Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): On Thursday night, Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro lines up for the first time against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.
Herro has long emulated Booker, saying earlier this week, "I think there's nothing that he does that I can't do. That's nothing against his game. I just think I'm capable of doing what he does if I continue to improve, obviously... That's all I watch is Devin."
So I'll put it to you... outside of the whole 'sweet shooting two guard with swagger from Kentucky,' is it fair to compare Herro to Booker?
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Is it a cop out to say it's too early to tell? There are certainly similarities in their game, but Herro strikes me as more of a shooter than Booker, who has developed into a rather effective playmaker.
But I will say this: Booker wasn't expected to be this player when he was selected in the 2015 NBA Draft. He was seen as a pure shooter, sort of like a Klay Thompson. So who is to say Herro won't develop in a similar way.
Adams: I get why the comp gets thrown around. Even if Herro himself wasn't saying it, that's the obvious one. Even down to comparing what Herro's been so far this season to what Booker looked like as a rookie Phoenix. That said... I'm not buying it.
Rafferty: The funny thing about Booker is that he has the reputation of being a knockdown shooter. He's off to a hot start this season, but he's a carer 35.8 percent 3-point shooter, which is around league average.
Going back to what I was saying before, I wouldn't be shocked if Herro is close to the 40.0 percent mark. Not this season necessarily, but when he's further along.
Adams: Herro's got every bit the opportunity to be the better shooter. But as far as playmaking is concerned, I don't think he's in the same ballpark as Booker.
And yes, I realize the stats say Herro's every bit the creator that Booker was as a rookie, but it's one area where the numbers don't tell the whole story.
When Booker came into the NBA out of Kentucky, nobody really had any idea what he could do with the ball in his hands. Everyone mentions him playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns in college, but there were a whopping seven other future NBA players as well, three of which were guards.
Contrast that to Herro's lone season at Kentucky when he was by far the team's most capable guard and yet still didn't show many signs of being a true top-flight creator.
He can be a nice piece for sure... but Booker? That's a tall order.
Rafferty: A big thing with Booker is that he's had an opportunity to play through mistakes to this point in his career. I doubt Herro gets the same opportunities with this Heat team looking to compete now.
Again, that doesn't mean he can't add things to his game in the same way Booker has. I'm just not sure I see him as the next Devin Booker.
Adams: The opportunity is a great point to make. So much of player development in the NBA falls outside of a player's control. In Phoenix, Booker had about as long of a leash as you could possibly expect and you're spot on in wondering if Herro gets that same chance. That's not even a knock on Herro as much as it is a reality of the situation in Miami.
Herro is playing alongside the likes of Jimmy Butler, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo for a team that might compete for a top-3 finish in the East.
Booker played as a rookie on a 23-win Suns team that swapped point guards midway through the year (Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe) and featured a rotating cast of similarly young players (Alex Len, TJ Warren and Archie Goodwin among others). That's umm... not the same.
Rafferty: Let's focus on this then - do you see any similarities between Booker and Herro as scorers? Forget team context and all the other parts of Booker's game for a second.
Adams: I do. So I'm about to contradict myself here a bit...
The shot profile for Herro as a rookie is eerily similar to that of Booker as a rookie.
Both are right around 11 field goal attempts a game. Both took the same amount of catch-and-shoots and pull-ups. Both hovered right around 35% from 3. It's so remarkably early to lean into percentages on specific shot types so I won't even go there. But just on shot selection and location alone, it's hard to see too much of a difference between the two.
Rafferty: I think this is what it comes down to: Herro and Booker have similarities as scorers, but it's hard to see Herro becoming the all-around offensive player that Booker is, especially given the situation he's in - i.e. he's on a Heat team that's looking to compete and can't afford to hand the keys to the offence to their rookie from the get-go.
Is that fair?
Adams: Completely. And look, there's no way the book has been written on what Herro is and isn't capable of becoming, that would be simply outlandish to say about any 19-year-old, let alone one with an incredible work ethic that rivals even Jimmy Butler's. But I do have significantly more doubts about Herro's ultimate ceiling than I did about Booker if only because
Booker arrived in the league as far more of an unknown quantity simply because of who he played with in college. We just didn't have much to go on, good or bad!
I wonder if Herro's ultimate destiny is more in line with the likes of JJ Redick. A knockdown shooter and ultimate competitor with an insatiable work ethic capable of inferno heat checks... but someone who probably shouldn't be cast as a number one option or franchise-altering shape shifter.
Rafferty: That would still make him one hell of a player.
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