Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro's breakout moment might have come in the NBA postseason bubble, but his best sustained play has come off the bench. He was honored for his reserve role by being named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year for the 2021-22 season, the league announced Tuesday.
"We're trying to win a championship here, so whether it's starting or coming off the bench for me, I accepted that role. ... I'm just happy to be on this team and happy to accept my role," Herro said last month after he was announced as a finalist for the award, along with Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cameron Johnson of the Phoenix Suns.
Herro received 96 out of a possible 100 first-place votes from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters, accumulating 488 total points (first-place votes are worth five points, second-place are worth three and third-place are worth one).
Love finished in second place with 214 points (three first-place votes), and Johnson was third with 128 points (one first-place vote).
Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz (27 points), Luke Kennard of the LA Clippers (12 points), Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Atlanta Hawks (10 points), Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Charlotte Hornets (9 points), De'Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies (4 points), Montrezl Harrell of the Hornets (3 points), Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks (2 points), Brandon Clarke of the Grizzlies (1 point), Tyus Jones of the Grizzlies (1 point) and Maxi Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks (1 point) rounded out the rest of the voting. Clarkson won the award with the Jazz last season, and Harrell won the award with the Clippers two seasons ago.
To be eligible for the award, a player had to come off the bench in more games than he started. Herro came off the bench in 56 of the 66 games he played, averaging 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists overall. When he was a substitute, his scoring average was slightly better (20.8), and the highest for any reserve in the league.
He is the first Heat player to win the award and just the fifth player to average at least 20 points off the bench (having played a minimum of 50 games) since starts began being tracked in the 1970-71 season, joining Thurl Bailey, Eddie Johnson, Ricky Pierce (twice) and Lou Williams (twice).
Herro scored 30 or more eight times off the bench, tied for third most in a season by a reserve since 1970-71.
The 2019 No. 13 pick out of Kentucky came onto the scene by scoring 37 points as a rookie against the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals in the bubble, setting Miami's single-game rookie scoring record.
He helped Miami to a 53-29 record and the No. 1 seed in the East this season. The Heat currently lead the Philadelphia 76ers 1-0 in the East semifinals.