okpala. An NBA team can carry up to 15 players on its roster during the regular season (not including two two-way contract players), but the Heat is expected to move forward with 14 players because of its position against the NBA hard cap.

The other six players on the Heat’s preseason roster — forwards Kyle Alexander and Chris Silva, and guards Mychal Mulder, Davon Reed, Daryl Macon and Jeremiah Martin — are competing for two-way contracts from Miami. The Heat still has both if its two-way contract spots still open.

As for the Okpala part of the question, time in the G League seems to make sense for him if he’s not getting consistent NBA playing time this season. It wouldn’t be the first time the Heat sent its second-round pick to the Sioux Falls Skyforce for further development. Josh Richardson, who was the Heat’s second-round pick in 2015, played four G League games with the Skyforce as a rookie. He also played in 52 regular-season games for the Heat that season.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.
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