For the first time in six arduous years, the Orlando Magic fan-base will not be toiling over who their beloved team selects with their lottery pick in next month’s NBA Draft. The Magic figured things out late in the ‘18-’19 season, and broke-through en route to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in seven years. They even found a way to steal a game in Toronto, who has gone on to win the NBA Championship.
Since franchise center Dwight Howard was traded in the summer of 2012, the Magic have been a habitual “lottery team”. The organization drafted Victor Oladipo (‘13, 2nd), Aaron Gordon (‘14, 4th), Dario Saric (‘14, 12th - traded for the rights to Elfrid Payton), Mario Hezonja (‘15, 5th), Domantas Sabonis (‘16, 11th - traded along with Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova for the rights to Serge Ibaka), Jonathan Isaac (‘17, 6th), and Mohamed Bamba (‘18, 6th) with their seven lottery picks in the last six years. Of course, only Gordon, Isaac, and Bamba remain with the team.
Now the Magic find themselves on the outside of the lottery looking in, and that’s obviously a good thing. The organization has seemed to turn a corner; they have the right coach in place, they have a player who was recognized as an NBA All-Star for the first time since Howard, and they have some promising young players to continue to build-around for the foreseeable future.
Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross are set to become unrestricted free agents for their first time in their respective careers, so the NBA Free Agency period (beginning on June 30th) will clearly be Orlando’s primary focus this summer. But that’s not to say that this year’s draft should be completely ignored. The Magic are slated to pick 16th (and 46th, 2nd round), and a quality player should still be there available for the organization to select. Finding a hidden gem at #16 won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible.
NBA Hall-of-Fame point guard John Stockton was drafted 16th in 1984. Dana Barros (‘89), Chris Gatling (‘91), Metta World Peace (‘99), and Orlando’s own Nikola Vucevic (‘11) are all former 16th overall picks who have gone on to make an All-Star appearance in their careers. Hedo Turkoglu, Marreese Speights, Nick Young, Jusuf Nurkic, and Terry Rozier are all former 16th overall picks who have also carved out significant roles for themselves in the NBA at one point or another.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a scouting report profiling some of the players who will likely be available at #16 when the Magic make their pick. Included in these pieces will be some notes from player film review, talking points, and the player’s draft outlook.
We continue in this series by now taking look at a guard who was referred to in Lexington simply as a “bucket” - guard Tyler Herro.
“Probably won’t happen” comparisons: JJ Redick (very similar measurements, not the outside-shooter Redick is, better than the Duke All-American was in college inside the arc), Devin Booker (probably not the volume scorer Booker has become, similar offensive games)
“Possibly could happen” comparisons: Courtney Lee (probably less defensive upside), Joe Harris (more athletic)
Eye in the sky
— Great balance on his jumper, uses his legs/lower-half really well
— Makes a lot of tough shots
— Sneaky with his dribble, keeps his dribble low
— Makes shots off the dribble, especially going to his left
— Seems ready to shoot (always), a little flair for the dramatic - not afraid
— Fiery/emotional kid, plays with energy that shows on film
— Moves without the ball well, will have to get even better in this area to hit Redick-level archetype
— Defensive footwork seems to be a problem
— Lack of length will obviously be an issue in the NBA (at least at first)
Best films of the season:
at Louisville: 24 points (10-13 FGA’s, 4-6 3PTA’s), 5 rebounds
vs. Arkansas: 29 points (9-10 FGA’s, 5-6 3PTA’s), 4 rebounds
Video credit: Stadium
Video credit: Tremendous Upside
1) Negative Wingspan
I knew heading into the NBA Combine in Chicago last month that Herro wasn’t blessed with exceptional length, but his measurements came out even slightly worse than many likely expected. He’s a legitimate 6-6, which is a really good size for an NBA shooting guard. And while 190 pounds is a little light for a wing of his stature, he’s also only 19 years-old - he should have no problem putting on added strength/weight to his frame. Herro’s standing reach measured at 8-4, which is not elite, but it also certainly doesn’t make him some sort of statistical outlier or anomaly (for perspective - Langford’s reach: 8-7, Porter Jr.’s reach: 8-7, Alexander-Walker’s reach: 8-6).
The problem with Herro is his wingspan. I can’t recall the last time I’ve come across a prospect with a -3 wingspan (6-6, 6-3 wingspan). Modern NBA wing players tend to have wingspans’ that range from 6-7 to 6-10; in fact, his wingspan measurement is in the bottom five percentile of all shooting guards in the NBA Combine database since 2000. Because of this, I’ve heard chatter that Herro may be a “combo” guard at the next-level, but I don’t think that’s a possibility.
Look, I’ve never known a player’s wingspan to knock down an open shot. If Herro is Orlando’s guy, his wingspan shouldn’t deter the organization from drafting him. However, if you’ve been paying attention to the type of players this management group becomes infatuated with during the draft process, it’s not guys with negative wingspan measurements.
2) Redick Comparison
Okay, let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way. Because of the familiarity and fondness Magic fans have for former guard JJ Redick, it’s only natural that the Herro/Redick comparisons would commence (which I’ve already seen, they’re out there). To be honest, I don’t see a ton of similarities in the way that these guys play (Herro actually models his game after Devin Booker). They’re both very good shooters (obviously), Redick was more of an elite all-time shooter in college (and has been in the NBA as well). Herro is by all accounts more advanced at this stage than Redick was at creating off-the-dribble, as well as finishing in traffic (in the painted area). Both players were 90%-plus free-throw shooters in college, which is pretty damn impressive.
Where the two players are most similar is when you look at their pre-draft measurements. At the combine, Redick was measured at 6-4/190 lbs. with a 6-3 wingspan and an 8-2 standing reach. Herro is listed at 6-6/190 lbs. with a 6-3 wingspan and an 8-4 reach.
Redick has carved out an incredible NBA career for himself, so Herro’s length in itself (or lack thereof) doesn’t disclude him from ever having a successful stint in the NBA. But Redick also has incredible work ethic and it took him years to break into Orlando’s rotation (he was 24-25 years-old before he got consistent NBA minutes).
Here is a comparison of Redick and Herro after their freshmen seasons:
3) Shooting upside?
Herro has textbook form on his jump-shot. I really like the way he uses his lower-half. He always seems to be squared, balanced, and ready to shoot. His release point and follow through will need little (if any) adjustments at the next level.
The thing is, even though Herro is labeled as one of the premiere shooters in this draft, the results don’t seem to back that label up entirely. Sure, Herro had his moments as a freshmen at Kentucky (he made three of more three-point attempts in a single contest nine times this past season). But like most young players, he also went though his fair share of shooting inconsistency in 2018-2019.
In fact, even looking back at Herro’s numbers in high school, he’s never been a dead-eye knock-down outside shooter. In 2017, he shot 35.7% (35-98) in Nike EYBL league play (15 games) from downtown. His senior year of high school (20 games), Herro shot 40% from three-point distance (74-184). And in 2018, while playing for Kentucky, the Wisconsin blue-chip recruit shot 35.5% (60-169) from “3” in 37 games. Collectively, from ‘17-’19, Herro was a 37% three-point shooter (169-451). That’s a very respectable number, above-average even (considering Herro is only 19 years-old). But perhaps he’s not as efficient as advertised.
Herro is an all-time elite free-throw shooter; his 93.5% would have led the nation last year (did not qualify, not enough attempts). Considering his efficiency at the charity-stripe, it’s likely that Herro will indeed find success in the NBA spacing the floor as well.
The Milwaukee native currently sits 18th on ESPN’s board of “Best Available Players”. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic lists Herro 20th on his most updated “Big Board 7.0”, and Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated has the former Kentucky guard 15th on his latest board. The Ringer has Herro coming off the board at #18 to Indiana in their latest mock draft, and Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation pegged the sharpshooter to Oklahoma City at #21.
Like many of the prospects that are likely to be available when the Magic pick at 16, Herro will need some time to develop. He’s only 19 years-old, and he (probably as much as any other prospect in this class) will be physically over-matched to begin his career, going up against the best athletes in the world - especially on the defensive end.
Yet, he does play a position where the Magic could use some depth. Ross may or may not be back next season; Evan Fournier’s contract has two more years left on it (actually one more guaranteed season, with a player option in 2020-21 that he will likely opt-in to). Herro probably wouldn't be much of a help this coming season for the Magic, but his shooting and scoring ability could certainly help the team down the road.
Drafting Herro (-3 wingspan) would be a significant move away from the “long” players that President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and General Manager John Hammond have been known to favor. But he can shoot/score the basketball, and you can never have enough of those guys.
It’s true, Herro was lovingly referred to by Kentucky fans simply as a walking “bucket” last year. If “buckets” are what the Magic are looking for with the 16th pick, Tyler Herro just may be their guy.
This is the sixth in a series of NBA Draft previews coming over the next few weeks on Orlando Pinstriped Post. Aaron previously profiled Kevin Porter Jr., Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, and Brandon Clarke.
You can follow Aaron Goldstone on Twitter at @AaronGoldstone.