On Tuesday night, the NBA announced the winner of the 6th Man of the Year Award.
Honors went to Heat guard Tyler Herro.
Runners-up honors went to the Cavs’ Kevin Love.
And the latter was quick to hop on social media and congratulate his South Beach rival:
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) May 3, 2022
Herro received 96 first-team votes (488 total).
Love, for his part, earned three first-team votes (214 total).
It’s tough seeing another Cavalier have such a strong season and fall just short of recognition.
Herro was a human flamethrower this season.
Coming off the bench, he averaged 20.7 points, five rebounds, and four assists this season.
Most starters, when they see the opposing team go to the bench, know they can take a breather, having survived the starting unit.
The Kentucky product makes that impossible.
As his point totals might suggest, he’s a lethal shooter.
He makes just under 45% of the shots he puts up (44.7).
Outside the arc, he makes just under 40% of triples (39.9).
Herro also makes opposing teams game plan around him, unique for a bench player.
Tyler Herro is the first player to win the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award with the Miami Heat.
More ➡️ https://t.co/d8ElEthWGu
Voting results ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Orkvo29AYR
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 3, 2022
Love, to his credit, had a much better season in 2021-22.
The forward turned in a .430 rate from the field and .392 from three.
His numbers aren’t quite at Herro’s level, but for a 14-year vet, they aren’t bad.
Especially considering Herro, in his third season, is at the peak of his own athletic abilities.
A year ago, Love was struggling through an awful campaign.
He seemed disinterested at best, toxic at worst, for a young Cavaliers team struggling to find an identity.
Since LeBron left in 2018, the Cavs had waded through basketball purgatory, and Love appeared disgruntled in his role as has-been mentor.
But one year later and Love has turned it all around.
No, he doesn’t put up the same All-NBA stats that got him a ticket to the LeBron-Kyrie Irving Cavaliers in the first place.
But he showed, at minimum, that he could be a productive and encouraging player.
In fact, he might even be…enjoying himself?
“I’m having a lot of fun. Really, it’s been a lot of fun watching this team grow. It’s so fun I’m losing track of games, I don’t even know what game we’re at now. I think sacrifice gives back more than the cost. … It’s joyous.
It’s really incredible to see Love embracing his role; he’s not a has-been, he’s a veteran with serious playoff experience.
Not only that, he’s had successful playoff experience.
That’s something the Cavaliers have been missing ever since James skipped town a few years ago.
Of course, it helps that the Cavs now get to trot out Evan Mobley, a winning player with a ceiling that stretches to the moon.
It’s hard to know whether Love would be singing that tune if the team was still well-below .500 with no end in sight.
Thankfully, it doesn’t matter.