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The Importance of the Herro-Robinson Offensive On-Court Combo
The Importance of the Herro-Robinson Offensive On-Court Combo
Apr 24, 2024 2:31 AM

Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson have had an interesting NBA journey together up to this point. Both drawing more and more eyes in Las Vegas Summer League before Herro’s rookie season, leading up to an eventual run to the NBA finals where both of them were pretty big reasons they ended up in that position.

It’s continually been Robinson running with the starters through some historical shooting seasons, and Herro being utilized as a bench spark when Robinson comes off the floor. But in a lot of ways, it’s going to be much more about their minutes together this season.

The new roster fits the idea of them playing alongside one another. The reason for that is there aren’t as many defensive holes as there once was. They aren’t staggering other poor defenders like Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic anymore, meaning there will be much more freedom.

There won’t be anymore stress about poor defensive lineups, since other than that Herro-Robinson one-two punch, the rest of the rotation will be pretty sound defensively. And now that they’re going to get plenty more reps, it’s time for more and more actions being run through them to maximize their offensive skill-set.

And well, it all starts with the extra on-ball reps for Herro this upcoming season…

When many were pondering the reasons that Miami would let Nunn walk like they did, the consensus was that they were clearing a pathway for Herro to take that next step. And while the most necessary statistic jump will be spot-up shooting, which I’ll address down the line, the ball will be in his hands very frequently.

We constantly talk about Robinson’s offensive gravity beyond the arc, which means Miami will have to pair that up with a hopefully more experienced pick and roll oriented Tyler Herro. The play above is one of the main ways to use them with those specific skill-sets: two guys in the weak-side corner, Herro-Adebayo PnR, and Robinson at the top of the key.

Now, it should be noted that the Heat will be simplifying Herro’s offensive role in many ways. An example of that is shown on this possession. He will essentially be told to watch Robinson’s defender, Kemba Walker, and react to what is given.

If Walker drops down in the slightest, it’s a win for them with a semi-contested Robinson three. If he doesn’t slide down, Herro can either pull up for a mid-range with his coveted baseline jumper, or lob it to Adebayo.

But the point is that it shouldn’t consistently be both Robinson and Herro off the ball. They have to be worked into the scheme together if this team wants to take a regular season offensive leap, and it feels like Erik Spoelstra and the coaching staff wouldn’t hesitate to run this type of stuff more often if they’re rolling.

Whenever I discuss certain players or offensive actions, I always bring up the term “layers.” Since well, the Miami Heat love adding layers, especially in the time slot seen in the clip above: the beginning of the third.

For starters, the beginning part of this play should be used more as well. Allow Robinson to slip some screens for Herro in an empty corner and see what comes from it. Most of the time both players won’t accidentally leave Robinson on that pop out, but it happens here.

In this clip, Adebayo is stationed in the perfect spot. He’s essentially the Herro safety net if he got trapped or the Celtics blew it up, but he makes himself even more useful. Once Boston goes into a rotational frenzy, Adebayo sets a screen for Robinson as Nunn cuts off the weak-side. Easy pass, easy lay-in, easy set to run for the Robinson-Herro combination.

Looking at this past season, it’s not like the two weren’t used out on the floor together a bunch. They were seventh on the team among two-man grouping minutes, but an interesting stat is connected to that. Obviously these type of offensive rating numbers could be a bit clouded, but among the team’s nine most used duos, Robinson and Herro were last in offensive rating.

And well, a lot of that had to do with role and usage, but that seems to be changing this year.

When talking about them sharing the floor together, it’s not like the other premier players won’t be out there as well. I have a weird feeling that Lowry-Herro-Robinson minutes could end up becoming a staple at times with the team’s previous lack of sitting Butler and Adebayo at the same time.

As much as on-ball actions with the two of them can create stuff, the same goes for off-ball movement. And a perfect game to evaluate this was when they faced Philadelphia early in the season with eight available players, and Herro/Robinson as the headliners.

This play above was most likely triggered following the defensive coverage seen out there in the first minute. With Tyrese Maxey playing that high on Gabe Vincent, it’s not hard to run back-screening for a good look in an open half-court.

Kelly Olynyk initially sets some off-ball screens for Herro and Robinson to flow into the weak-side. Olynyk then relocates himself off a pin-down, leading to an open look that obviously didn’t drop.

It’s not important who that popper would realistically be on this squad, but the point is that there’s ways for this team to generate wide open looks without Herro or Robinson even touching the ball. If Herro can blend into a Robinson-lite role in terms of overall movement to manipulate defenses, this stuff becomes even more deadly as the season continues.

And lastly, they just have to straight up hoop.

In a lot of ways, that’s what the two of them did in the bubble. They were shooting the ball at a very high level, not only with efficiency levels but also volume. They need to have the confidence to play off each other like they did in that Orlando environment.

Take a look at the clip above. A quick Robinson swing to a Herro pump-fake, side-step, and pass to a contested three-point make from Robinson. I just don’t remember seeing this stuff this past season.

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Like I alluded to earlier, a lot of this type of production rides on the spot-up shooting of Herro out the gate. When evaluating his numbers last season, everything pretty much increased in the slightest fashion, but the one thing that took a major hit was that catch and shoot three.

It wasn’t mechanical. It wasn’t confidence. I just believe it was a clustered role.

So, following a true off-season and a clear role pathway, a team goal throughout the year should be to bump up the usage on the two of them together. The more they can find ways to not fully rely on the team’s top veterans like Butler and Lowry, the better this team will be positioned heading into the post-season.

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