The Miami Heat’s victory against the Grizzlies was somewhat overshadowed by Tyler Herro limping off the court with a sprained ankle, leaving a star-player-shaped hole in the starting five for at least two weeks. Now, some guys need to step up.
Seeing Herro hop off immediately to get treatment was a huge concern for Heat fans, as the 23-year-old has enjoyed his best start to a regular NBA season. Before Wednesday's early exit, No. 14 has been averaging career highs of 25.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5 assists – complementing Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler in Miami's developing big three.
In terms of a like-for-like replacement, there is no easy fix here. With Herro out of the picture for some tough road trips, his impressive output will need to be shared across this Heat team.
1. Josh Richardson
J-Rich looked rough on the eye test against the Grizzlies and the numbers back it up. He posted just two points (1-9 FG, 0-5 3PT) in 17 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the shooting guard had a number of opportunities to go beyond his assist tally of two. Instead, he tried to shoot his way out of a cold streak with 3-pointers and, ultimately, it just didn’t materialize.
This was a game against the NBA's worst defense. Against stronger opposition, his inefficiencies could have cost the Heat a valuable win. With the Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Hornets coming up, Richardson is going to have to tighten up on the decision-making. Driving to the basket versus taking tricky shots downtown would be good to see, too. As part of the supporting cast for Bam and Jimmy, going beyond three or four assists per game is the leap fans want to see.
Putting aside recent offensive concerns, Richardson will need to play a bigger role defensively. He hasn't been much of a factor on the boards (something Herro thrives at) and he has managed just one steal in the regular season so far.
There is no obvious replacement for Herro’s scoring ability, but if J-Rich can be a more efficient playmaker and scorer, it will help.