Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson often are at the forefront of the Rookie of the Year conversation, but another talented member of the 2019 NBA draft class isn’t just sitting back and waiting for the season to resume.
Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro, 20, is training and working out inside his new house amid the lockdown, and he is remaining hopeful that he can officially close the opening chapter of his NBA journey, which was put on pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would say it went pretty well,” Herro told ESPN of his first season. “I ended up getting hurt toward the middle of the year. I missed like 15 games, but before that, I felt like I was starting to find my stride, starting to prove myself, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting back.
“I definitely feel like if it wasn’t for that injury, I feel like I would be 1 or 2 in the Rookie of the Year race, so I’m ready to get out there and prove myself again.”
Prior to the NBA suspending its season following Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus, Herro returned from a 15-game absence due to right ankle soreness for Miami’s 109-98 loss to Charlotte on March 11.
For the season, Herro ranks eighth among rookies in scoring (12.9 points), seventh in 20-point games (9) and tied for first with 2.1 3-pointers per game.
His seven made 3-pointers on Jan. 22 against the Washington Wizards were the most in a game by a Heat rookie in franchise history and tied for the most by any rookie this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. However, Herro is still not satisfied.
“I just hope that they open as soon as possible,” Herro said of practice facilities possibly reopening soon. “Obviously, hoping everybody stays safe … but we would all love to get back into the facilities and start working out and stuff like that again on a normal routine.”
If the season resumes, Miami (41-24) sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Heat won the season series 2-0 against the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the first team to beat Milwaukee twice this season.
Those wins gave Herro, a Milwaukee native, confidence in his team’s ability.
“It was just a blessing, really, to be able to play against my hometown in Milwaukee and then in Miami, so with the success we had on them, we definitely felt like we could make a run at it in the playoffs,” Herro said. “Obviously, Milwaukee is the No. 1 team in the East, so we definitely feel like we can make a run if the season gets back, so we’re definitely looking forward to it.”