NBA

Tyler Herro and Chris Duarte emerging as early candidates for respective end-of-season awards

It's early days in the 2021-22 season, the NBA's 75th. Very early days, so almost any observation could be looked at as an overreaction.

Having said that, two young guards - who faced off on Saturday night (ET) as the Pacers hosted the Heat at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse - are already showing out.

With their performances early this season, Tyler Herro and Chris Duarte have already dropped their names in contention for their respective end-of-season awards.

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Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

Two games is a small sample size but the 6-foot-5 guard has absolutely been balling off the bench for the Miami Heat.

He is currently averaging 28.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 47.8 percent shooting from the field in 32.7 minutes as a reserve.

Tough to go on two games because his 27-point outing was against a Milwaukee Bucks that had rested much of their rotation players. Meanwhile, his 30-10 game in the 102-91 overtime loss against the Indiana Pacers came on 28 shot attempts and with a game-high plus-minus of -15.

He's certainly dropped his name in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation, which NBA.com's Kyle Irving predicted he would win before the season tipped-off, Herro will need to keep putting him these numbers consistently to ensure the number of asterisks alongside his performances reduce and eventually disappear.

Having said that, these two regular-season performances are coming off a strong preseason for Herro. His 22.4 points average was fifth-best in the 2021 preseason.

Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers

Three games, three starts and the Pacers rookie is averaging 20.3 points on 40.4 percent shooting from the field.

It's early but he leads all rookie points per game and ranks third in efficiency.

The 27 points are the most by a Pacers rookie on debut. Yes, he's far more mature given his age (24 years old) but there's no age limit on the Rookie of the Year award.

Although the Pacers are 1-2 after three games, their combined margin of defeats has been two points and Duarte has been impressive in each game. During his 39.7 minutes on the court, he's recorded an average plus-minus of +8.7.

The No. 13 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft is the most ready-made product in the lottery and his start to the season has proved just that.

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