The Miami Heat have done it again.
Their front office has earned a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough over the past few decades and they drafted yet another one in Jaime Jaquez Jr. during this past June’s NBA Draft.
Miami picked Jaquez 18th overall and he has established himself as a key piece of their rotation within the first month of his rookie campaign. He stepped into a bigger role after Tyler Herro suffered an ankle injury last November 9 and has not looked back since then.
Jaquez has now scored at least 10 points in 11 of the Heat’s 12 games after failing to reach this mark in the first seven contests of this campaign. His per-game averages of 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals may seem quite pedestrian, but his shooting efficiency is what hints at his potential to eventually become a special player for Miami.
Through the first 18 games of the season, Jaquez was putting up 52/39/82 (Field goal, three-pointer, free throw) shooting splits and it will be interesting to see if he can keep this up throughout an entire season.
The 22-year-old product of UCLA put up his finest performance to date in Miami’s latest win, a high-scoring 142-132 victory against the Indiana Pacers, where he scored 24 points on eight-of-13 field goals and also recorded five rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
The 6’6 forward uses his size and strength to get to his spots on offense and his game actually has an uncanny resemblance with that of the Heat’s current leader, six-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler. Like Butler, Jaquez plays with a controlled pace, is adept at backing down opponents, and can comfortably serve as a team’s secondary playmaker.
It would not come as a surprise if Miami begins to gradually hand over the reins of this team to Jaquez, with the caveat that he continues to perform on this level at the very least, as soon as next year as the 34-year-old Butler slowly ages out of his prime. The combination of Jaquez, Herro, and Bam Adebayo should be more than enough to carry the Heat for the rest of this decade and keep them among the top tier of Eastern Conference contenders.
“Heat Culture” is in good hands with Jaquez poised to become its next standard bearer and all of South Beach will be eagerly anticipating if he can develop into the piece that finally gets them their first NBA title since 2013.