Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s NBA readiness has garnered praise from the organization, but it also appears to have caught the attention of rival front offices.
In NBA.com’s annual General Manager survey, the 22-year-old forward was voted as one of the steals of June’s draft.
The Miami Heat need players ready to make an impact right away, and Jaime Jaquez Jr. has a chance to outperform his draft position as the 18th pick.
Jaquez, the 18th pick in the draft, tied with 10% of the vote with Utah’s Keyonte George and Portland’s Scoot Henderson. Geroge was selected with the 16th pick and Henderson was drafted third overall.
Receiving the most votes was Houston standout Cam Whitmore, the 20th pick in the draft who received 43% of the vote.
Behind Jaquez were Golden State’s Brandin Podziemski, Cleveland’s Emoni Bates, Minnesota’s Leonard Miller, Detroit’s Marcus Sasser, Utah’s Brice Sensabaugh, Detroit’s Ausar Thompson and Boston’s Jordan Walsh.
The early returns on Jaquez have been encouraging. He played well in a short stint in Summer League and was praised by coaches and teammates during the Heat’s training camp last week. In Miami’s preseason opener against the Hornets Monday, Jaquez made his preseason debut and tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 24 impressive minutes.
His highlights included a dump-off pass to Bam Adebayo for an easy dunk, a smooth mid-range jumper off a dribble-handoff and a low-post move to score on veteran forward Gordon Hayward.
At 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, Jaquez has an NBA-ready frame after four years at UCLA. He plays with patience and at his own pace and routinely makes the right basketball play. It’s easy to see how he might fit in with the Heat’s veteran team and earn a spot in the rotation right away. Jaquez could be competing with Haywood Highsmith, Caleb Martin and Josh Richardson for minutes.
The Heat and other GMs will get their next chance to see Jaquez Friday, when the Heat travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs in their second preseason game.