September 29, 2020 | 8:03pm
Miami Heat rookie swingman Tyler Herro hailed new Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne as being key to his development at Kentucky and admitted a “motivation’’ after falling to No. 13 in the NBA draft.
Herro has been a godsend for the Heat in their unlikely run to the NBA Finals as the fifth seed — a 3-point-shooting machine who drives to the basket with abandon.
The Knicks hired Payne to their staff because of his work with prospects such as Herro and two other Finals participants, Miami big man Bam Abedayo and Lakers superstar Anthony Davis.
“It’s tremendous for [Payne] and his coaching career,’’ Herro said on Zoom on the eve of The Finals. “KP was like a father figure to me as far as just mentoring me when I was at Kentucky, and we still talk to this day, almost every day. He’s a great leader in his own way.
“He’s been around a lot of tremendous players, talented players who went to Kentucky who are obviously in the league now. He’s going to get on you hard. He’s a tough coach, and he’s going to coach you. He’s going to try to bring the best out of you. I’m really happy for him and happy that he got that job.’’
After making the NBA’s all-rookie second-team, Herro now looks like a future All-Star and relishes being relatively overlooked. He is averaging 13.5 points on 38.9 percent shooting from 3 in the playoffs.
“Being drafted 13 definitely motivates me, but I love where I was drafted, I love the opportunity I was drafted into,’’ Herro said. “But the 12 guys ahead of me are in the back of my head all the time. I know every last one of those guys ahead of me. It definitely does thrill me. But our team, we have a bunch of guys who were doubted and looked over. That’s the chip on the shoulder we have.”
One of those guys is Knicks guard RJ Barrett, the third pick out of Duke who didn’t make either of the all-rookie clubs.