Heat’s Tyler Herro sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, but reflective on eve of 22nd birthday

·5 min read
Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

Tyler Herro will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Thursday and he’s still the youngest player on the Miami Heat’s roster.

Even Herro is surprised by that fact, as he has already experienced so much since being drafted into the NBA in 2019. He played in the NBA Finals as a rookie, had an up-and-down sophomore season that frustrated him at times and is the frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year Award this season.

“I knew at the beginning that I was still the youngest on the roster,” Herro said earlier this week. “But it’s crazy to be in Year 3 and still be the youngest.”

Herro was ruled out of Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at FTX Arena after entering the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Wednesday afternoon.

With the NBA and National Basketball Players Association shortening the quarantine period to five days for asymptomatic and vaccinated players to return to play if testing data shows they’re no longer at risk to be infectious, Herro will also likely miss at least the Heat’s next two games (Friday at Atlanta Hawks and Sunday vs. Los Angeles Lakers) with his five-day quarantine running through Monday.

Herro will turn 22 while in COVID-19 protocols, but also as the NBA’s leading bench scorer (20.8 points per game in 28 games as a reserve this season). He’s already one of the Heat’s most important offensive players, as he holds a team-high usage rate (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while on the court) of 28.4 percent this season, which is comparable to the current usage rate of stars like Chicago’s Zach LaVine (29.4 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (28.8 percent) and Brooklyn’s James Harden (27.4 percent).

That’s different than where Herro stood when he turned 21. He was in the middle of a seven-game absence a year ago because of neck spasms and then lost his spot in the starting lineup days later.

“Last year was a lot different for me,” Herro said. “In and out of the lineup with injuries and obviously everything that happened last year. It feels good this year. But just coming into this birthday, it’s just all about continuing to stick with it, stick with the process and just continuing to go by day by day.”

It has been a fulfilling year for Herro off the court, too. He became a father in September just weeks before the start of training camp, when his daughter Zya Elise Herro was born.

“Just everything that has happened so far has been a blessing,” Herro said. “My daughter, I’m going to turn 22 and obviously everything that’s going on with the team is amazing.

“It’s crazy to think when I first got here that I was 19. I’m still young, obviously, but I can’t even think of that. I was talking to my girl that I met her when I was 19 and I’m already 22. So it’s just crazy how time flies. You can get caught up in the noise and stuff like that, but every single day you don’t realize that you’re getting 1 percent better every single day and learning something new every single day. I’ve grown a lot in my three years here and I’m looking forward to the future.”

Heat captain Udonis Haslem has noticed Herro’s growth.

“You’re going to have ups and downs, it’s just how you recover from it,” Haslem said. “I think that shows the true maturation is how he has recovered. When he hasn’t had such a great game or when he missed a game because of his wrist, but he came back and played the next game and still played at a high level. Taking the challenge defensively. Those are the things that really show maturation from Tyler.”

Herro has “a lot of goals” for the 22nd year of his life. That list includes individual goals and an NBA championship.

“Hopefully I can continue to get better and we’ll see what happens at the end of 22,” he said with a grin.

ADEBAYO ON YURTSEVEN

Heat star center Bam Adebayo was on the bench for most of the Heat’s games while he was out for seven weeks after surgery on his right thumb, even traveling with the team during his recovery.

So Adebayo was able to watch rookie center Omer Yurtseven’s production up close. Yurtseven averaged 13.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in the 10 games prior to Adebayo’s return in Monday’s win over the Raptors.

“It was one of those things that you just enjoy somebody else’s success,” Adebayo said ahead of Wednesday’s game “I was proud of him just because a lot of dudes getting thrown in the fire, they don’t know how to handle their opportunity. He handled it very well. Whenever he gets the opportunity back, he always knows what he’s capable of.”

While he was sidelined, what was Adebayo’s message to Yurtseven: “One thing about him is he’s a phenomenal rebounder. I said, ‘You’re not going to get that many plays, so just go get it off the glass.’ He just kept listening to that. Next thing you know, he has 14-rebound game, 16, 13, 15. So he started getting in the flow of his niche that he has with this team.”

INJURY REPORT

Along with Herro, the ruled out Kyle Lowry (personal reasons), Markieff Morris (return to competition reconditioning), KZ Okpala (wrist sprain) and Victor Oladipo (knee injury recovery) for Wednesday’s game against the Trail Blazers. Center Chris Silva will be eligible to play as a COVID-19 replacement with Herro in protocols.

The Trail Blazers will be without Damian Lillard (core muscle recovery), Larry Nance Jr. (right knee inflammation) and Cody Zeller (right knee patellar fracture).

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